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Autumn 2011 - Viridian Housing

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AUTUMN 2011

Teaming up

with the Duke of

Edinburgh’s Award

5 7 14 24

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR

Viridian Housing

Colwell House

376 Clapham Road

LONDON SW9 9AR

Send post to us for free

Taking a stand against

illegal subletting

Viridian green fingers

Spinach and feta muffins


AUTUMN 2011

Publisher

Viridian Housing

Colwell House,

376 Clapham Road,

London SW9 9AR,

Ph: 0330 123 0220

Fax: 020 3202 3601

Email: csclondon@

viridianhousing.org.uk

Copyright

All material published in Link is

copyrighted and may only be

reproduced with the permission

of the Editor.

Enquiries

Email: communications@

viridianhousing.org.uk

Images

Names of individual artists

are available on request by

contacting the Editor.

Cover image

Young residents Adam Gravely,

Kwabena Efah, Jodie Gerald

and Sigourney Gerald who are

participating in the Duke of

Edinburgh’s Award with the help

of Viridian Housing.

Viridian Housing is the not-forprofit

organisation that provides

social housing to over 30,000

residents spanning across

London and the south east, the

Midlands and West Sussex.

We have around 16,000 homes

across the country and work

in partnership with residents

to create safe, sustainable

communities. We aim to support

our residents and help them to

make the most of opportunities

in their lives.

As a leading social landlord, we

provide rented family housing,

shared ownership homes, care

and supported homes for older

and vulnerable people, assisted

living, hostel accommodation,

student and key worker

accommodation.

We work closely with a variety

of partners, including local

authorities, the Tenant Services

Authority, the Homes and

Communities Agency, NHS

trusts, universities and colleges.

We have offices in London

(Hammersmith and Clapham),

Birmingham, Northampton and

West Sussex.

Inside this issue…

5 Send post to us for free

We have now launched our new freepost address. So just write down

our freepost address and license number on any envelope or postcard

and it will get to us free-of-charge.

7 Taking a stand against illegal subletting

We have recently appointed a specialist Tenancy Fraud Investigator,

Michael Atkins, to help us achieve even greater success in detecting

residents who illegally sublet their homes for profits or who were not

honest about their circumstances when given their home.

14 Viridian green fingers

Last month residents at our retirement homes took part in our

gardening competition and after much deliberation our judges have

announced their winners. Link went along and spoke to some of the

residents from the three regional winners.

3 After the riots

4 How we look after your personal information

5 Send post to us for free

5 Christmas drawing competition

6 Owning a home may be cheaper than you thought

7 Taking a stand against illegal subletting

8 Security alert update

9 National Customer Services Week 3-7 October

9 Your views on our new repairs and planned maintenance strategy

10 Teaming up with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

12 Viridian internships: Providing opportunities to our residents

12 Making a difference project coming soon

13 Showtime for care home choir in Birmingham

13 Living it

14 Viridian green fingers

15 Making a difference in housing

15 Saving over £100k a year on new security services

17 Winter is on its way

19 Viridian working for you

24 Spinach and feta muffins

25 All I want for Christmas

26 How are we doing?

Welcome!

Welcome to the winter edition of Link, our quarterly

magazine for all our residents.

We want you to make Link the best it can be so if you would like to

get involved by working with our editorial group please get in touch.

Please call the editor on 020 8307 3308 or email

linkmagazine@viridianhousing.org.uk.

Further information is available at www.viridianhousing.org.uk/

about_us/our-publications/Link.

2 Link


NEWS

After the riots

In August we witnessed scenes of disorder and criminality take

place right across the country.

Now that some calm has returned to our streets

we are thinking about our longer term response

to the riots.

Although we are incredibly thankful that none

of our residents’ homes were severely damaged

we are aware that residents’ lives may have

been impacted in other ways.

It is now even clearer that we cannot just be a

landlord focusing on rent collection and repairing

our properties, we need to work to help achieve

real progress in our residents’ lives.

More immediately, we need to decide how to

treat those residents who were involved in the

riots. Following a great deal of consideration we

have decided that:

• If the resident was personally involved (rather

than their children), we are likely to push for

eviction.

• If the resident was not personally involved

but their children were and there had been

a history of anti-social behaviour (ASB), then

again we would take a very strong line.

• If the resident was not personally involved

but their children were and there is no history

of ASB, we will talk to the family about the

support they require but we will not push for

eviction.

• We are one of the very few social landlords

who have a clause in our tenancy agreements

banning gang membership. If, as a result of

investigations into involvement with the riots, a

resident or their child is found to be a member

of a gang or is allowing a gang member to

visit their home, then we would look to take

legal action against the resident.

However, every case is different and we will look

at the specific facts of each case before we

apply the above general guidelines.

We encourage the community to support its

young people to be responsible citizens.

We are working closely with all of our residents to

ensure their safety and security at all times.

For more information please contact our

customer service centre via email on

csclondon@viridianhousing.org.uk

or call 0330 123 0220.

autumn 2011

3


NEWS

How we look after

your personal information

We have a legal obligation to keep the information we hold on

residents safe and secure.

We follow the Data Protection Act to guide us

on how we should deal with any requests that

involve your personal information. This includes

information about your residency, personal

contact information and rent account. The below

information explains the guidelines we follow.

• We will only disclose certain information to

the person whose name is on the tenancy

agreement or a person authorised to access

information on their behalf.

• If you call our customer service centre and

need to discuss your account we will ask you

two security questions so we can confirm that

we are speaking to the correct person.

Our security questions are:

• What is your tenancy reference number?

To make it easier when you call the customer

service centre you can set up a password,

which means you will not need to answer the

security questions.

You can change your password at any time. If

you forget your password we will ask you the

standard security questions to check that you

are the account holder and will then reset your

password.

If you would like someone to call us on your

behalf please write to us with their details.

For more information or to set up a password

please contact our customer service centre via

email on csclondon@viridianhousing.org.uk or

call 0330 123 0220.

• What is the start date of your tenancy?

• What is your date of birth?

• How did you last pay your rent?

4 Link


NEWS

Send post to us for free

We have now launched our

new freepost address.

So just write down our freepost address and license

number on any envelope or postcard and

it will get to us free-of-charge.

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR

Viridian Housing

Colwell House

376 Clapham Road

LONDON SW9 9AR

No matter where

you are in the

country you can

use this freepost

address and

your letter will

get to where it’s

suppossed to go!

Christmas drawing competition

To celebrate the launch of our new freepost

address we are running a Christmas card

drawing competition and you can send us

your entries free-of-charge.

If you are between 1-16 years of age, design us a

Christmas card and send it in. You can paint, draw,

sketch or create it however you want.

There will be prizes for each age group (1-4 years, 5-9 years,

10-13 years and 14-16 years) and the winners will have their

designs printed in the next edition of Link. We will also print

each winning design on canvas to display in your home.

Don’t forget to let us know your name, address, contact

number and age.

Entries close on 1 December 2011 and we will announce the

winners on 6 December 2011.

To see the terms and conditions of the competition please visit our website

www.viridianhousing.org.uk. Please accept the conditions before you enter.

autumn 2011

5


NEWS

Owning a home may be

cheaper than you think

Many Londoners who thought they would

never become home owners are now

achieving their dream with a new initiative

called First Steps Shared Ownership.

First Steps works closely with us to give first time

buyers the opportunity to access affordable

housing.

The initiative allows residents to buy a share of

a housing association property and to pay rent

on the part of the home that is owned by the

association. Over time you can buy extra shares

until you own the property outright.

A number of First Steps shared ownership

properties are in development all over London.

Centre, 34 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BU.

You will be able to meet advisers who can help

you decide whether the schemes promoted

under First Steps are right for you.

For further information and to apply online visit

www.firststepslondon.org or call 0845 230 8099.

If you live outside London and would like to

know who the HomeBuy Agent is in your area

please visit www.homebuy.co.uk.

You can also come along to a First Steps event

at 6.30pm on 18 October 2011 at The Abbey

New shared ownership

homes available

Haringey

A new development due to be completed in

June 2012 is under construction in Haringey.

Over 20 contemporary apartments with one,

two and three bedrooms will be available

to buy on a shared ownership basis. Each

new apartment comes with a fitted kitchen,

white goods and carpets. The development

is situated close to a number of shops, bars,

cafes and

restaurants

and there are

also excellent

transport links

available with

overground

rail and buses

offering regular

services into

central London.

Croydon

Another one of our developments due to

be completed in March 2012 is currently

under construction in Handcroft Road.

There are seven apartments with one and

two bedrooms which will be available to

purchase on a shared ownership basis. Each

new apartment comes with a fitted kitchen,

white goods and carpets. This development

is located in the heart of Croydon and within

a five minute walk to West Croydon rail, over

ground and tram stations.

To register your interest for either development

please email dlsales@viridianhousing.org.uk

or call 020 8307 7966.

6 Link


NEWS

Taking a stand against illegal subletting

We have recently appointed a specialist tenancy fraud investigator to help us achieve

even greater success in detecting residents who illegally sublet their homes for profits or

who were not honest about their circumstances when given their home.

The fraud investigator will increase the number

of illegal subletters caught and brought to

justice, meaning more properties will be

available for people who really need and

deserve them. Also, we are the first social

landlord to set a policy to issue civil claims

against anyone who sublets to pay back the

profits they have made.

Solicitor and Head of Legal Services, Katrina

Robinson, said we currently have over 100

properties that we suspect are being unlawfully

sublet.

“Our homes are for those with a social need and

we will simply not tolerate subletting. The Fraud

Investigator will ensure the fraudsters are caught,

sued in the civil courts and prosecuted for fraud

in the criminal courts,” Katrina Robinson said.

Last year we took back 35 properties that were

being illegally sublet and have been paid

£26,000 in compensation. One resident was

found guilty of fraud and other cases of related

benefit fraud are awaiting prosecution.

We have the full support from the Head of

Counter Fraud at the Audit Commission, Alan

Bryce.

“Housing tenancy fraud is the largest single area

of fraud loss in local government, affecting us

all as taxpayers and users of public services in

London. It is also a significant barrier to those

on the waiting list in need of a home. We all

have a part to play in tackling fraud and it is

encouraging to see housing associations such

as Viridian making such a contribution,”

said Alan Bryce

If you suspect someone is subletting you

can email us in complete confidence at

subletting@viridianhousing.org.uk.

autumn 2011

7


NEWS

Security alert update

Some of our residents have been contacted and asked about a

repair that was carried out at their home.

These calls are not from a Viridian employee

and should be treated as a hoax.

The calls are typically made in the evening or

weekends and ask about arranging a time to

visit the house and completing a survey.

To help ensure your security we recommend

you follow a few simple steps when discussing

personal information over the phone.

• Write down the callers name and contact

number. If you are unsure about them phone

our customer service centre and check the

person does work for us.

• If you have any doubt about the caller, say

that you do not wish to speak to them at

present and then discuss it with your scheme

manager or call our customer service centre.

• Don’t let anyone into your home unless you

know who they are and have seen their

identification card. Viridian employees should

always have their identification card with

them which will include a photograph of

them. If they do not have this with them do

not let them in.

• If you are unsure that they are Viridian

employees ask them to wait outside and call

our customer service centre. We have access

to our employees’ calendars and can see

who they have planned to visit.

• If you feel in any danger call the police. It is

okay to call 999.

• Even if the caller goes away when challenged

please still report this to the police and to us as

we may be able to provide security advice to

other residents.

• If you have concerns about the safety of your

home please contact us. We may be able to

help you with security improvements.

If you have been contacted or have

experienced a similar incident, please contact

our customer service centre via email on

csclondon@viridianhousing.org.uk or call

0330 123 0220.

8 Link


NEWS

National Customer

Services Week

3–7 October

This year we once again took part in National Customer

Services Week (NCSW) to help us celebrate what

excellent customer services means to us.

We had lots of fun activities and events happening across our

offices. In the next edition of Link there will be photos from the week

and information about what we got up to so keep a look out.

Your views on our new repairs and

planned maintenance strategy

We are currently working on the

development of a new repairs and

planned maintenance strategy for the

next five years.

The strategy will plan our active priorities for

improving and managing day-to-day maintenance

such as fixing a leaky tap, planned maintenance

such as replacing bathrooms or windows and

shared service equipment such as lifts.

We want to ensure that future maintenance and

investment in our properties is up to standard

and cost effective. Therefore, both the National

Residents Forum and the Asset Management

Residents Advisory Group will be involved in

shaping the final strategy.

But we also want to hear your views so the

draft strategy is available on our website for

your feedback. A workshop will also be held in

November.

If you are interested in attending the workshop

please call Wendy Miller on 0121 441 6055 or

email wendy.miller@viridianhousing.org.uk.

If you have any questions on the development

of this strategy please call Tony Clark, Director

of Asset Strategy and Planning on 0121 441 6013

or email tony.clark@viridianhousing.org.uk.

autumn 2011

9


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Teaming up with The Duke

of Edinburgh’s Award

At a time when young people face increasing social and economic challenges,

we are proud to be working with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a charity which

enables young people to improve their prospects for the future.

Some of our young residents

Jodie Gerald, Adam

Gravely, Sigourney Gerald

and Kwabena Efah are

participating in The Duke of

Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award, the

leading youth development

programme for young people

in London.

As part of the DofE award

young people commit to a

personal programme over

18 months for a Gold Award

which they do in their own

time. It encourages them

to be active, push personal

boundaries and develop

healthy habits. It also gives

young people self-confidence

and develops their social

conscience.

Working alongside The

DofE, we have developed

a programme that includes

volunteering, work placements

and work experience.

Jodie and Adam recently

completed the residential

section of the DofE which took

place in Malta and Sigourney

and Kwabena will go on the

leadership course next year. They

have also all been allocated a

volunteering placement, utlilising

youth work skills.

To complete their Gold Award,

they will also need to

complete three other sections,

including physical activities,

skill development and an

expedition.

Jodie Gerald said she had

no idea that you could do

and learn so much on the

programme.

“It really is an eye opener,”

she said.

The DofE is recognised

nationally as the most valuable

non-formal programme for

young people with a high

impact on employability.

Employers recognise that it

develops resilience, teamwork,

problem-solving and

leadership skills.

One of our Resident

Involvement and Community

Engagement officers, DB

Crawford, said it is those facing

10 Link


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

From left: Adam

Gravely, Jodie

Gerald, Sigourney

Gerald and

Kwabena Efah.

the biggest challenges for

who the DofE has the greatest

impact.

“By investing in the young

people of today, we are

investing in the community

leaders of tomorrow —

this fosters community

cohesion at the most

fundamental level,”

DB Crawford said.

Adam Gravely said he is

grateful that Viridian decided

to sponsor him for the DofE as

it has really changed his life.

Peter Fleet, The DofE’s Director

for London said the DofE is

trying to reach out and help

as many young people as

possible.

“It’s a tough time to be a

young person in the UK

right now and that’s where

The DofE comes in. We

want to double the number

of participants from all

backgrounds doing their

DofE and we will achieve

that aspiration by working

with a wide range of

partners, like Viridian, giving

young people outside of

education the chance to

achieve a DofE Award,”

said Peter Fleet

We are one of just three social

housing providers supporting

young people in this innovative

new partnership with The DofE,

giving them the opportunity

to discover their talents and

increase their life chances.

If you would like to become involved with the DofE

programme please call DB Crawford on 0330 123 0220

or email db.crawford@viridianhousing.org.uk.

autumn 2011

11


The project will run between 22 October and 6 November 2011.

RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Viridian internships:

Providing opportunities

to our residents

Our new internship programme recently started in Northampton

and London.

Sigourney, a second year student at Leicester

University studying law has fulfilled her dream

to work in London with the help of our human

resources, resident involvement and community

engagement (RICE) and commercial services

teams.

Sigourney said, “I’m so excited, this is a fantastic

opportunity for me and it will really boost my

confidence”.

Adam, a first year business and politics

student at Leicester University was offered an

administration role at the Northampton office.

“I’m really interested in how Viridian operates

plus I’ll be studying business at university so this is

a great opportunity for me. The employees here

are fantastic and very supportive,” Adam said.

Kwabena is based in the finance department at

Hammersmith and will start university next year.

“I didn’t even give it a second thought and just

jumped at the opportunity. This is going to look

great on my CV,” he said.

For more information about internships

and how to get involved, please call

DB Crawford on 0330 123 0220 or email

db.crawford@viridianhousing.org.uk.

Making a Difference

project coming soon

In October, we will begin our Making a Difference project which aims

to help residents who need support in their day-to-day lives.

Our employees will be working alongside young people involved in the Duke of

Edinburgh’s Award to help elderly or immobile residents with activities such as

decorating or gardening.

Further information will be available soon.

12 Link


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Showtime for care home

choir in Birmingham

An all-singing, all-dancing group of

Birmingham pensioners have enjoyed

their moment in the spotlight.

Members of the Good Companions choir

from Perry Barr donned top hats and canes to

entertain audiences in the foyer of Birmingham

Hippodrome for their matinee performance of

the musical Top Hat.

The 12-strong choir performed a medley of hits

from the musical including Cheek-to-Cheek.

The choir, which is led by musician Rob

Harper, started two years ago with the help

of Hippodrome, and the Perry Barr branch of

Age UK also helped to recruit new members.

The choir has previously performed at

Birmingham Town Hall and gives concerts at

other care homes in the city.

“It’s very uplifting and I get a kick out of

performing, we are very excited,” choir

member Brian Russell said.

Choir’s claim to fame: The Good Companions were

featured in the Birmingham Mail.

Living it

Our employees have undergone ‘Live It’, a customer service programme, which is

focused on helping our employees to be more customer focused and provide the best

possible service to our residents.

Live It is an employee recognition awards

scheme and it is now open for residents to

nominate employees.

Every month our employees have the

opportunity to nominate a team or an individual

for a Live It award in recognition of something

they’ve done which has had a positive impact

on either their colleagues or our residents.

We want to recognise our employees who really

take pride in their work and go out of their way

to help others. A panel made up of employees

and residents meet monthly to review the

nominations and choose who gets a Live It award.

If you have received a service from us and

would like to recommend an employee or a

team for a Live It award, you can now leave

your comments at one at our reception desks

or complete a form on our website at

www.viridianhousing.org.uk/liveit.

For more information about Live It award

nominations, please contact our customer

service centre on 0330 123 0220 or email

live.it@viridianhousing.org.uk.

autumn 2011

13


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Viridian green fingers

Last month residents at our retirement homes took part in our gardening competition

and after much deliberation our judges have announced their winners. Link went

along and spoke to some of the residents from the three regional winners.

Our experts were looking for colourful blooms,

healthy vegetable patches and lots of

community involvement.

First prize went to Catherine Court in the

Midlands, Lovatt Court in London and Servite

House Bognor in South London.

Kerry Blakemore, Scheme Manager at Servite

House Bognor told Link, “The residents have

worked so hard at this and have put in a lot

of time and energy to make the gardens look

so nice”.

Mr and Mrs Gannoway in their garden at Catherine Court.

At Lovatt Court in South London, residents

reacted with pride to the news.

“I’m very pleased to be part of the winning

team,” Anne Wilson said.

Sid Stone said the produce of his small

vegetable garden will go the other residents.

“We do gardening for pleasure and

because we enjoy it,” said resident

Barbara Ash.

At Catherine Court the residents are

very happy with the news and are

looking forward to starting up the

vegetable plots and raised beds

for all Catherine Court residents to

enjoy and get involved with.

The following teams also got a

special mention from the judges.

Millicent Butler House, John Nash

Square, Servite House Old Oscott

Hill, Servite Court Highters Heath,

Barbara Glasgow House and

Edith Pope House.

14 Link


OUR SERVICES

Making a difference in housing

Last year we transferred

69 percent more residents

compared to 2009.

To create opportunities we offer

financial incentives to residents

transferring from homes

they are under-occupying.

Transferring to more suitable

accommodation can benefit

residents in many ways.

Often this situation occurs

when adult children have left

the family home. By releasing

larger family homes we can

then look to see if anyone else

on our transfer list could move

to a larger property. Other

reasons include if you:

• would like a smaller property

to live in

• have a big property and

are having trouble paying

your bills

• would you like to be nearer

to your family who live in

another area or move closer

to work

• have had more children

and there aren’t enough

bedrooms

• live in a property adapted

for a disability but you

now have no need for the

adaptations

• suffer from a long term

medical problem which

means your current property

is no longer suitable

• are suffering from domestic

violence or serious harassment

which puts life at risk

• want to move to supported

housing or retirement housing.

If you are considering a transfer

email the customer service

team via email on csclondon@

viridianhousing.org.uk.

We will then provide advice on

the housing options you can

consider and visit your home to

discuss your options.

To see our new

lettings policy visit

www.viridianhousing.

org.uk/lettings.

Ms Hunter and her new television.

Waiting list

review

We would like to thank

everyone who took part in our

housing waiting list review.

As part of the review we asked

applicants to complete a

questionnaire which fed into

the review of our lettings policy

and also provides valuable

feedback on how we can

improve our service.

Thank you to all residents who

returned their completed

forms and provided feedback.

Congratulations to Ms Hunter

who won our prize draw.

Saving over £100k a year

on new security services

We have saved over £100k per year on a new security services contract for Middlesex

University.

The contract was tendered at three stages focusing on quality and price.

The successful company was Securitas Security Personnel and the new service will cost us £115k

less than last year. This is a saving of £345k over three years.

If you would like to give us any feedback please email morak.bayode@viridianhousing.org.uk.

autumn 2011

15


OUR SERVICES

OUT

Come OUT with us every

second Friday in Worthing.

OUT is a youth service for young gay, lesbian

and bi-sexual people living in West Sussex.

OUT provides practical help, support and information to the local community in a

comfortable environment.

We offer help and support in a wide range of areas including sexual health, mental health,

housing, employment, education, benefits, law and coming-out.

Come and join OUT every second Friday at 5.30pm at Green Cuisine, 37 Rowlands Road, Worthing.

October 2011

Friday 7

5.30pm-7.30pm

Friday 21

5.30pm-7.30pm


November 2011

Friday 4

5.30pm-7.30pm

Friday 18

5.30pm-7.30pm


December 2011

Friday 2

5.30pm-7.30pm

Friday 16

5.30pm-7.30pm

Friday 30

5.30pm-7.30pm

For more information email rosie.vizor@viridianhousing.org.uk.

16 Link


GETTING READY FOR WINTER

Winter is on its way

As the price of energy continues to rise we

want to help you keep your bills low.

Here is a guide to reducing your energy bills.

• Don’t leave televisions and monitors on

standby and save up to £40 a year.

• Buy smaller LCD television screens rather

than large plasma screens and save up to

£25 a year.

• Put silver foil behind your radiators to reflect

heat back into the room and save up to

£20 a year.

• Turn your thermostat down by one degree

and save up to £60 a year.

• Have a shower instead of a bath and save

up to £40 a year.

• Buy energy efficient appliances and save

up to £30 a year.

• Wash your clothes at 30 degrees and save

up to £10 a year. Dry your clothes outside

instead of in a tumble dryer and save up to

£25 a year.

• Use energy efficient bulbs and save up to

£40 a year.

• Switch off lights when you leave a room

and save up to £10 a year.

• Only use the water you need when making

a brew and save up to £10 a year.

Getting the best deal on energy

For free advice and information for people classed as fuel poor, contact the

numbers below.

Age Concern

0800 00 99 66

British Gas

0845 850 2207

Home Heat helpline

0800 33 66 99

EDF Energy

0800 269 450

Energy Saving Trust

0800 512 012

E.ON – Staywarm

www.eonenergy.com

Npower

0800 9751373

Scottish Power

0845 2700 700

Southern Electric (part of

Scottish & Southern Energy)

0800 622 838

If you are struggling to pay

your bills please don’t ignore it.

Contact the numbers below.

Consumer Credit Counselling

Service

0800 138 1111

National Debtline

0808 808 4000

autumn 2011

17


GETTING READY FOR WINTER

My home energy switch

My Home Energy Switch is a joint partnership between the National

Housing Federation and uSwitch to provide a dedicated webpage and

phone line for housing association employees and residents to quickly

check the cheapest gas and electricity prices available to them.

Between 1 July and 31 December 2010 at least 10 percent of people who

switched energy supplier with uSwitch.com saved £458 or more.

There is no obligation to change energy supplier by

using the service, and there is a 14 day cooling off

period where you can cancel the switch to a new

energy provider if you change your mind. It takes four

to six weeks to complete the change over to a new

energy provider.

For further information look out in the letting packs or visit

www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/nhf-landing-page/.

Cold weather payments

If you receive income support, income-based jobseekers

allowance, or income-related employment and support

allowance you might be eligible for cold weather payments.

Advise Job Centre Plus if:

• you have had a baby, or

• a child under five has come to live with you.

If you don’t, you won’t automatically receive any cold weather payments.

In addition, if you are beyond retirement age you can receive winter fuel

payments as well; this is a different payment to cold weather payments.

For further information visit www.direct.gov.uk on or call into your

Jobcentre Plus or pension centre.

18 Link


AROUND THE HOUSES

Viridian working for you

We have over 6,000 homes for families, couples and single people. Each year, we

build new homes and refurbish old properties, often working with partners to help

regenerate whole neighbourhoods. Our homes are spread around London and the

South East, West Sussex and the Midlands.

Link caught up with some of our residents to discuss life in our properties.

Midlands

New resident association

formed at Dwyer House

Tracy Fullard, Scheme Manager at Dwyer

House and Doreen Hill, member of the

National Residents Forum, put on a social

event at Dwyer House to encourage residents

to form their own association.

There are already a number of events in the

pipeline including exercise classes, bingo

sessions, quiz nights, tea and toast mornings, a

beetle drive, fish and chip suppers and card

making sessions.

The evening was a great success and resulted

in five volunteers joining the newly formed

resident association.

Residents go digital

Residents at retirement houses

Barbara Glasgow, Catherine Court

and Elizabeth Prout Gardens are

moving online with the help of the

government’s ‘Go Digital’ initiative.

The initiative aims to provide online access to

the elderly and vulnerable.

Each scheme has been provided with all of

the necessary equipment and support such as

computer hardware, installation and training to

help them learn.

Joan Vipond has mastered

the wonders of computers.

Catherine Court residents

at their computer club.

So far the result has been fantastic with positive

reviews from residents. At Catherine Court

nearly 50 percent of the residents joined the

programme.

“I am 93 years old and I find this has helped

me a lot because I can get in touch with my

daughter in Australia, and even see her via

Skype. I could never have done this before,”

resident Joan Vipond said.

autumn 2011

19


AROUND THE HOUSES

Windows and doors

for Elizabeth Prout Gardens

Elizabeth Prout Gardens, one

of our retirement homes in the

West Midlands, has now got

new windows and doors in all

76 properties.

Mrs Jansen commented that the

improvement to the look and

comfort of her flat is very much

appreciated.

“Elizabeth Prout Gardens is the

talk of Blackheath. The face-lift

makes it looks like a brand new

scheme. With the words ‘Welcome

to Elizabeth Prout Gardens’ on the

glass of the new main entrance

door it certainly is a place you now

feel very proud to walk in to,”

she said.

Elizabeth Prout

Gardens resident

Mrs Bridgewater.

Congratulations to the Midlands

Reinvestment Team for their hard work.

The communal entrance door

at Elizabeth Prout Gardens.

PJA and Flemming

Construction with Scheme

Manager Ann Adams.

20 Link


West Sussex

Mortgage rescue making a difference

AROUND THE HOUSES

Mortgage rescue is a great

new initiative that helps

people who are in financial

difficulty to continue to live

in their home. Alongside the

Homes and Communities

Agency (HCA) we help

people who have fallen into

debt and enable them to

keep their home.

Working with the HCA, we are

able to buy the property and

rent it back to residents at a

subsidised rent. Residents are

then given the option to buy

back the property after three

years.

We helped one of our residents,

Mrs Timms with mortgage

rescue which allowed her and

her three children to continue

living in their family home.

Mrs Timms and her husband

lived in the home for many

years but they got behind in

their mortgage repayments

after financial difficulties.

Unfortunately, Mr and Mrs

Timms separated and Mrs

Timms felt a massive amount of

pressure to try and sort a home

out for her three children.

We helped Mrs Timms continue

to live in the home she has

raised her children in. She

loves having the security of a

housing association property

where she doesn’t have to

worry if a repair is needed

and how to find the money to

cover it. Mrs Timms now lives a

healthy lifestyle with no stress.

She has also seen a difference

in her children who are no

longer worried about losing their

home.

For more information about

mortgage rescue contact

Hannah Jones via email on

hannah.jones@viridianhousing.

org.uk.

Our local offer to you

Developing local offers

involves tailoring our

services to suit your local

priorities. We achieve

this by talking to our

residents to find out what

is important to them.

We began delivering and

monitoring local offers from

April 2011.

We regularly inspect our general

needs housing estates to make

sure they are in good condition.

Back in April you told us that

it’s just as important to have

good neighbourhoods and

feel safe and secure in them.

From your feedback we

agreed to complete a crime

prevention audit on all of our

estates in West Sussex by

March 2012. Here is an update

on our progress so far.

Our Anti-Social Behaviour

officer, Anita MacMahon has

completed crime prevention

audits with a crime prevention

officer for 19 of our 23 estates

in West Sussex. The audits

look at a number of standard

criteria on all the estates such

as lighting, fencing, planting,

security, car parking, graffiti,

litter and damage.

We were really delighted that

following 19 audits there was

only one recommendation

made by the crime prevention

officer, and this was to install

gate access to alleyways on our

estate in Brickfield Close, Bognor

Regis. As we were already on

site replacing fencing we asked

the contractor to install the

gates to make this area safer.

We will be carrying out the

remaining four audits in the

next few months.

If you have any concerns about

your estates please contact the

West Sussex customer service

centre on 01903 734339.

We are also interested to hear

about any other community

based projects you would

like us to consider working

on. Please contact your local

housing officer.

autumn 2011

21


AROUND THE HOUSES

London

Raising the roof

in Earls Court

Residents at Millicent Buller House

have created and maintained a

wonderful roof-top garden.

Belinda Volpeliere and Roger Cavill, two long

term residents at Millicent Buller House, were

awarded first prize in their category by the

Brighter Kensington and Chelsea Scheme for

the second year running

Scheme Manager, Elise Pinder, said all of the

residents in the block were delighted about

the win.

A toast to a

beautiful garden

for the second

year in a row.

“The residents appreciate the

garden and all of the hard work that

Belinda and Roger do everyday to

keep it looking fabulous,”

she said.

We would like to congratulate the team on

their win and also say thank you for their hard

work.

The Millicent Buller House

winning roof-top garden.

22 Link


AROUND THE HOUSES

Hackney residents

given a helping bag

Hackney residents have been given a helping hand, or

bag for that matter, to assist them with recycling at home.

The reusable recycling bags were distributed courtesy of the local

Hackney Council for residents to keep and store recycling within

their flat and help them transport their recycling to the recycling

bins.

Last year Hackney residents saved a massive £500,000 by

recycling and are looking to save even more this year.

If you would like to find out more about recycling visit

www.recycleforlondon.com/local.

New homes for Elizabeth House

in Cheam

Last year we won the opportunity to

regenerate the Elizabeth House site in

Cheam which will allow us to provide 131

homes to residents by 2014.

Progress has been steady with an informal

consultation being held with the local

community. 116 people attended, half of which

provided valuable feedback.

We have now used that feedback to help draft

the full planning application which will take

into consideration important elements such as

conservation and heritage.

Neighbours of the development who attended

the consultation praised Project Manager

Jacquie Messenger saying, “it was good to

meet you, your time and honesty in explaining

the plans for Mickleham and Pond Hill Gardens

was very much appreciated”.

Residents took an active role

at the planning consultation.

autumn 2011

23


LIFESTYLE

Spinach and feta muffins

Ingredients

1 egg

3/4 water

2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

100 grams (3½ oz) low-fat feta

cheese, crumbled or cut into 1cm cubes

1 cup of finely chopped baby spinach

2/3 cup low-fat grated cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, to top muffins

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F or gas mark 4). Grease a 12 cup muffin tin

or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.

2. Mix all ingredients together except parmesan. It will be very solid.

3. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with parmesan

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden. Makes 12.

Healthy? 120 calories.

Gluten free? Swap out the flour for a gluten free alternative.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise are best eaten within a couple of

days. Store in an airtight container.

If you would like more yummy and healthy recipes like this

visit www.clevermuffin.com.

24 Link


LIFESTYLE

All I want for Christmas

Words to find:

bag, bicycle, board game, book, coat, computer, cuddly toy, doll, dressing

gown, felt pens, football, gloves, hat, kite, mobile phone, money, paintbox,

playstation, puzzle, scooter, skateboard, sledge, teddy bear, trainers, xbox.

autumn 2011

25


The period covered in this edition is April 2011 to June 2011.

doing?

Edition 9. Quarter 1, 2011-2012

How are we

“How are we doing?” is our quarterly performance report which

provides residents with information on how we are performing.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction with services

ASB handling

53%

80%

June 2011

2011-12 target

Complaints handling

29%

60%

Customer

Services Centre

78%

80%

Allocations

and lettings

93%

90%

Responsive repairs

79%

85%

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

We understand how important it is to deal with complaints effectively. Residents have been telling us we need to

deal with complaints better so we consulted a complaints specialist in order to develop a faster, more sympathetic

service that delivers real solutions. The proposal is for a customer solutions team which we piloted in August 2011.

Customer services

% of telephone calls answered within five rings (20 seconds)

100%

90%

Total number of calls

received between

April 2011 to June 2011

30,913

80%

70%

79%

76% 76%

82%

Number of calls

answered within

five rings

25,349

60%

50%

40%

% of calls answered

within five rings

82%

30%

20%

Up to Sep ‘10 Up to Dec ‘10 Up to Mar ‘11 Up to Jun ‘11

Our 2011-12 target is 80%

26 Link


Repairs and maintenance

% emergency repairs completed in 24 hours

100%

90%

95%

Total number of

emergency repairs

reported between

April 2011 to June 2011

1,151

80%

70%

84%

87%

88%

Number completed

in target

1,094

60%

50%

% completed in target 95%

40%

30%

20%

Up to Sep ‘10 Up to Dec ‘10 Up to Mar ‘11 Up to Jun ‘11

Our 2011-12 target is 100%

% of responsive repairs where an appointment was arranged and kept

100%

90%

Total number of repairs

appointments made

between April 2011 to

June 2011

9,183

80%

70%

81% 80% 80% 81%

Number of

appointments kept

7,470

60%

50%

40%

% of appointments

kept

81%

30%

20%

Up to Sep ‘10 Up to Dec ‘10 Up to Mar ‘11 Up to Jun ‘11

Our 2011-12 target is 97%

Our performance in this area is continuing to fall short of our 97% target. As a first step towards

addressing this, we are developing a detailed missed appointment report to understand the reasons

for missed appointments in more detail. The findings will then be used to drive improvements.

For further information please visit www.viridianhousing.org.uk/ourperformance or call us on 0330 123

0220. If you need help understanding this information or would like it in another language or format

please contact your local office or call the business excellence team on 0330 123 0220.

autumn 2011

27


Colwell House

376 Clapham Road

London, SW9 9AR

Tel: 0330 123 0220

Fax: 020 3202 3601

Email:

csclondon@viridianhousing.org.uk

Minicom: 0330 123 0221

Want to

contact

us?

Want to get

involved?

Contact: RICE Team

Phone: 0330 123 0220

Email:

RICE.team@@viridianhousing.org.uk

www.viridianhousing.org.uk

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