Street Talk 66

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Winter 2020 | Issue 66



from all at



Find out how you can

have your say on the

services you receive

. . . see page 4

Read about how

residents have kept busy

during lockdown

. . . see page 11

Meet Prince Charles House's newest resident Babs, who wanted to continue enjoying

her independence of living alone with some additional support. Babs explains, “I feel

safe in my new home, and have a great community feeling here. Thanks to Ocean

I have something to smile about this Christmas.” To give Babs peace of mind, she

signed up for our lifeline service, find out how you can too on page 4.

Are you struggling

financially? Find out

how Ocean’s hardship

fund can help you

. . . see page 9

Our Christmas opening hours...

Our call centre will close for Christmas at 5pm on Wednesday 23rd December 2020

and will reopen at 8:30am on Monday 4th January 2021. Out of hours emergency

contact number: 01726 874450.



“I think that it’s fair to say that

this has been quite a year,

and the impact of the COVID

19 has had far reaching

effects upon us all.

A message from Mark Gardner, chief executive

In the first phase of lockdown

we focussed upon essential

health and safety property

compliance works and

emergency/urgent repairs,

but over the summer we

gradually returned all services

and have almost caught up

with all outstanding repair

requests. I am very grateful

for the partnership between

Ocean’s tenants and staff

team which has facilitated

this return to ‘almost normal’,

due to all of us complying

with social distancing and

health and safety work

practices. Most staff, including me, have been

working from home, but the teams have continued to

do a fantastic job in very challenging circumstances.

We must all continue to play our part in keeping each

other safe, as it is clear that this virus will take time to

get under control. Please download our Ocean App,

and use our website and your My Ocean accounts

to get in touch if you can, but we are here on the

telephone too if you need us.

The office will remain closed

though for the time being.

During lockdown, I was

delighted to see the creation

of ‘Together with Ocean'

(TWO), the new Ocean

tenants’ group, with whom

the Board and I have kept

in regular contact with, and

who have been a source of

great advice and guidance

as we planned our return of

services to tenants. As we

are official adopters of the

National Housing Federation’s

‘Together with Tenants’

(TWT) initiative, our journey

continues with tenants in

implementing the charter

to strengthen our positive

relationship with you. Our

TWO group are the voice of all tenants and we are

grateful for their time and commitment. I wish them

continued success and they have my full support.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding

during this very difficult year, and I wish you and your

families a very Happy Christmas, and let’s all hope for a

healthy and ‘normal’ New Year!

With my very best wishes. Mark

COVID -19, Coronavirus Pandemic

Please be aware that due to the ongoing

pandemic our reception remains closed.

Please continue to use our contact number to

report repairs and speak to an advisor on

01726 874450,

email help@oceanhousing.com

or visit


to check for updates.


Winter 2020 | Issue 66

Together with Ocean – Join us!

Your experience and views are so important to us, and

that’s why involving tenants in decision making is key to our

success. We realise we don’t get everything right all of the

time and so your feedback and support helps us to shape

and improve the services we offer. We are aware that so

many people have busy lifestyles and no two households

are the same. So we have launched our new tenant and

resident partnership, offering you different opportunities to

get involved, depending on the time and commitment you

are able to give.

The Together with Ocean partnership comes in a variety of

ways, in a gold, silver or bronze structure. Each partnership

comes with its own benefits, from winning vouchers to

free training and meetings with senior management.

Getting involved can be from the comfort of your own

home with our virtual internet panel (find out more on

page 4) or giving feedback as a monitor on our grounds

maintenance and communal cleaning services. If you are

able to commit to monthly meetings and would like to

meet with staff who head up our services, then the Together

with Ocean group is our gold partnership. Mandy from

Newquay is vice-chair of the group and has been involved

for several years. Mandy told us, “I’m really passionate

Mandy, Vice Chair,

'Together with Ocean'

about where I live and want tenants to know that changes and improvements

can be made with their help. The Together with Ocean group gives me the

opportunity to be heard and make a difference for all tenants and residents.

You can decide which partnership works for you and that fits into your lifestyle.”

Having residents at the heart of everything we do is essential to ensure we have a

positive relationship with every tenant and resident here at Ocean.

If you think you can make a difference and get involved in the services we provide then please get in touch with

our Tenant Partnership team who can let you know the options available and where you can get involved, email

help@oceanhousing.com or call 01726 874450.

Celebrating 50 years of

the Long Stone in Roche

Our Grounds Maintenance team have been

working hard in Roche during the lockdown

period. The team have upgraded the area around

the Long Stone, situated in Harmony Road. The

Long Stone was originally on the St Austell downs

around 3000 years ago and was moved to the

village green in Roche back in 1970. This year its

celebrates 50 years of its relocation and tenants

and residents will be able to enjoy the spring bulbs

and flowers in the coming months.




Do you find yourself with a

lot more time on your hands

recently due to the pandemic

and restrictions? Or perhaps

you are missing the social

aspect that so many are at the

moment. We have the easiest

way to get involved and make new

friends from the comfort of your own home. There is

no need to worry about the commitment of monthly

meetings, travel expense or

finding childcare. Our Virtual

Internet Panel is an easy way

to have your say using your

phone, tablet or laptop.

Essentially it’s a one stop shop

for tenants and residents

to provide feedback, start

conversations and help create

a real online community. Your

experiences and views really

matter to us and your feedback

helps us to shape and improve

Become an Ocean VIP!

the services we offer. On this digital platform you

will be able to complete surveys and polls, write

comments on forums, or even pen your own blog.

You can expect anything from discussions on policies

and procedures to cleaning tips around the home.

Now for the fun part, for every contribution you make

on the website you will be rewarded in points. The

more points you get, the better chance you have in

winning a £50 shopping voucher in our quarterly

draw, it’s as easy as that.

Rest assured this site is for

Ocean tenants and residents

only, this is to ensure that the

site is a safe place for you to

air your views and provide


If you would like to get

involved, please follow

this link to sign up,


or email tenantpartnership

@oceanhousing.com for more


We look forward to hearing from you and watching you start gaining those points!

Keeping Active, Independent and most importantly - safe!

Many people want to continue to

enjoy the independence of living

at home and just need that extra

support. Our Ocean Extra Lifeline

services are available to Ocean

residents as well as private residents

too. One private resident to recently

sign up is Jill, who told us, “I cannot

fault this service. Since having my

Lifeline installed, I feel so much

safer in my own home. Due to my

deteriorating health and mobility,

this gives me peace of mind,

especially when I am pottering in the

garden as one press on the button

and I can ask for help.”

We give reassurance to people and their families that

they are not alone, and that someone is at the end

of the phone should they need them. Lifeline works

anywhere around your home and in the garden. If you

find yourself in distress, you simply

press the button located on the

pendant or bracelet (which ever you

choose), this will immediately connect

to Lifeline’s 24-hour call centre in

Cornwall. The call centre team will

have access to the details and contact

information you provided for your

local doctor, family and friends,

ensuring you get the assistance you

need. This service costs just £3.95 per

week, which includes installation.

If you feel this would benefit you or

a member of your family, neighbour

or friend then please get in touch

by emailing help@oceanhousing.com or call 01726

874450 and speak to a member of the Lifeline team

who will be able to visit your home (social distancing

rules applied) and help. This service is open to both

Ocean and private residents.


Winter 2020 | Issue 66

Funding to enable us to improve your home

Improving the energy performance of your home is one of our key commitments at Ocean. By providing this help

and support we hope to help tenants lower their heating bills and get more for their money.

Even though we have had restricted income in recent years, Ocean has focused investment on improving the

energy efficiency of older homes. This especially includes our ‘Cornish Unit’ properties.

To do this we always welcome external funding. It allows us to install cost-cutting and energy efficient measures,

such as; external wall insulation and new heating systems.

So far, we have and will continue to improve the energy efficiency of:

• 57 Cornish Units and have a further 67 to complete in 2021/22 with the Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

funding worth £500,000.

• 133 new heating systems via the Warm Homes Fund worth £289,000.

• 20 new heating systems via the Green Homes Grant fund worth £100,000 in February/ March 2021.

This work will continue over the next decade, as we raise our standards to meet national targets. It goes hand in

hand with helping tenants to move out of fuel poverty; and feel warmer, happier and healthier in their homes.

After all, we all feel the cold in winter – but, for some people, cold weather can cause serious health problems.

People should not have to choose between eating or heating at any time.

Even though it may be tempting to turn heating off to save money in some circumstances this can end up being

even more costly, as it takes extra energy to reheat your home.

If you would like advice about getting the best out of your heating system, we are here to help! You can call and

speak with one of our Asset Management Team. They can even visit your home to carry out an energy audit –

social distancing rules applied, of course!

Take a look at our website, call 01726 874450 or email help@oceanhousing.com for more information.

Here to Help

Community Energy Plus is a local charity, that delivers local solutions to fuel poverty, energy efficiency and

sustainable energy.

They can help by offering:

• Practical advice on understanding and reducing mould

• Access to cheap energy tariffs through their collective energy

switching initiative

• Free membership to their community oil buying club

• Support for families with children if they have

additional needs

• Referrals to other trusted service providers where appropriate

• Emergency energy key “top ups”

Give them a call on 0800 954 1956 or email advice@cep.org.uk.

Other agencies that could help are:

• Let’s Talk who offer a range of schemes to help those with utility debt. Some of their schemes also offer energy

efficient white goods. Visit www.lets-talk.online

• Turn to Us who help people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other

financial help. Visit www.turn2us.org.uk




Customer Service calls

From April to November

our Customer Service advisors

took just under

27,000 calls

The average wait time was

1 minute

17 seconds

Percentage of calls

answered within

60 seconds this year



target is


We are experiencing lower call

performance as we are unable to

transfer any incoming calls to staff

members who continue to work

from home.

Anti-Social Behaviour

How are we P

We have a number of Service Standar

you as tenants and r

level of service you can expect to rece

these standards, however we realise s

be open and honest when that doesn

are doing well and three areas wh

To find out more about our Servic


If you are not happy with a service an

then please get in touch b

www.oceanhousing.com/complaints o

on 01726


From April to November we

received 77 complaints

compared with 60 from the

same period last year

Due to the pandemic, we have be

provide and been unable to visit ho

acknowledged and we ensure we le


Since April,

78% of tenants

were satisfied with the

outcome of their anti-social

behaviour case.

Due to the lockdown, there

were several months where

our Neighbourhood Service

officers were unable to visit

tenants to discuss and resolve

issues with neighbours.

This area is going to be reviewed

and we look at improving how we

handle your case and what we

can do better.

Our target is


Income Ma

The collection of rent

is vital to ensure we

can operate as a social

landlord and business.

This enables us to provide

services, improve the

condition of your home

and build new properties.


Winter 2020 | Issue 66


ds which set out our commitment to

esidents about the

ive. We try extremely hard to meet

ometimes we do not and we want to

’t happen. Below are three areas we

ere improvements are needed.

e Standards, visit our website at


d think we should be doing better,

y visiting our website at

r call our Customer Service advisors





en restricted with the services we

mes. Every complaint we receive is

arn lessons in order to improve the

to you.


Currently we are owed

£478,014 in rent.

This is 2.22% of our

total rental income.

Our target is to keep

under 2.29%



emergency repairs

were carried out from

March – July


From 23rd March

to 13th July

we were undertaking

emergency repairs only

As of July, we had 1,360

backlog repairs, now all but

41 repairs

have been completed.

Property Compliance

We own and manage over

4200 properties

and the safety of your home is our top

priority. It is essential that we do not

compromise on our property compliance

responsibilities as a landlord. Our records

must hold accurate and up to date

information on every home we let to

you as a tenant. This year we have

carried out the following Health

and Safety Checks to ensure your

home is safe and secure.

Gas Safety Checks

1,887 properties – 100%

Electrical Inspections

4,228 – 100%

Communal Fire & Smoke Alarms


124 – 100%

Property Smoke Alarm


4,125 – 99.9%




Getting to know our Board Members

Hello! I’m Louise Barden and for the past three years I’ve

been a member of the Board of Ocean Housing and the

Audit and Risk Committee. Since I retired nearly four

years ago I’ve found that being a member of the Board is

a good way to keep my brain in gear!

I spend quite a lot of my time caring for my 88-year-old

mum and my grandchildren. I’ve spent most of my life

living near the sea and love keeping fit and spending

time outdoors - especially important right now whilst

we live through lockdowns I think. I love to get out on

the coastal path for a good long walk and chat with my


This year I find I’ve almost forgotten that I really love to

travel - I lived in Australia for a couple of years as a child

and have had the travel bug ever since. A few years ago

my husband and I did a charity bike ride around Vietnam

and Cambodia raising money for the homelessness

charity where I was working at the time. Here I am on the

top of Table Mountain in Cape Town Africa.

Hi, I’m Andie Smith, I’m Chair

of the Ocean Housing Board.

Who could have foreseen

what 2020 would bring?

We are now in the run-up

to Christmas and yet we

are still living our lives in

such strange times. We

have all had to find new

and different ways of doing

things, different ways of

keeping in touch with one

another and different ways

of coping with day to day

life in this Covid world.

Back in March when I was

feeling sad that I couldn’t

visit my elderly mother

who lives in North Wales, I

decided I had to find some positivity in

lockdown. So I volunteered in my local village,

to deliver supplies from our local shop and

medication from our local surgery to vulnerable

members of our community. It was really uplifting

to be part of what became

quite a large group of

volunteers and to see what

a massive difference it

made to those who were

otherwise confined to their

four walls

There have been many

articles in the press in the

last few months about the

health benefits of outdoor

swimming so I decided to

give it a go. So far, I have

been sea swimming at

least once a week since

September. I admit that I

have recently succumbed

to wearing a wetsuit but

I’m now aiming to keep

going until the New Year.

So, whilst 2020 has hardly been a bed of roses, it’s

not been all bad either and although I still can’t visit

my Mum, she’s doing fine too. Hopefully 2021 is a

better year for us all.


Winter 2020 | Issue 66

Our Hardship Fund is here to help you during the Pandemic

Earlier this year we created a fund to help

tenants, residents, charities and community

groups that have been affected by the

coronavirus pandemic. We have been able to

provide financial support to those who have

lost their jobs, are struggling to meet living

costs such as bills, food and rent, and we are

aware that in these winter months it is getting

even harder.

The Hardship Fund had £50,000 available and

so far we have received nearly 50 applications

which has enabled us to help a number of

individuals as well as community groups and

charities. We have awarded amounts ranging

from £33 up to £6,000. The fund has helped local

foodbanks, drop in centres as well as supporting

counselling and domestic violence services.

Individuals have applied for help towards utility bills,

white goods, school uniforms, sensory toys, floor

coverings and home furnishings.

Frances Turner, managing director, said, “At this time

of crisis, we wanted to ensure help is available for

people in our communities in order to stay safe, well

and fed.”

The fund has been set up for a 12 month period so

Rent FREE Weeks Explained!

if you need a helping hand and would like to apply,

please complete the application at


or email help@oceanhousing.com with the subject

Hardship Fund application and a member of the

Welfare Advice team will be in touch. If you would

rather speak to a member of the team over the

phone, please call 01726 874450.

Please appreciate that each case will be dealt with on

its own merit and we would ask for your patience as

the team will be applying a great deal of assessment

to each application.

Are you aware you receive four rent free weeks per year? The next rent free weeks are 21 December 2020, 28

December 2020. The way we work it out is that your rent is charged over 48 weeks of the year. The remaining

weeks of the year are known as ‘rent free’ weeks. The rent free weeks fall in the last two weeks of March and the

last two weeks of December. If your account is in arrears, you should continue to make payments during the rent

free weeks. You must also continue with court payments for costs or arrears during these rent free weeks. It is

important you make payments in advance of the due date as they can

take up to five days to reach your account.

Payments must be made in advance of the due date as they can take

up to five days to reach your account.

Are rent free weeks included in my monthly payment?

If you are a monthly payer, you must continue to pay your normal

monthly instalment as the “rent free weeks” are already taken into

account when we calculate your monthly instalments. As some

months have more than four weeks, you simply pay 12 equal monthly

instalments of four weeks’ rent throughout the year, totalling 48 weeks.

You may pay more than four weeks each month if you are paying

extra to clear rent arrears or other outstanding costs.




We know this is a difficult time

for so many people. If you're

worried about not being able

to make ends meet because

of COVID-19, we can help.

We can support you to claim

any benefits you’re entitled

to during this time if you are

unable to work or not getting

paid. Customer Accounts

Manager, Loraine explained,

“It’s very important if tenants

and residents find themselves

getting into difficulties that they

get in touch with us as soon

as possible, to ensure we are

able to give them the support

they need. If they’re already

in receipt of benefits these

will continue, and if they’re

receiving Universal Credit

and this includes an amount for housing costs, it’s

important that they use this to continue to pay their

rent as normal.”

We are here to help and it’s really important that you

Customer Accounts are Here to Help!

Loraine – Customer Accounts Manager.

keep us informed and upto-date

with any changes,

so we can support you. We

understand that everyone’s

situation is different. If you’ve

been working, things may

have changed - because of

COVID-19, your income may

now be reduced, and we

understand the difficulties

and worry this may cause to

you and your family. We can

offer debt advice and benefit

calculations over the phone

and have specialist welfare

advisors here to help.

If you haven’t already signed

up to My Ocean, please do so

as you will be able to access

your rent account securely

online at any time at www.oceanhousing.com or

download our Ocean app via Google play or the

App store. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and

Instagram to see up to date information regarding

universal credit and other benefits.

It’s been such a strange year and you

would be forgiven for wanting some

‘normality’ around the Christmas 2020

period. With certain restrictions still

in place it’s tempting to spend extra

money on food and presents to make

up for the uncertainty.

Westcountry Savings and Loans,

a local credit union, has some tips

to help you have a nice but careful


Make 2020 a careful Christmas

• Only buy the food you need – don’t get tempted to buy loads

especially if you can’t freeze what doesn’t get eaten.

• Limit the amount you spend on presents and buy for close family

only. It’s going to be hard to see people this Christmas and many

will just appreciate you contacting them to say hello.

• Start saving for next Christmas! Even if you can put a few pounds

away a week then it will all help next year.

• Finally, if you need to borrow, then avoid doorstep and online

lenders who charge high interest, especially avoid illegal lenders

such a loan sharks.

You can contact Westcountry Savings and Loans (offering safe savings

accounts and affordable loans) at www.westcountry.org.uk

or on 03300 563994 and there are lots more money tips at


If you would prefer to contact us to discuss your concerns, please email

help@oceanhousing.com to speak to a Customer Service Advisor on 01726 874450


Winter 2020 | Issue 66

What Have You Been up to in Lockdown?

Suzie's Creative Crochet

Ron’s Lockdown Hobby

Meet Suzie, who during the first lockdown taught

herself how to crochet. Living in emergency

accommodation with two teenage children wasn’t

easy and Suzie started to struggle with her mental

health. Her crochet kept her mind occupied and

at the end of August she was lucky enough to be

permanently housed in Nanpean. With a new home

and hobby, Suzie is much more settled and happy,

as are her children. Suzie has even

started selling her work to friends and

family and is looking to teach people

how to crochet in the New Year.

Meet Ron, since his late wife Sylvia passed away, the

86 year-old has been doing his bit helping out as an

Ocean Ambassador, monitoring his local estate and

also raising money as a member of RAFA St Mawgan.

However, when he had to self-isolate, he was inspired

by his late wife’s creativity. He told us, “My wife Sylvia

was a talented florist and taught me about using

silk flowers. I decided to use self-isolation to create

some decorative bottle lights, from recycled glass

and plastic bottles, as gifts for family and friends.

The plastic lights are made from the top third of

water bottles. Making them has been excellent

occupational therapy for me during lockdown and

has helped me with Christmas presents this year.”

Community Volunteering

Since September, Yvonne from St Austell has been helping out at

Gover Community Larder. This voluntary organisation was set up

to assist the community due to the pandemic. It offers fresh and

frozen food to help individuals and families who need help in the

local area. Yvonne told us,

“I love meeting the families especially the little ones who give me a

big smile each week. I’m enjoying helping out and it has given me a

chance to meet people and interact as the last few months have been

tough especially for those living on their own.”





Can You Help Us Find Our Presents?

Our naughty elves have been busy hiding presents throughout this edition,

can you help us find them hidden in this newsletter?

The first three correct entries drawn will win:

1st Prize - £60 Shopping Voucher

2nd Prize - £40 Shopping voucher

3rd Prize - £20 Shopping Voucher

The competition is open to anyone

living in our properties. Only one entry per


Closing date is Friday 29th January 2021

Good Luck!

Here’s to

Please let us know what you’re most grateful for in 2020 and what you are most looking forward to in 2021?? Please fill

in below. We will choose some of our favourites to feature in the next issue of Street Talk and on our website and social

media. We’ll only share first name and towns for these quotes.

What are you most grateful for in 2020?

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

You don’t need a stamp, just cut out this page and pop it into an envelope addressed to:


Christmas Present Competition, Ocean Housing, Stennack Road, St Austell, PL25 3SW.

How many presents have you spotted - (not including the 2 on this page)



Telephone No:

Email address:

Mobile No:


Please recycle your Street Talk. Printed on Re-cycled paper. Designed & produced by Karen Jackson Design 01326 373108 Photography by Frame by Frame 01503 262684.

email: help@oceanhousing.com


01726 874450

Out of Hours Numbers

Emergency Repairs: 01726 874450

Anti-Social Behaviour: 01726 874450

Contact us for a Large Print or Audio CD of this newsletter

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