‘Making a Difference’ in the local community

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Winter 2011 - Viridian Housing

WINTER 2012

‘Making a Difference’

in the local community

3 12 17 19

Introducing My Viridian

A trip to the seaside

Update on our

Olympic hopeful

My freshers week

at Middlesex


WINTER 2012

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

Worthing resident Mark Brook

(far left), with volunteers.

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…

6 National Customer Service Week 2011

Find out how we made a difference through

National Customer Service Week 2011.

9 New directorate to improve quality of life

for residents

A new directorate will be established by April

next year to focus on improving the quality of life

for our residents.

20 Enter our young people’s writing competition

Are you a budding writer? Put pen to paper

and let your creative genius flow!

3 News

9 Social impact

13 Resident involvement

14 Around the houses

Happy new year from Viridian

We hope 2012 will be a special year for Viridian and for you. We

are about to launch our new five year strategy which is all about

delivering quality of life for you.

We will be setting up a new Social Impact Directorate on the 1 April

which will have close to £1 million of new money to invest into:

employment and education projects

helping more of you use the internet

more aids and adaptations to our homes

advising you on energy efficiency, finances, health and housing

options.

At the same time, we will continue our push to deliver brilliant basics,

whether that be carrying out a repair or answering a rent query.

We both believe deeply that we need more of you to help us steer

the direction our organisation is going and deliver the best possible

services. We would love you to get involved. If you would like to,

please contact us on 0330 123 0220 and we will let you know how.

Best wishes for 2012

Hattie Llewelyn-Davies

Viridian Board, Chair

Matthew Fox

Chief Executive

If you would like to submit an article or take part in the

editorial meeting for the spring edition of Link, please email

communications@viridianhousing.org.uk.

Want to get in contact with us?

Communications team 0330 123 0220

21 Our services

23 Noticeboard

24 Lifestyle

26 How are we doing?

communications@viridianhousing.org.uk

www.viridianhousing.org.uk/about_us/our-publications/Link

2 Link


Introducing My Viridian

NEWS

Are you looking for a faster way

to check your rent statements?

Why not register for My Viridian?

My Viridian is an online tool to help you log

repairs, view rent account information, and

keep your tenancy information up to date.

This new service is completely free, and can be

accessed through our website homepage.

By managing your account online you can:

Save time and avoid telephone queues;

Pay your rent online;

Check your repair status and account

information 24/7;

Tell us how you would prefer to be contacted;

Register yourself for our resident involvement

groups; and

View upcoming repair appointments.

It’s also a chance for us to let you know about

upcoming events or changes to our services.

Over the next 12 months, we will be focusing

on improving this service and bringing more

functions to the site. We will also be developing

a mobile application, so you can report repairs

on the go.

Want to sign up?

Visit: www.viridianhousing.org.uk/myviridian

or

Contact: Customer Service Centre

Phone: 0330 123 0220

Email: customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Government supports our

crackdown on subletting

Residents who sublet their homes could be

jailed under proposals being considered by the

government.

Under the new proposals, properties will be

taken from the subletter and rented to those in

greater need of affordable housing.

This news coincides with our own crackdown on

illegal subletting. We have recently appointed a

Tenancy Fraud Officer. Anyone caught

subletting will not only lose their home, but also

be ordered to pay back any money made.

So far this year, we have taken back 28

properties and collected £26,000 in paybacks

from those who were guilty. All proceeds are put

into building new affordable homes.

If you suspect someone is subletting, email

us in complete confidence at subletting@

viridianhousing.org.uk or call our Customer

Service Centre on 0330 123 0220

winter 2012

3


NEWS

Your new neighbourhood management team.

Changing

the way we

support you

Our Housing team launched a pilot program

this month, which will affect residents in north

London. This will be a new focus and new way of

working for us. The pilot aims to provide a better

service for residents, by having smaller groups

of homes for our housing officers to look after. It

means a more personable service for residents

and a greater positive impact on their lives.

Prior to this pilot, the north London region had

four Housing Officers, looking after about 310

homes. The pilot has seen this change to one

Area Manager, five Neighbourhood Managers,

and the help of one Neighbourhood Assistant,

looking after 250 homes.

Employees who are part of the project have

mobile devices so they can be contacted by

residents when out of the office. Residents will

be able to report repairs and raise queries with

their Neighbourhood Manager. There will also

be much more one-on-one contact between

residents and the Neighbourhood Managers,

which we hope will create a closer relationship

and improve the services we provide.

The pilot will run until July 2012.

Do you want more information?

Melissa Gent 0330 123 0220

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

4 Link


NEWS

A new retirement village

in south-east London

Last year we started the construction of an

affordable retirement village, Halton Court, as part

of the £1 billion Kidbrooke regeneration project in

south-east London.

The new development will offer 4800 new homes,

of which 38% will be affordable – including Halton

Court, which is due for completion by March 2013.

Halton Court will be made up of 170 self-contained

flats. Of these 170 two-bedroom homes, 150 will

be available to rent, while 20 will be available as

shared ownership.

Care and Support Director, Matt Campion, said

the development has allowed us to construct

exactly what our residents’ need and want in

affordable over 55’s accommodation.

“The flats have been designed to allow residents

to live in a safe and supported community without

having to move later on if they become frail or

in need of care,” Matt said. “The complex will

also have state-of-the-art facilities, including

a restaurant and bar, as well as hair and nail

salon, gardening and art rooms and a cinema.

An artist’s representation of

the entrance to the communal

facilities at Halton Court.

All flats will have their own private balcony, with

recreational land surrounding the site and a roof

garden on the fifth floor.”

Kidbrooke Village will also create 1000 new jobs,

a new school, community and retail space, new

parks and better transport.

Homes at Halton Court will be offered to elderly

residents in need of affordable housing, who are

referred to us by Greenwich Council.

For information on shared ownership:

Jacquie Messenger 0330 123 0220

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

Residents visit Kidbrooke

Soon after construction started on Halton Court,

residents from one of our nearby retirement

housing schemes, Conniffe Court, were invited

to visit the site.

Residents Deana Allen and Lil Mansfield, along

with Scheme Manager, Angela Thompson, were

given a tour of Kidbooke Village and the site

where Halton Court will soon stand.

Angela said they were very impressed with the quality

of the homes already built at Kidbrooke Village.

“We are confident the building will look amazing

when finished!” Angela said.

Conniffe Court Scheme Manager, Angela Thompson

(left), with residents Deana Allen and Lil Mansfield at

Kidbrooke Village.

winter 2012

5


NEWS

National Customer

Service Week 2011

Chief Executive,

Matthew Fox (back

row, fourth from left),

with employees

participating in cultural

dress-down day.

We once again took part in National

Customer Service Week (NCSW) this

year, with a range of events and

activities running across all offices

and many of our housing schemes.

Activities in our Colwell House office included

equality and diversity and social impact

seminars, as well as cultural-dress down day,

employee well being day and a ‘no emails

day’ - showing the importance of face-to-face

interaction.

As part of the week, we also hosted our very

own version of The Apprentice, with three teams

competing to raise money for a charity they

picked.

Chief Executive, Matthew Fox, along with

Deputy Chief Executive, Dean Epton and

Director of Finance, Tim Coppard, led the

three teams.

Matthew’s team created ‘Good Deed Day’,

asking employees to tell heart-warming stories

from across our organisation and schemes. At the

last count over 180 stories had been received.

Dean’s team organised an art competition for

employees and residents, who were asked to

create a poster expressing the positive impact

we have on our residents.

Tim’s team hosted a fundraising tea party and

raffle, raising more than £150 in tickets sales,

as well as another £2,000 through generous

donations from business partners, local

companies and individuals.

The Apprentice challenge also gave senior

level employees a taste of the day-to-day tasks

of the customer facing team. Chief Executive,

Matthew Fox, spent one day visiting residents’

homes with the Lettings team, while Director of

Operations, Heather Thomas, spent some time

with the Finance team.

6 Link


NEWS

In the end, Tim’s team came out the winners of

The Apprentice and decided to share their prize

money with all of the teams’ charities.

Head of Customer Services, Roy Morgan, said

the week was a great success.

“National Customer Services Week provided

many opportunities to recognise the efforts and

achievements of people working in customer

facing teams and customer support teams. It

was also a chance for us to show we genuinely

care about our customers and are continually

aiming to improve our services.”

Cutting the cake to open National Customer

Services Week 2011

The Apprentice

Challenge:

(From Left)

Deputy Chief

Executive,

Dean Epton,

Chief Executive,

Matthew Fox

and Director of

Finance, Tim

Coppard.

The Apprentice Challenge

- how we made a difference!

Over £2000 was raised through the Apprentice Challenge.

So, what did we do with the money?

A donation was given to Chisel Kids, a charity set up and

run by one of our residents, Jacci Francis. Chisel Kids helps

young people to be positive and steer away from anti-social

behaviour and crime. Jacci has already put the money to

good use by establishing a youth training programme.

Church Manor Homework club received a donation to buy

educational materials and equipment. Run by a group of

volunteers from the local church, the club is very popular

with about 20 children regularly attending.

Our domestic violence schemes received a donation to buy

outdoor play equipment for the children living at the homes.

Thank you to

those who donated:

Business partners rs

Berkeley Homes

United Housing

Studio Hagger

Calfordseaden

EPR

United House

Lovells

Housing and Property Law

Devonshires

Safeaid

Personal donations

Zarah Hayat

Taraq Beg

Matthew Fox

Local businesses

Dentons

Melissa’s Café

Tesco

Sainsbury’s

Premier Dry Cleaning

Grand Passion

Pooja’s

winter 2012

7


NEWS

New London offices

We have recently purchased Colwell

House in Clapham, south London, which

will eventually become the office for the

majority of our London based employees.

The current layout of the building will be

changed to make sure there is easier access for

residents, with the reception as one of the main

focus areas for improvement.

Residents who visited the reception last year

were asked to give their feedback about the

area. We asked visitors how much they liked the

way information was presented to them, how

comfortable they felt, and asked them for any

suggestions they had on the design and layout.

The new reception area will have easy access

for residents to get in and out of the building,

and there will be a special area where they

An outside view of Colwell House

can use the internet and also log onto My

Viridian our new online service for residents. The

new layout will have closed meeting rooms for

residents to meet with their housing officer or

other employees. There will be a mother’s room

and a quiet room which can be used for prayer.

We are aiming to have the redesign of Colwell

House completed by the end of March 2012 and

all employees moved in by April 2012.

Update on our solar panel project

In the summer edition of Link we announced our

plans to fit solar panels on the roofs of some of

our homes. The project was to be funded through

the government’s Feed-in-Tariffs scheme.

However, in October last year the government

announced it would be cutting this funding by

60%. This means instead of generating funds

to help us improve our homes, it would cost

us £29 million over 25 years to install, manage

and maintain the solar panels. Regrettably, this

means we can no longer move forward with the

project as it is not cost effective.

We remain committed to helping residents

reduce the cost of their energy bills. In 2010,

we installed cavity insulation in 1,100 homes,

reducing heat loss through the walls and roof.

We also encourage residents to find cheaper

energy solutions through the My Home Energy

Switch service.

For more information on the solar panel

project or the energy efficiency of our homes,

contact Karl Linder on 0330 123 0220 or

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk.

Need help finding the

cheapest energy solutions?

My Home Energy Switch 0880 015 5346

www.myhomeenergyswitch.org.uk

8 Link


New directorate to improve

quality of life for residents

SOCIAL IMPACT

Supported by employees,

the Board and the National

Residents Forum, the new

directorate will be established

by April this year. It will see us

become much more than just

a ‘bricks and mortar’ landlord,

as we extend our services to

help all residents get the most

out of life.

Chief Executive, Matthew Fox, said at

least £1 million of additional funding

will go towards the new directorate

during its first year of operation.

“We are here to deliver quality of life for our

residents and we will invest to help make it

happen,” Matthew said. “We believe housing

associations have a clear role to help improve

the lives of individual residents, households and

communities.”

This new social impact directorate will build on

what we already provide at our retirement,

support and care homes. New services will

include employment and financial advice,

housing advice and options, life skills, IT training,

The new directorate will work to improve residents’ lives

green advice, aids and adaptations to homes

and greater access to services provided by us

and other organisations.

Leading the directorate’s implementation is

Matt Campion, who is currently our Care and

Support Director.

“We will be consulting with residents to

understand what additional services we can

provide to really make a difference to their

lives,” Matt said. “We will provide some services

directly to residents and others will be provided

in partnership with specialist organisations.”

Matt said he is excited to see our core housing

services expand to meet the growing needs of

our residents.

“In these difficult economic times we recognise

it is more important than ever to help improve

our residents’ lives.”

Matt Campion

will lead the

new directorate.

For more information:

Matt Campion 0330 123 0220

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

winter 2012

9


SOCIAL IMPACT

‘Making a Difference’

in the local community

Worthing resident Mark Brook

(far left), with volunteers.

Some residents from West Sussex, London and the Midlands recently

received much needed maintenance to their home as part of our

‘Making a Difference’ volunteer project.

The project was all about

our employees and residents

creating positive social impact

to lives and homes in local

communities.

Worthing resident, Mark

Brook, is a single parent

and sole carer for his seven

year old son, Danny. Project

coordinator, DB Crawford, said

with no available funds or time

to tend to his home, Mark had

been feeling very distressed

about the condition of his

property.

“The walls were in desperate

need of paint,” DB said. “We

recognised that Mark was

unable to carry out the work

himself, and with a young son

it was very important their

home be a pleasant and safe

environment.”

The Making a Difference

project is a result of our

increased focus on social

impact and the importance

of going the extra mile for our

residents.

“When I told Mark his

nomination for the project

had been successful he

couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“As a single male parent, he is

constantly up against certain

stereotypes. This project will

have the biggest difference on

his life.”

Mark said, “If it wasn’t for the

Making a Difference project

I would have never got this

done. Tools and paint are very

expensive, so I was lucky that

my home was chosen to take

part.”

DB said it was great to see

employees and young

residents supporting those who

were in need of help.

“This has also been an

incredible opportunity for the

volunteers. We have all met

fantastic new people, shared

our experiences, had a laugh,

and most importantly been a

part of the residents’ lives.”

10 Link


SOCIAL IMPACT

Thank you to all

residents and

employees who

gave up their

time to make a

difference in the

local community.

Employees:

DB Crawford

Robert Cooper

Joyce Njenga

Joseph Brimpong

Clair Marie Payne

Andrew Logan

Dianne Gash

Marion Grant

Ben Wood

Flynn Samuel

Justin McCarthy

Rob Clack

Rajvinder Ponaich

Melissa Gent

Jerry Taylor

Jonathan Pace

Charlotte Paxton

Derrick Swallow

Amit Parmar

Linsey Noka

Louise McQuaide

Elisabeth McCausland

Katie Froome

Tony Wallace

Cliff Pearce

Stuart Hickman

Young residents:

Curtis Lownds

Kwabena Efah

Kingsley Omole

Jodie Gerald

The Making a

Difference awards

This month we are hosting our very first resident

awards ceremony, the ‘Making a Difference’ awards.

The awards are an opportunity

for us to recognise the

outstanding achievements

of groups and individuals in

our communities. A special

luncheon will be held on 18

January to present these

awards, and will be a great

way for our residents to come

together and celebrate each

other and the work they do.

The six categories to be

awarded are:

Young Person of the Year

Resident of the Year

Project of the Year

Outstanding Contribution

to Viridian

Taking a Stand

Making a Difference

Our employees and residents

have submitted many

nominations, and we have

found some very worthy

contenders. The winner

of each category will be

announced on the day.

There will also be recognition

certificates given out for those

people who have continually

given up their time to attend

meetings, fun days and other

activities, or who have helped

us out in some other way.

The four best nominations

will be put forwarded to the

national TPAS awards.

Good luck to everyone!

A full overview of the event

will be in the spring edition

of Link.

winter 2012

11


SOCIAL IMPACT

Community grants

Our community grants scheme recently funded two very

exciting trips for our supported housing residents.

A trip to the seaside

A group of 30 supported housing residents had a

fantastic day exploring Brighton last year.

The group enjoyed the fair rides at Brighton Pier,

lunch at Harry Ramsdens and an afternoon

wandering around the shops, pier and beach.

The London-based residents live in a range of our

supported schemes, including learning disability,

mental health and deaf services accommodation.

Supporting Housing Officer, Rebecca Holmes

(centre), with supported housing residents in

front of Brighton Pavilion.

A day out in London-town

Residents from

three mental health

projects at Earls Court

enjoyed a day out in

London last year.

Accompanied by

Supported Housing

Officers Nicky

Cooper and Nigel

Colbert, the residents

visited London Zoo,

enjoyed a lovely

lunch and took a

ride on the narrow

boat from Little

Venice to Camden

Lock and back.

Nicky Cooper said the day was a fantastic way

to bring the residents together.

“The residents really enjoyed themselves, and

so did we!” Nicky said. “They rarely get to spent

time with each other, and this outing allowed

them to socialise and participate in activities

that they wouldn’t

normally be able to

do. By organising

activities like this we

hope to encourage

our residents to be

more active, explore

London and promote

wider community

involvement.”

A resident enjoying his

time at London Zoo

One resident commented on his experience

of the day, “I thoroughly enjoyed the day, the

company was good and seeing the animals

was fun. I would like to participate in activities

like this one again in the future. The day went

very quickly and we didn’t have enough time to

see all the animals, but it opened my eyes and I

would definitely go again.”

Interested in applying for a grant?

RICE team 0330 123 0220

RICE.team@viridianhousing.org.uk

12 Link


RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT

Introducing our

resident auditors

RICE Officer Joyce Njenga (centre),

with resident auditors (from left)

Hugh, Yvette, Doreen, David.

After completing a taster session in February last

year, a group of residents signed up to help us

find out what works and what doesn’t work.

Resident Involvement Community Engagement

(RICE) Officer, Joyce Njenga, said the auditors

gave us valuable insight into how our services

are seen from a customer point of view.

”The auditors look at the systems we use to

deliver services, visit our estates across all

Our very first team of resident auditors

were hard at work during 2011

monitoring the services we provide.

regions, and read information about how we

are doing,” she said.

A report is now being put together on the

strengths of each service and where we can

improve, with suggestions for change.

“The residents have given up a lot of their

time to help us out. This has also been a great

opportunity for them to develop their interviewing,

observation and people skills,” Joyce said.

Update from the Regional Scrutiny Panels

The Regional Scrutiny Panels met with some

of our managers late last year to discuss local

issues. It is great to see membership numbers

have increased in all areas, and feedback has

been very useful. Key issues identified at the

scrutiny panel meetings were:

East Midlands – antisocial behaviour and repairs

to communal areas

West Midlands – mobility scooter storage at

retirement homes

London – local offers and how these can be

developed

West Sussex – performance information review

Our Housing and Repairs teams are now working

to resolve these issues.

Update from the National

Residents’ Forum

At the last National Residents’ Forum (NRF)

meeting the group discussed two important

proposals.

The first was the plan to launch a new social

impact directorate, which is now in the

process of being set up. The forum was in full

support of this initiative. Turn to page nine for

more information on the new directorate.

The second proposal discussed was the

housing pilot project. The forum also

supported this proposal and is looking forward

to reviewing it in six months time. Turn to page

four for more information on the housing pilot.

New group launching

this year!

Do you run your own business? This year we

are launching a brand new forum, where

residents can exchange ideas, expertise and

advertise their services.

Interested in getting involved?

For more information on any of our resident

involvement groups contact the RICE team

RICE team 0330 123 0220

RICE.team@viridianhousing.org.uk

www.viridianhousing.org.uk/myviridian and tick

the relevant box in the getting involved section.

winter 2012

13


AROUND THE HOUSES

Midlands

Resident celebrates

102nd birthday!

A resident at Castillo Court retirement housing scheme

in Birmingham, Gladys Spring, recently celebrated her

102nd birthday – making her our oldest resident.

Gladys Spring

Gladys still enjoys playing bingo twice a week, and

spends her day doing crosswords. She also attends a

fitness class once a week.

Gladys has now received three birthday cards from the

Queen.

Happy 102nd Birthday Gladys, and we hope you see

many more!

Birmingham

garden competition

Mr and Mrs Wickett’s winning garden

Last year, residents in the East Midlands

were invited to enter their garden in

the first annual Birmingham garden

competition.

Front and back gardens, tubs and

hanging baskets were all judged, with the

top three gardens offered a prize of £50 each.

In the end the three most impressive gardens

were found at Perry Common. The winners

were:

Mr and Mrs Wickett

Ms Susan Astley

Mr and Mrs Austin

Congratulations to all and we hope to see

more fabulous gardens later this year!

Mrs Astley receiving her prize

14 Link


AROUND THE HOUSES

Street meets in the East Midlands

The East Midlands Housing

team has been busy lately

hosting a series of street meets

getting to know our residents.

These events took place at

Daventry, Rushden and Milton

Keynes.

The street meet at Milton Keynes

saw the East Midlands housing team

join forces with a number of local

organisations.

Residents were taught about fire

safety from the local fire brigade,

who carried out home fire safety

checks. The police helped housing

employees carry out a crime

prevention audit of the estate, and

made recommendations to improve

(From left) Jason Maycock, Colin Cooper, Graham

security. Residents were provided

Taylor-Paddick, Susan Daish, and Christine Duncan

with door and window alarms, as at the Milton Keyes street meet.

well as timing devices which turn

lights on to give the impression

someone is at home. Milton Keynes Council

offered information about the latest procedures For more information:

in waste collection and recycling, and the Milton

East Midlands Housing team 0330 123 0220

Keynes Credit Union spoke to residents about

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

making better choices with savings and loans.

Developments in the Midlands

The past three years have seen big

changes and continued investment in

the Midlands region.

Over the past 12 months, nearly £4 million has

been spent upgrading properties in the region.

In this time, we have installed 185 new bathrooms,

167 new kitchens, painted 89 properties, installed

424 new boilers and replaced windows and doors

in 254 general needs and retirement housing.

In the coming financial year we will be investing a

further £1.3 million in kitchen and bathrooms, fire,

health and safety work, mechanical engineering,

including boiler and lift upgrades, installing CCTV

systems and improving boundary security.

We are also investigating the latest eco friendly

and cost efficient building materials. This will

lower production costs for residents and give the

properties a longer and more sustainable life.

For more information:

Barry Pearce 0330 123 0220

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

winter 2012

15


AROUND THE HOUSES

Saltley Estate fun day

A young resident shows

off his face paint

Saltley Estate in

Birmingham hosted

a fun day in October,

which saw the entire

community come

together.

Face painting and a bungee

run were arranged for the

children, along with a pizza

lunch and cake for dessert.

One resident offered her artistry

and was kept busy painting henna tattoos.

Henna tattoos

Housing Officer, Derrick Swallow, said the day

was a great success.

“We couldn’t have hoped for anything better,”

Derrick said. “There was an excellent turn out

and everyone seems to enjoy themselves and

appreciate the effort we put into the day.”

One resident commented that he “had never

seen everyone get together like

this before.”

The day also led to 12 residents signing up for the

Active Residents Club.

Residents enjoyed

the free food

To organise a fun day in

your area, please contact:

RICE team 0330 123 0220

RICE.team@viridianhousing.org.uk

Social club at

Harmony House

The social club at Harmony House was

recently brought back to life with a lively

social night, full of entertainment, food

and drinks.

Scheme Manager at Harmony House,

Sajid Shaikh, said the evening was truly

remarkable.

“It was a huge surprise to see so

many people turn up and how much

16 Link

everyone enjoyed the night, especially

the residents,” Sajid said.

Following on from the success of the

evening, a group of residents have

formed their own social club, The

Harmony House Club. The club has

been steadily filling the social agenda

with regular activities.

Residents enjoying a

dance at the social night


London

Update on our Olympic hopeful

AROUND THE HOUSES

Robins Halls resident, Ezekiel

Ewulo, is another step closer

to his dream of competing in

long jump at the London 2012

Olympic Games.

Ezekiel, who featured on the

cover of our summer edition

of Link magazine, was excited

to let us know he is now

training full time.

“I’m now accessing the main

training base in Birmingham to

work with Aston Moore, who

is also the coach of Olympic

silver medallist Phillip Idowu,”

Ezkiel said. “I have a good

chance of making the 2012

Olympic team, and I’m going

to give it my best shot.”

After securing sponsorship from

us earlier this year, Ezekiel said

he has had a great season.

“Thanks to the support of

Viridian Housing, I was able

to end the season on a high

note,” he said. “For the first

time (in my career) I was

selected to represent the

Ezekiel at his

first senior Great Britain

International competition

Great Britain and Northern

Ireland senior team in a

match against USA.”

Ezekiel’s next stop is the indoor

competition season.

The Pretty Women’s group

Residents at John Morris House in Battersea recently launched a

support group for deaf women living in the home. Led by Elizabeth

Alli, the group have named themselves the Pretty Women’s Group.

Late last year, the Pretty Women’s Group held a bake sale at our

Colwell House offices to raise money for their Christmas trip. The

ladies had a fantastic time and were very impressed with the

office and all employees they met.

Halloween

party at

Catherine Court

Residents at Catherine

Court celebrated

Halloween last year by

hosting a dress up party.

Update on Dawes House

in Battersea

Due to the poor physical condition of Dawes House care home

in Battersea, Wandsworth council is looking to close the home by

March 2012.

We are currently contracted to provide care support for Dawes House

residents, with this contract also due to expire in March this year.

As the building is no longer fit for purpose, over the next few months

we will be working alongside Wandsworth council to help re-house

the residents to more suitable accommodation.

For more information:

Customer Service Centre 0330 123 0220

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

winter 2012

17


AROUND THE HOUSES

London

Jobs fair for Lambeth residents

Last year we co-hosted a free jobs fair for

residents at Lambeth Town Hall.

The 550 guests who attended had the opportunity

to meet employers, get advice on CV writing and

interview techniques, as well as talk to local

training providers and recruitment agencies.

Employers were also there advertising vacancies,

apprenticeships and other opportunities.

Viridian RICE Officer, Brian Akintokun, said he

was delighted with the turnout and feedback

from this event.

“The response from this event has shown us

how important these events are to people

and businesses and support us in our

commitment to helping residents get into

sustainable employment.”

For more information on this

and upcoming events:

Brian Akintokun 0330 123 0220

RICE.team@viridianhousing.org.uk

West Sussex

Extra funding for schools in West Sussex

Good news for schools in Bognor Regis,

Littlehampton and Worthing. For each child who

is registered to receive free school meals, their

school will receive an extra £488 per student. This

extra funding will help to support students from

reception to year 11.

Schools in the area will also receive an extra

£554,000, which will be used to improve the

education and the classroom. This will benefit all

pupils.

If you are unsure whether your child is eligible to

receive free school meals, please contact your

school. If you are eligible it will help your child as

well as provide funding for the school.

Southern Water’s

metering programme

The south east of the UK has been classified by the government

as an area of water stress. As the population continues to grow,

water resources will need to stretch further.

To help fix this issue, Southern Water are installing over 500,000

water meters to homes in Sussex, Hampshire and Kent by the end

of 2015. By this time 90% of homes in the area will be metered.

This means the way your water bill is calculated could change.

For those who may find it difficult to pay their metered water bill,

Southern Water have set-up a range of support programmes.

Information is available on

the Southern Water website

www.southernwater.co.uk/

metering or by calling the

Metering Customer Contact

Centre on 0333 2003 012.

18 Link


YOUNG RESIDENTS

My freshers’ week

at Middlesex…

Moving out of home and beginning university can be a nerve-racking experience.

So in September last year, we hosted a fete at Platts Hall to get all of our new

starters at Middlesex to mix and mingle.

Read on to find out what some

of the students thought of their

first week as a Viridian resident...

Rose Crumpton

My freshers’ week at

Middlesex? Where can I start?

It has been the most exciting,

nerve-racking,

emotional,

scary,

independent

and fun

experience of

my life so far!

Rose (right) and

a friend enjoy the

festivities

Everyone

has been

so helpful

and friendly,

so I have never felt alone

or afraid. The move at the

beginning of the week was

very daunting, but with the

help and friendly assistance of

Viridian employees and other

students at Middlesex, I have

been able to settle in without

any hassle whatsoever.

My favourite part of freshers’

week, other than going

out in London every day

and managing to cook a

meal without it burning, was

the welcome fete at Platt

Halls. There was amazing

entertainment, free food, a

lovely atmosphere, perfect

weather and beautiful

people.

Thank you Viridian and

Middlesex!

Josh Harries

It was so nice to be given

the opportunity to meet

new students and also

explore a new area of

London. The team members

were polite and very helpful.

All of the stands had useful

information. It was a great day

as the sun was shining and we

all had lots of fun together. My

friends and I were discussing

how well thought-out the

event was and how we

would love to come back to

something like this again.

Sophie Bailey

The fete was a great day. I

came with friends from my flat

and it was a good chance

to meet everyone from the

other halls. The event was a

perfect way to find out all the

information we needed to

know about living in halls, as

well as an opportunity to sign

up for university activities. The

weather was fantastic and

we all had a lovely afternoon

eating, drinking and getting to

know each other. There were

a few competitions and I was

lucky enough to win a free

cinema pass for a year!

Lauren Hill

I really enjoyed the selection of

vibrant and fun food which was

on offer, as well as the free ice

cream and fun fair rides! I would

definitely give the day a 10/10.

winter 2012

19


YOUNG RESIDENTS

Black History Month

and our young residents

Black History Month (BHM) was

celebrated across our offices

and many of our schemes

last October. BHM is an

opportunity for us to recognise e

the contributions of black men

and women to British society.

Several supported housing

schemes for young people in

Wandsworth and Merton took

part in the festivities.

Blackshaw House enjoyed

traditional Caribbean

food and participated in a

workshop by professional steel

pan player, Jerry Archer. Jerry

performed for the group and

told the interesting story of the

instrument’s origin. The house

representative also acted as

DJ for the evening, playing a

selection of urban music.

Steal drums workshop

At our Hartfield Road scheme,

residents and employees also

enjoy traditional Afro-Caribbean

food, as well as watched the

insightful film, The Colour Purple.

Residents and employees

at the Byrne Road scheme

dressed up in their best suits

and frocks to enjoy their Afro-

Caribbean food together.

Everyone is now looking

forward to this year’s Black

History Month celebrations!

Enter our young peoples

writing competition

A circus to end

the semester!

We hosted a rather unusual

and energetic summer

event last year at Middlesex

University halls

– a circus!

Students,

guests and

employees

enjoyed

themselves on

amusement

rides, and

with the

Andy Grant rides

the carousel

outrageous balloon creations

and caricature drawings!

The event ended in a bang

with fireworks and a Viridian

fire display (pictured).

Are you a budding writer? Do you

have something to write about?

We are hosting a young peoples writing

competition, giving young writers the

opportunity to showcase their work.

Any resident aged between 18 and 25

years can enter, with the winner’s piece

featuring in an upcoming edition of Link.

You can write about any topic you think

other residents would find interesting –

an exciting event in your community,

an activity or project you’re involved in,

or perhaps a lifestyle article about

keeping fit!

Try to keep your article to about 300

words, and if you can, send us an

image to support your writing.

So what are you waiting for? Put pen to

paper and let your creative genius flow!

To enter, simply email your story to

communications@viridianhousing.

org.uk or send it to us through

our freepost address:

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR,

Communications, Viridian Housing,

Colwell House, 376 Clapham Road

London SW9 9AR

20 Link


OUR SERVICES

Handyman service

for over 65s

This month we have launched a pilot

handyman service, which is available

to all residents over 65 years who live in

London postcodes SW16 or SW18.

We are providing this service to help residents

with tasks around the home. This is in addition to

the regular maintenance service we provide.

How do I get a handyman to visit my

home?

To arrange a handyman visit please call the

Customer Service Centre on number 0330 123 0220.

How do I know if I am eligible for the

service?

You qualify for this service if you are over 65

years and living in London postcodes SW16 or

SW18. If the service is a success in these areas,

we will look at expanding to more postcodes.

How much does this service cost?

The cost of a handyman is £15 per hour, with a

minimum charge of one hour. We may visit your

home beforehand to assess how long the work

will take. This way, we can let you know the

maximum you could be charged for the job.

There may also be charges for any materials

needed for the job, but we will agree this with

you before work starts.

What if I can’t afford it?

We have tried to keep this service affordable

by offering a reduced rate of £15 per hour.

However, we may be able to help those who

are experiencing particular financial hardship.

How and when do I pay?

All jobs should be paid for in advance. The

Customer Service Centre will be happy to

receive payments by credit or debit card,

Paypoint or Allpay. We can also arrange other

methods of payment.

What jobs can the handyman do?

Whatever kind of job you have, such as

changing light bulbs, putting up shelves and

taking curtains down. Give us a call and we will

do our best to meet your needs.

For more information

Customer Service Centre 0330 123 0220

customerservices@viridianhousing.org.uk

winter 2012

21


OUR SERVICES

The new Customer

Solutions team

In the 2010/11 Annual Report we told you we

would be changing the way we deal with

complaints. This is because you told us that:

The current complaints process takes too long

You are not kept informed or updated on the

progress of your complaint

Complaints are not always resolved

To fix these issues, we have set up a new

Customer Solutions team. Residents will now be

given a dedicated Customer Solutions Officer,

who will deal with their complaint from the

beginning right through to the resolution. Now

Customer Solutions Officers (from left) John

Hargrave, Jasmine Gillard and Julia Shields.

you will know exactly who to call if you have any

questions during the process.

The new Customer Solutions Officers are Julia

Shields, John Hargrave and Jasmine Gillard.

If you ever have cause to complain, your first

port of call should always be the Customer

Service Centre or your Housing Officer. If they

are unable to help you, please contact the

Customer Solutions team on 0330 123 0220 or

email complaints@viridianhousing.org.uk

We’ve listened to you!

We use your feedback to identify where we can improve our

services and make changes. Here are some recent examples of

where you’ve helped us make positive changes to our services.

Issue Action Outcome

Repairs are not

always completed.

Sometimes we are

unprepared for queries

about Link articles.

Sometimes

complaints are not

followed through to

resolution.

Sometimes we

fail to arrive for

appointments,

because we do not

have the materials

needed for the job.

We will only mark a repair

as ‘complete’ on our

system, once all visits

have been carried out.

Link is now circulated to

all employees before it is

sent to residents.

The Customer Solutions

team has been set

up, with the Customer

Solutions Officers now

responsible for monitoring

the complaint through

to resolution.

We check all materials

are available before we

make an appointment.

Return visits will not

be forgotten and

arrangements will be

made to complete

the work.

This will make sure teams

are prepared for any

questions you may have.

Residents will receive

better service, with

one officer responsible

for seeing the

complaint through to

resolution.

This will make sure

appointments are not

cancelled at short

notice.

Can you spot

a good idea?

We are asking employees

to put forward ideas on

how we can improve the

way we work and provide

better services for residents.

All suggestions will be

considered by a selection

committee, and we’re

looking for residents to joins us

to decide which ideas would

have the biggest impact.

These meetings will be held

four times each year at

our Colwell House offices

in Clapham, south west

London. If you would like to

attend or want to find out

other ways to get involved,

please contact

Jane Jolly on 0330 123 0220

or email customerservices@

viridianhousing.org.uk.

22 Link


NOTICE BOARD

UK’s digital switchover

Many of you may already be

aware of the

UK’s digital switchover, which

is the process of

converting the analogue television system to

digital. Analogue transmitters around the country

have gradually been switched off since 2008,

with the last to be turned off in October this year.

The Midlands have now switched to digital,

with London and West Sussex to follow this

year. We are in the process of upgrading all

communal TV systems in our London and West

Sussex schemes. Residents in single homes are

responsible for upgrading their own television.

London Olympics

In July this year, London will be transformed into a world stage for

the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

In the 70 days leading up to the games, over

8000 people will form a relay of torchbearers

across the UK. The torch will visit almost every

corner of the country, with many local areas

hosting their own torch party.

To find out if the torch will be visiting your

neighbourhood, visit www.london2012.com/

olympic-torch-relay-map

A little help to stay warm

this winter

Cold Weather Payments

The cost of heating can quickly add up during winter. If

you’re receiving certain benefits from the government, ent,

you may also be able to get Cold Weather Payments.

Cold Weather Payments are given out when the local

temperature is recorded at zero degrees celsius or

below, over seven consecutive days.

How do I get Cold Weather Payments?

You don’t need to apply. If you are already receiving

certain benefits from the government you should be

eligible and given it automatically.

If you think you should have received a payment and

haven’t, contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 or the

Pension Service 0845 915 1515.

There are three main ways to go digital:

Convert your existing TV with a digital settop

box (eg Freeview, Top Up TV)

Get a service like satellite or cable TV

installed (eg Sky, Freesat, Virgin Media)

Get a new TV with digital built-in (eg

Freeview, Freesat)

For more information or to find out when the

transmitter will be turned off in your area, visit

www.digitaluk.co.uk or call 08456 50 50 50.

Will you be involved in the London Olympics?

Whether you will be volunteering, attending

or competing as an athlete, we want to hear

from you!

Email your story to communications@

viridianhousing.org.uk or send us a letter

via the freepost address.

Warm Home

Discount scheme

Electricity ity suppliers who are taking part

in the Warm Home Discount scheme

are offering a rebate of £120 to elderly

customers on low incomes, as well as

to other customers who are on low

incomes, are vulnerable or fuel poor.

Contact your electricity supplier to

find out if they are participating in the

scheme and if you are eligible. Or for

more information visit www.decc.gov.uk,

click on the Funding & Support tab, then

the Warm Home Discount Scheme link.

winter 2012

23


LIFESTYLE

Bacon and veggie slice

This slice is yummy, easy, packed full of

veges and the kids will love it! What more

could you ask for?

Preparation time: 20 minutes preparation,

50 minutes in the oven.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

4 rashes of rindless bacon, diced

½ onion, diced

1 ½ cups grated courgettes – about 2 medium zucchinis

1 cup grated carrot – about 1 large carrot

200 gram tin of whole corn kernels, drained

¾ cup of low fat cheese, grated

1 cup flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 eggs lightly beaten

¼ cup skim milk

Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 180 C. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin whatever is on hand,

or line with grease proof paper.

Fry the bacon and onion in a saucepan until bacon is cooked to your liking.

Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and mix through. Add in the bacon

and onion, and then pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 50 minutes or until it is golden on top.

Cut and serve!

Gluten free or vegetarian? This dish is very adaptable. It can be made with gluten

free flour or wholemeal flour. For vegetarians, simply leave out the bacon.

Healthy? Yes, as it is about 320 calories per serving. If you make it without bacon,

calories are reduced to 250 per serving.

Storage: Refrigerate and keep for up to three days.

If you would like more yummy and healthy recipes like this one,

visit www.clevermuffin.com

Bacon and veggie slice

24 Link


?

1. What was Gordon Brown’s job before he became Prime Minister?

Quiz time!

Students from the Church Manor Estate Homework Club

set these tricky quiz questions. Read on to see how many

you can get correct.

2. Who was the first king of England?

3. What is the symbol on the front of a United Kingdom passport?

4. Who was the queen before Queen Victoria?

5. How many things did ‘My True Love’ give to me on the

12th Day of Christmas?

6. What was the last year in which hieroglyphics were used?

LIFESTYLE

7. What colours make up the English flag?

8. Who was the first manager of Chelsea Football Club?

9. When did World War II begin?

10. How old was Henry VIII when he died?

11. Who is the President of U.S.A?

12. How old is Queen Elizabeth II?

Thanks to Hamza, Omari, Jamal, Pam Pam,

Jasdine, Ali, Anton, Rosie, Zainab, Bethlehem

and Marta for providing the questions.

Answers

1. Chancellor of the Exchequer

2. Offa (757-769)

3. The Coat of Arms with the Lion and the

Unicorn (dates back to 1603 with the

accession of James I of England who was

already James VI of Scotland)

4. Anne daughter of James I

(1702-1714)

5. 364

6. AD 394

7. A red plus sign on a white background

8. John Robertson (1905 – 1945)

9. 1939 (-1945)

10. 58 years (died 28 January 1547)

11. Barack Obama

12. 85 years (born 1926)

winter 2012

25


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

doing?

Edition 10, Quarter 2, 2011-12

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

Support service

Student service

Key worker service

Hostels service

ASB process

Customer Serv. Centre

Repairs service

Complaints process

Lettings service

50%

58%

60%

80%

76%

75%

80%

80%

85%

96%

95%

97%

95%

95%

95%

100%

95%

Apr-Sept 2011

2011-12 target

93%

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

Overall complaints performance and customer satisfaction has remained below target for some time. As a result,

a dedicated customer solutions team has been set up to improve performance in this area.

Customer services

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

100%

Total number of calls

received between April

to September 2011

6 1,733

90%

80%

70%

60%

76% 76%

82%

80%

Number of calls

answered within

five rings

% of calls answered

within five rings

49,386

80%

50%

40%

Our 2011-12 target is 80%

30%

20%

Apr’10-Dec’11 Apr’10-Mar’11 Apr-Jun’11 Apr-Sep’11

% of calls to our

Customer Services

Officers resolved at first

point of contact

75%

26 Link


Repairs and maintenance

% emergency repairs completed in 24 hours

100%

90%

95%

80%

70%

87%

88%

96%

Total number of

emergency repairs

reported between

April to September 2011

Number completed

in target

2,289

2,196

60%

50%

% completed in target 96%

40%

30%

20%

Apr’10-Dec’11 Apr’10-Mar’11 Apr-Jun’11 Apr-Sep’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 to

September 2011

19,737

80%

70%

80% 80% 81% 82%

Number of

appointments kept

16,158

60%

50%

40%

% of appointments

kept

82%

30%

20%

Apr’10-Dec’11 Apr’10-Mar’11 Apr-Jun’11 Apr-Sep’11

Our 2011-12 target is 97%

For more information www.viridianhousing.co.uk/ourperformance RICE team 0330 123 0220

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

such as Braille or large print, please contact the Business Excellence team on 0330 123 0220.

winter 2012 27


Want to contact us?

Colwell House

376 Clapham Road

London, SW9 9AR

Tel: 0330 123 0220

Fax: 020 3202 3601

Minicom: 0330 123 0221

Email: customerservices@@viridianhousing.org.uk

Post any mail

to us for free!

Freepost RSSL-TTHU-SYSR

Viridian Housing, Colwell House,

376 Clapham Road

London, SW9 9AR

Want to get

involved?

Contact: RICE Team

Phone: 0330 123 0220

Email:

RICE.team@@viridianhousing.org.uk

www.viridianhousing.org.uk

Link is produced on 75% recycled paper

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