InTouch. Rent-Free week. Universal Credit is coming to Plymouth. Inside this issue. Page 15. Page Issue 25 Winter 2015

make it happen InTouch Issue 25 Winter 2015 Universal Credit is coming to Plymouth Page 15 Rent-Free week Page 3 Inside this issue Absolutely noth...
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make it happen

InTouch Issue 25 Winter 2015

Universal Credit is coming to Plymouth Page 15

Rent-Free week Page 3

Inside this issue Absolutely nothing is wasted Page 17

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Combatting tenancy fraud Page 14

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Privacy notice Page 7

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Welcome to new board member Page 5

Hello In Touch

Call us on 0800 694 3101

llow e P e n i Ela f the Board

Hello!

Chair o

Welcome to the latest edition of In Touch. It was great news to hear that we were named one of Inside Housing magazine’s Top 60 developments in the UK – that’s all thanks to the success of our North Prospect regeneration scheme. Well done to all those staff who played their part. It’s a great achievement. We’re doing great things in North Prospect but you can also read about other developments in the pipeline across the city in this issue, including our plans for the former Southway Campus site and our proposals for a Passivhaus development, which will be highly energy efficent. We’ve got updates for you on Universal Credit, what we do with our waste and what’s happening with our Money Tree Fund.

You’ve been busy putting pen to paper – and fingers to keyboard. We’ve had lots of feedback from you about trees, pets and plenty more. It’s always great to hear from tenants about issues that matter so please keep in contact with us whether it’s through good old-fashioned writing, email or social media. All that remains is for me to wish you a happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

Elaine Pellow Chair of the Board

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Inside 5 Welcome new board member 7 Privacy notice 8 Development update

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11 Don’t forget insurance

16 Re-use Centre

12 A day in the life...

17 Absolutely nothing is wasted

15 Universal Credit

19 #OurPCH



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InTouch

Meet our new Chief Executive I like to watch and play most sports, particularly football, golf and tennis and I’m a huge Boro (Middlesbrough) fan. I also love being by the sea and spend most weekends at one coastal resort or another, so moving to Devon will make that easier.

Our current Chief Executive Clive Turner is retiring in February. We’ve appointed John Clark, currently the Director of Housing for the London Borough of Greenwich, to take over the role. Here, he introduces himself… I’m originally from Middlesbrough and lived and worked there until I was 40, subsequently working in Sheffield, Leeds and then Greenwich in London.

I love the work I do - regeneration and housing is a really rewarding profession and when done well can make a really positive difference in people’s lives. It’s more important than ever that housing providers, local authorities and central Government support the most vulnerable in society People who know me would say and look at new ways to provide that my standard saying is: ‘If you ‘genuinely affordable’ housing. I saw do the right things you’ll get the the same passion I have when I right outcomes.’ People so often get met the Board and staff at PCH and obsessed with chasing the output and believe we have an important role forgetting the outcome. I remember in the city, providing better housing when I worked for the Jobcentre and opportunities for our residents being criticised for getting too many and helping the city provide more people a job and not filling restart opportunities for all. courses and Job Clubs, a prime example of forgetting your purpose! The organisation has done some great things under the leadership of I remember watching ‘It’s a Wonderful the Board and the outgoing Chief Life’ as a child and that movie, and Executive, Clive Turner. I’m thrilled my mum, inspired me to work in about the move to PCH and can’t wait regeneration and housing. It’s a story to get started. of how doing the right things in life can touch the lives of others and brings its own rewards. The movie may be a bit cheesy but I’m sure we’d all rather live in Bedford Falls than Pottersville given the choice!

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Rent-free week There’s a ‘rent-free’ week starting Monday 28 December if you pay your rent weekly. If you have any arrears, a court order or any other arrangement in place to clear arrears, you’ll still be expected to make a payment during the ‘rent-free’ week. For those of you paying by Direct Debit, your payments are spread equally across 12 months.

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In Touch

Residents support the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning Residents at our Housing with Support schemes raised more than £1500 for Macmillan Cancer Support when they took part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. Each scheme set up their own event, with residents donating cakes and using the fundraiser as a chance to get together. Activities included raffles, quizzes, table top sales and a competition to guess the number of sweets in a jar and the number of pickled onions in a jar. Resident Jan Stalker arranged the Innes House event and said: “I sent off for a fundraising pack last year and wanted to raise more money this year. It’s for a good cause.” Heather Howlett, a Leypark Court resident, said: “All the tenants here really enjoyed the event and we were happy raising money for a fantastic charity.” Charlotte Schraibman, PCH’s Housing with Support Manager, said: “The tenants worked incredibly hard to organise these events – it was like Plymouth’s very own Great British Bake Off!”

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Money Tree Fund update Our Money Tree Fund is nearly complete for this year – and what a year it’s been. Some of the great work carried out this year includes new door entry systems in Castle Street, a children’s

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playground at Lipstone Crescent, hearing aid loops at our Housing with Support blocks and an eye-catching giant mural in Union Street. Liz Phillips, Head of Projects, Performance and Policy, said: “The

2015/16 Money Tree Fund is now allocated so isn’t open for any new bids. “The fund for 2016/17 will be around £100,000 in total and we’re reviewing how we make best use of this.”

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Welcome new board member Graham Clayton was announced as an Independent Board member at September’s AGM. With Alan Clifford stepping down, the Board were specifically looking to recruit a member with strong finance and accountancy skills. Graham is a qualified chartered accountant and has taught accountancy and finance since 1980. He lectured at Plymouth University, retiring in July of this year. Graham believes that social housing has a vital role to play and welcomes the opportunity to be a part of the management of social housing provision in Plymouth. Are you interested in joining the Resident Scrutiny Team?

services and making recommendations for improvement. This may mean looking at service standards, policies and procedures, interviewing tenants and staff and visiting areas where the service is provided or even other service providers to see what they are doing differently. The role includes attending meetings, reading documents, reviewing performance information and considering how improvements might be made where standards fall below the expected levels. If you are interested and want to know more about the team, please contact Leanne Eastwood on 388364 or email: [email protected] plymouthcommunityhomes.co.uk.

Scrutiny involves undertaking reviews of how well we deliver different

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Electrical inspections – have you had a letter from us? We’re carrying out essential inspections to the electrical facilities within our homes over the next five years. Our operatives will be replacing smoke detectors and installing carbon monoxide alarms as well as doing other important safety checks in your home. We’re aiming to visit 3,000 homes a year and will be writing to you to let you know when we’ve booked an appointment, two weeks in advance. It’s important you let us into your home – these tests are not just

important for you and your family’s safety, they are also a legal requirement. As well as sending you a letter, we’ll also follow up with a text message and phone call the day before to remind you. Roger Hewitt, Electrical Manager, said: “This electrical test will not incur any additional charges for tenants.The process will be similar to the annual gas service but the electrical test will be every five years with the aim to ensure your home is electrically safe.”

“If you get a letter from us, please don’t ignore it. If you can’t make the appointment, please contact us and we’ll happily rearrange it. We just want to make sure tenants are safe in their homes.” We’ll be visiting homes in the Whitleigh area in the run up to Christmas so keep an eye out for your letter if you haven’t yet received it.

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Creating a community hub

A couple have improved their local convenience store by making it a real community hub.

all of the previous owners. When the last owner left, we thought no one else would open it up again. We wanted to make it a community place Margaret and Pete Rode have turned – we might have been stupid, but around the fortunes of Norwich Stores we’re still here!” in Norwich Avenue, Whitleigh. It’s now somewhere the whole community, Our Window Factory made and from young children to elderly replaced the shop front including the residents, is happy to visit. windows, and Margaret and Pete got local children involved in planting The couple first took on the shop flowers in the large planters outside around four years ago, after the the shop and on the bank outside. previous owner left. Margaret also puts together small 10p Margaret said: “We took it on as we bags of sweets so local children can were retired and bored! We’ve lived in always afford something with their the road for 41 years and have seen pocket money.

Margaret said the help they’ve had from the PCH Commercial Lets Team has been invaluable. She said: “Frank Corbridge, the Commercial Premises Manager, is brilliant. I thought we were going to lose the shop, we went into arrears and it’s been a nightmare. We came to an agreement and paid the money back. Frank was the one who gave us a chance – if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here. “I do sometimes wonder if it’s worth it, but what would I do instead? I take it day by day – I love this little shop.”

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Don’t let bogus callers ruin your Christmas In recent months we’ve had reports of In all cases, the callers could not cold callers trying to get into people’s provide identification and were not let in. homes across the city by claiming to work for PCH. Please remember: All PCH staff will carry an ID badge with them and The fraudsters say they need to check on the gas, boilers and / or loft will be happy to show it to you before accessing any property. insulation.

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Please make sure you ask for ID. If you have any doubts about a caller claiming to be from PCH, please call us on 0800 694 3101.

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Privacy notice We’ve updated the Data Protection and Privacy/Legal sections of our website with a more comprehensive privacy notice. It’s really important to protect our customers’ privacy and comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, so this new notice tells you what personal

information we collect, what we use it for, who we pass it on to and how they use it. It also explains how you can access the personal information we hold about you through a Subject Access Request. You can read our privacy notice here:

plymouthcommunityhomes.co.uk/ privacy-notice/ A paper copy of the revised notice is also available at our city centre shop in Frankfort Gate and our headquarters at Plumer House.

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21 years of Estate Management Board

We joined in the celebrations of Pembroke Estate Management Board’s 21st anniversary. The tenant-managed housing company transferred to PCH along with the rest of the council-owned housing stock five years ago, but while we look after the rent collection and major repairs, PEMB look after the day-to-day running of the estate. The work PEMB have done since 1994 helped pave the way for the Devonport regeneration work and turned around what was once one of

of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country.

has his original rent book from when he first moved into Pembroke Street in 1955.

To mark the anniversary, a special lunch was held with residents past and present plus people who helped set up and run the Board over the past 21 years.

The evening entertainment included live music, a Punch and Judy show, a magician and a bouncy castle.

PCH Head of Neighbourhoods, Steve Ford, was a Rent Collection Officer on the estate years ago, and was invited to raise the toast. The commemorative cake was cut by resident Bill Bannister, 97, who still

PEMB Manager Christine Watts said: “It was an amazing occasion. I’m so glad we decided to hold the event, bringing together some of the many people who have helped contribute to making the EMB a success over the past 21 years.”

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In Touch

Development update “At Goodwin Crescent we have a slightly different approach. We will replace six three-bedroom houses with eight two-bed houses. This will help to improve the range of houses in this part of North Prospect. “All three of these schemes are set to complete in 2017 and between them represent an investment of over £2.4 million.” Southway Campus We’ve made a planning application for our scheme at Southway Campus in Skerries Road.

Inside Housing Our work in North Prospect has been named the Regeneration Scheme of the Year at the Inside Housing Top 60 Awards. The judges were looking for innovative and inspiring developments that met the needs of residents and the housing market. Tracey Wheaton, our Sales and Marketing Manager, said: “It’s fantastic that the project has been recognised at this level and that the hard work of our team is having such a positive impact. “The judges made it clear that it was our impact on the community that helped to make North Prospect a winner.” Passivhaus In September we held a community consultation event at Porkies Café on Whitleigh Green to get feedback on our plans to build a £10.6m housing scheme on the former Woodlands Hillside School Site.

and air tightness. The homes will have lower heating bills with a mechanical ventilation system providing fresh air without needing to open windows. This scheme will be one of the largest in the South West. The scheme will be a mix of flats and houses for rent and shared ownership. We hope to get planning permission early next year and start work in March, with completion due in January 2018. Three other sites We have secured planning permission for three schemes that we told you about in the last issue – Wren Gardens in Plympton and Allenby Road and Goodwin Crescent in North Prospect. At Wren Gardens we’ll demolish two empty houses that are affected by subsidence and replace them with a pair of three-bedroom homes that are fully wheelchair adapted.

James Savage, PCH Programme Manager, said: “At Allenby Road we’ll demolish four steel-framed Dorlonco houses and replace them We plan to build 72 homes that meet with four new three-bed houses. Two the Passivhaus Standard. This means of the new houses will be built as having special energy-saving qualities wheelchair adapted homes. such as high standards of insulation

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The site covers 1.8 hectares and is set to become a mix of two, three and four-bed homes on brownfield land purchased from Plymouth City Council. The £9.9m scheme will include 12 flats, 55 houses, 42 homes for rent and 25 shared ownership homes for sale. We’re hoping to get planning permission early in the new year and begin work soon after. We hope the scheme will be finished by November 2017. Laurel Road We’ve been working with Coyde Construction to build three new homes in Laurel Road. The site was home to two steel-framed houses in a state of disrepair. Due to their non-standard construction, it was decided the best option would be to demolish them and rebuild. We received a £114,000 Homes and Communities Agency grant to build the new homes, which have solar panels and water butts, making them energy efficient. They also come with sheds. The car parks in nearby Laurel Dene have also been resurfaced.

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Laying the foundations for a successful future

Dozens of people have been taking their first steps to a new career thanks to one of the biggest regeneration projects in the South West. Our contractor on Phase 3 of the North Prospect regeneration project, Kier Living, has launched a skills academy for those interested in a career in construction – or those looking to return to it after some time away. Participants will be given six weeks of theory and training from Cornwall College lecturers on site when work begins in the New Year. After their training has finished, they will have the opportunity to apply for any suitable jobs with Kier Living or their contractors. More than 40 people have so far signed up for the academy following an open day at the Beacon community hub in September. People also registered their interest in other opportunities, for example our Learn for Free training programme for residents and other courses run by Cornwall College. Sarah Walkup, Kier Living

Development Manager, said: “Trainees will learn the theory but will also get the chance to do practical work and may even get to help out with the project on site. This also means the project isn’t delayed and it helps with the skills shortage.” The would-be trainees have already taken the first steps in their training. During the autumn, they’ve been getting their CSCS cards, which are necessary for working on a building site. One learner, Matthew Evans, who is a PCH North Prospect tenant, said: “I’ve not worked since moving to Plymouth in 2009 and I’m trying to get back into work. “This course will help. It’s helping to refresh my memory of all the things I did at school. “I’m hoping to go on to the skills academy and get a taste of different types of jobs on offer.” Matthew and his fellow students will be able to progress on to the Kier course in the new year once they get their card. Kier Living has run similar academies

More than 40 people have so far signed up for the academy following an open day at the Beacon community hub in September

in the South West and has so far had a 90 per cent success rate with participants finding work. North Prospect resident Ryan Burdett, 18, who recently left school, had a go at a bricklaying demo set up outside The Beacon during the open day. He said: “It seems interesting. The trainer made it look easy but it kept falling apart when I tried! It would be good to work in the local area.” Roxanne Cooke, 27, who also tried it, added: “I’d like to get my CSCS card. It would be great to learn how to build a wall.” If you’d like to find out more about training opportunities with PCH, turn to our Learn for Free pull-out supplement in the middle pages.

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In Touch

‘Why is applying for a job so complicated?’ That’s a question Richard Lunn heard at one of the work clubs he regularly attends. Richard, one of our Communities Workers, attends the clubs we support at various city libraries alongside the library service and Learn Direct. Thanks to the support Richard and his colleagues offer, he’s helping to make the whole process a lot less complicated. Richard says the Work Clubs are a great place to go if you’re looking for a new job – whether you’re in or out of work. Dozens of people get support to write their CVs and covering letters and apply for jobs. Richard said: “It’s a really informal setting. Whatever people want support in, we provide it. “We can help with CV writing, computer skills, writing covering letters, general job searches and filling in application forms. “It’s a structured place for people to seek employment. We also get people in full-time employment coming along. “One woman came in and was petrified. We spent two hours talking to her about CV templates. I don’t think we’ve seen her since but that’s all she needed. “Sometimes people just come in for assurance. It can be a daunting situation finding yourself out of work, especially if you’ve been in work for a long time. “We have had lots of highly-qualified people coming in. We had a Polish

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woman come into Efford Library. She had a Masters in microbiology and was working over here in hospitality. She blew me out of the water. I was telling her how to write a CV! It really doesn’t matter who you are. “There was another woman in St Budeaux who was highly-qualified but had to care for a family member full-time. She had to give up work. The family member passed away and she was back to square one. It was difficult to go back to her job at the same level. I gave her general advice and direction.” One person to benefit from the work club is Janine Hill, who has worked at PCH as a part-time housing assistant in the North Prospect team since June. She said: “I was working in a solicitor’s for two days a week but I wanted to increase my hours to three days. I went along to the West Park work club purely because I had not

applied for a job for a long time – I’d been in my post since 2006. I knew that my CV needed updating. “I spoke to people from PCH, Working Links and the library service. They all helped with rewording my CV and I got a memory stick to save anything on to. They also helped with my covering letter. “A friend of mine works at PCH and mentioned the vacancy as she knew I was looking for work. “The job club was good because not only did I get help with writing and re-writing my CV and covering letters, I heard about things from other people. It’s a good place to get word-of-mouth information and they also handed out useful web addresses.” For more information about work clubs call Richard on 01752 389760.

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Learn for Free Winter 2015

For more information or to book a training place please call 01752 388361 or 01752 388215

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Learn for Free

Learn for Free is a training programme for our tenants. Please call 01752 388361 or 388215 for a booking form. Training topics for Winter 2015/16 FREE courses to all PCH residents Mental Health First Aid

A three-hour awarded MHFA course about mental health awareness and how to define certain mental health conditions. Includes a free mental health manual

Budgeting Skills

Learn how to make the most of your money. This course is especially useful for those who will be affected by Universal Credit in 2016

Stress Management

A two-day workshop that provides an understanding of the physical effects of stress and explores simple techniques to manage its impact

The following three courses are free if you are receiving benefits

Please note that you will be asked for proof of receiving benefits and ID for these courses

Improve Your Employment Skills

This is a four-day in-depth course that covers CV writing, covering letters, interview techniques and confidence building. This course also opens the door to other free courses

CSCS Construction Training and Work Placement

PCH, Work Skills Training Academy Cornwall College and Kier Living are offering a short construction training course which includes a Green CSCS test and card, followed by an on-site six-week construction work experience training offer. Free to those on unemployment benefits.

Motivation and Confidence Building course for those over 50 years old

Includes six, three-hour sessions led by trained and experienced injured military veterans. The course will look at increasing confidence, team working and promoting positive health and wellbeing

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Learn for Free

Make it easier to keep in touch with friends and family, do your shopping and save money on your household bills with some help from our IT training programmes. The Government’s Digital by Default policy means that more people will be expected to go online to access services and benefits that they may be entitled to. There are plenty of benefits to getting online and learning more about the internet. These can include keeping in touch with family or friends, shopping and banking online, saving money on bills or applying for jobs. If you’re not sure where to start we have plenty of opportunities for you to learn. Whatever your skill level, we can help.

PCH Computer Club Are you looking for a different way to learn about computers and tablets? Have you heard of our FREE drop-in Computer Club at our Plumer House office? The PCH Computer Club runs from 1pm until 4pm, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can work at your own pace in these friendly sessions, with a tutor on hand to help when you need it. We have desktop computers, laptops and tablets for you to use at each session, or bring your own tablet or laptop and use our free Wi-Fi.

PCH Drop In sessions We also run different ‘digital drop in’ sessions in different locations such as our shop in Frankfort Gate. Call 0800 917 9457 for more details and times.

Free Courses with PCH and other providers in Plymouth We provide an ongoing range of courses for beginners and improvers. There are also many opportunities available in Plymouth with other reputable providers.

WIN A TABLET!

For more information call us on 0800 917 9457 or 01752 388215 or email [email protected] plymouthcommunityhomes.co.uk. We will also send you regular updates with the latest information on courses and opportunities in the Plymouth area, including places where you can use a computer for FREE.

We will enter you into a draw to win this tablet when you subscribe for email updates at plymouthcommunityhomes.co.uk You’ve got until 17 January. Good luck! *t&c’s apply

Gardening on a Budget FREE Training course Startson onTuesday Tuesday23rd 23 February Starts February2016 2016 10am–- 1pm, once 10am once aa week week for for 55weeks weeks Beacon, Prospect Road, At At theThe Beacon, 163North North Prospect Road, North Prospect, Prospect, PL2 North PL2 2LL 2LL Learn the basics of gardening Grow fresh healthy food in small spaces Make your own growing space productive Garden with nature in mind Share tips on how to save money Friendly and informal sessions with tutor Tess Wilmot showing you how you can develop a productive and attractive growing space on your allotment, garden, courtyard or even your windowsill. No previous experience is necessary. Tools and equipment provided. For more information call Jo Maddick on 01752 388263

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Don’t forget to add insurance to your Christmas shopping list If you’ve got contents insurance, at least you’ve got peace of mind that you might be able to replace them. At this time of the year, insurance is probably the last thing on our minds – there are so many things to think about as Christmas approaches. But did you know that for as little as 84p a week, you could buy our standard cover insurance which insures you for up to £9,000.

This is the time of year when we’ve all got expensive toys and gadgets in our home, waiting to be given to loved ones on Christmas Day. There are lots of ways to pay and it covers you for furniture, TV, clothing It would be terrible if your belongings carpets, electrical items and general were stolen before you had a chance household goods. to exchange gifts with your family.

What’s more, anyone who buys our insurance by Friday 18 December will be entered into a prize draw for £50 of Love2Shop vouchers. We’ll be making the draw and giving out the vouchers before Christmas – so they’re perfect for last-minute shopping. To buy your insurance ring Jean on 388333 or Charlie on 388336.

It costs from just 84p a week to insure your belongings – less than the price of the average loaf*

Buy contents insurance through us by 18 December and we’ll enter you into a draw to win £50 of Love2Shop vouchers.

Call 01752 388333 or 388336 to find out more * According to ONS data June 2015

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A day in the life... Emma Pearce, Housing with support

In the last in our series of features looking at the work carried out by PCH staff, Communications Officer Joanne Cochrane spent some time with Housing with Support Officer Emma Pearce… As a Housing with Support Officer – previously called Sheltered Housing Officers – Emma says her role is to ‘enable and facilitate’ residents to live independently and provide support where needed. She said: “Housing with Support has changed since the days of the old-style warden when they did more practical tasks for tenants – like their shopping and collecting medication. That’s the job of home carers now. We’re more enablers.

equipment too. This saves a lot of time as we do not have to make a referral for an occupational therapist assessment. “Housing with Support Officers work in clusters – three of us work at four different schemes on a four-month rotation and we try to meet up twice a week. Lone working is part of the role which can be challenging, but we support each other.

“Another difficult part of the job is when a tenant chooses not to engage “We liaise with families and outside with services that would be beneficial agencies to coordinate support for our to their health and wellbeing. tenants where needed. We help them However, our service promotes to find out what they are entitled to in independence and choice.” terms of benefits and maximising income. Some people struggle to Helping to organise social events is report repairs so we can support with definitely one of the more enjoyable this. aspects of Emma’s job. While Emma and her colleagues recently “We can help with correspondence, supported residents who held the provide support to write letters, Macmillan coffee mornings, they make telephone calls or help them to didn’t take over. Enabling residents change energy suppliers, for to be active in their scheme, and in example. We can provide aids and scheme meetings and groups, is an

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important part of the role. Emma is currently based at Camels Head in Weston Mill and the other three schemes in her cluster are Belmont Court, Ron King House and Plympton so she gets to work at all of these over the course of a year. “It’s good that we move around,” she added, “I think I’d get bored if I stayed in one place. There are different tenants and different issues. It’s a good feeling when you see people get the help they need.” One big advantage of officers moving round in this way is that residents get to know a lot of staff – and staff get to know residents and schemes. Emma has previously worked as a scheme manager at DCH and before that as an Information and Advice Adviser at Age UK. She was attracted to Housing with Support as she liked the idea of working with older people and empowering them to live independently. She said: “You need to be quite

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well organised, flexible and proactive to do this job as well as work under pressure and deal with difficult situations. “There’s no such thing as a typical day but the first thing I always do is check if there have been any messages left from Appello on the 24-hour careline which all tenants have access to. We also get reports emailed too. I’ll check emails and deal with them. “It’s usually around 9.30am when I begin the welfare visits. The visits are based on support needs. The tenants have a contact agreement that they arrange with us when they first move in, which says how often we will visit or call. “We have to write support plans for tenants to identify needs. These have to be updated every six months to capture any changes. We also do health and safety checks in the tenants’ property. We test the pullcords, pendant and smoke alarms when we do the support plan reviews. “We are responsible for the health and safety of the schemes. We test

In Touch

the fire alarm weekly and do weekly flushing of water outlets. We do health and safety walkabouts monthly and encourage tenants to join us on these. “We keep daily records for each tenant and ensure these are updated regularly. We try to keep all tenants informed about what’s happening on the scheme as many are housebound and unable to attend tenants’ meetings so I write newsletters.” I accompany Emma on her first home visit of the morning. She goes to see long-standing Camels Head resident Joan Stuckey. Joan is full of praise for the work Emma and her colleagues do. She said: “The service has changed a lot but they do a good job.” While I was with Emma, she had her first piece of good news of the day. Emma and her colleagues have to show prospective tenants around empty homes and then complete a pre-tenancy assessment to ensure that someone is suitable for Housing with Support.

Our service promotes independence and choice

Before she started her visits, Emma called a prospective tenant to tell him he had successfully been allocated a home in one of our schemes. “He was very happy,” she said, “That’s a part of my job I like. He originally tried to get another flat in the same scheme and didn’t and then this one came up. He was actually second on the list but the other applicant turned it down. Now it’s gone to him so it’s all worked out really well. It was obviously meant to be.”

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Combatting tenancy fraud Adam Stockman, Senior Housing Officer, said: “This is good news for all of those people in need of a home throughout Plymouth. “Someone without a housing need was living in this home. We’ve now been able to put this home back into the social housing pot for someone who really needs it. We’ve successfully recovered one of our homes from a tenant who was illegally sub-letting it. The former tenant was collecting rent from a home in St Budeaux while living with someone in another of our properties and claiming housing benefit. The matter was reported to us by a neighbour and we began an investigation.

Plymouth City Council has a dedicated team to investigate tenancy fraud and will take action to regain properties for us and other social landlords where they find evidence of fraud. Tenancy fraud can also be committed against the social housing register, Devon Home Choice, for example, if someone is found supplying false information to gain a home.

“If you think someone might be committing fraud, please contact us or the council and we will investigate.” Investigations so far have led to multiple properties being recovered Tenancy fraud in social housing is across Devon and three individuals a criminal offence and costs local have been prosecuted successfully. authorities and the taxpayer millions of pounds each year. To report tenancy fraud, call us on 0800 694 3101 or contact Across Plymouth the abuse of social Plymouth City Council by emailing housing is using up valuable homes [email protected] and depriving families and individuals or calling 01752 304450. with a genuine need who are playing by the rules.

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Tributes to involved resident Tributes have been paid to a community-minded PCH resident who has died after a long battle with cancer.

“They were involved with different community groups and even featured on the front cover of one of our adaptations leaflets.

Derek Wheatley, who lived in Belliver and was married to Edna, regularly sat on groups aimed at improving services for residents.

“I know Derek was a big lover of woodturning and if he heard we were cutting down a tree, he would ask for the wood for his shed!”

Derek, who served in the Navy as well as the forensics division of Devon and Cornwall Police, had five children and three step children.

Helen Ryan, Head of Communities, said: “Derek made a valuable contribution to the development of PCH before transfer and continued to be involved, most recently as a scrutiny member.

Tim Phillips, Senior Housing Officer, said: “I got to know Derek and Edna when Edna was a warden at a sheltered housing scheme in the Beacon Park area.

“He was generous, unfailingly polite, kind and thoughtful.

“He’ll be sadly missed by everyone at “When Edna got to retirement age PCH who knew him. Our thoughts are and they had to leave their with his family.” accommodation, they became tenants of ours.

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In Touch

Universal Credit is coming to Plymouth Universal Credit will be introduced in Plymouth from 25 January.

We’re continuing to work closely with tenants who’ll be affected by these changes.

It will start with new claims from single claimants only and will replace the Nicky Kingston, Head of Income following six benefits: Recovery and Financial Inclusion, said: “We have now visited or tried • Job Seekers Allowance to visit all of our single people under • Employment and Support Allowance pension age to try and help them • Income Support prepare for the change. • Child Tax Credit • Working Tax Credit “Some have already set up Direct • Housing Benefit Debits. If you missed us and are unsure how it will affect you, it’s not The changes mean you’ll need a bank too late to get help. Give us a call on account for the benefit to be paid into 0800 028 0350.” and instead of filling out paper forms you’ll have to apply online. Universal Credit will gradually be extended to couples with no children Universal Credit will be paid once a and then families. month in arrears. The Benefits Cap You’ll also need to pay your full rent out of your Universal Credit payment. Although the Benefit Cap has been in

place for a couple of years now, this is being reduced again so the total amounts of benefits (including Housing Benefit) you can get are: • Working age (couples and lone parent households) will be reduced from £26,000 to £20,000. • Working age (single adults) will be reduced from £18,204 to £13,400. We don’t have a date when the reduction will start but it will be phased in from next April and will affect a number of our tenants. We’re contacting people who we think may be affected to see how we can help minimise the impact. If you are worried as we haven’t got round to you yet, give us a call on 0800 028 0350.

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Gym project proves a knockout with youngsters A project we supported to help bored youths stay on the right side of the law has proved a resounding success.

widened to include Barne Barton and participants visit Honicknowle Youth Centre to meet people from different neighbourhoods.

We were one of the sponsors of the Justice Gym, which allowed youths at risk of offending the chance to work out their frustrations in a community gym, The Ford Gym Youth and Community Centre in Wolseley Close, North Prospect.

In June, the gym introduced two additional free ‘drop in’ sessions for those who attended regularly and showed commitment, allowing them to mix with other gym users.

Personal trainers set challenging targets for the youths, who on average attended two sessions a week since the launch in March. The target area for the project was North Prospect and surrounding areas but since it started it has been

Housing Officer Marissa Maloney has referred two families since April. She said: “Many parents don’t have the money to send their kids to a gym. Since we’ve been using it, I think there’s been a reduction in anti-social behaviour in the North Prospect area. I’ve met young people who’ve changed their whole outlook and are no longer offending.”

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Re-use Centre making a difference

Our new Re-use Centre is proving to be a big help in cutting down on the amount of waste we send to landfill. Before our centre opened in July, we were sending 100 tonnes of general waste from our empty homes and fly tipping clearances to landfill. This was expensive and wasteful as many of the items could have been recycled or reused. That’s why we decided to open the centre, where we can take all of this waste and sort it ourselves.

The remaining waste has been sent for energy recovery (incineration) generating electricity which is put back into the grid, avoiding unnecessary land use and creating less greenhouse gas emissions than landfill. We’ll also be able to make sure the good-quality items are re-used by donating them to local charities and social enterprises. Daniel Shelton, Environmental Performance Officer for PCH, said: “As we get better we will be able to recycle more. We wanted to achieve at least a 30 per cent recycle rate to make it worthwhile and it’s out perfoming that.”

Since opening in July, until the end of September the re-use centre has dealt with 230 tonnes of waste and household items that previously would have gone to landfill. We recently signed a new contract with Suez – formerly known as SITA Of this, 109 tonnes has been sent for UK – to get rid of our rubbish. recycling (47%), made up of wood, metal, cardboard and others. Suez did most of our office waste collection before, but each of our Ten tonnes has been sent for re-use sites was dealt with differently, under (4%), made up of furniture, bulky separate contracts. Now we’ve white goods, paint, clothes, books, brought everything into one contract small domestic appliances, NHS for the next three years, with the equipment, bikes and others. option to extend it to a fourth.

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In 2014 alone, we removed around 600 tonnes of flytipping from our estates at cost of more than £160,000. We could have spent that money on 64 new bathrooms or 45 kitchens.

By doing it this way, we’ve also got better terms and conditions – we now have more of a say in what happens to our rubbish, so none of what SUEZ collects for us will go to landfill. Instead, our general waste is sent to the new Energy from Waste plant while the rest will continue to be recycled.

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In Touch

Absolutely nothing is wasted Nowadays, we’re used to thinking that when our household appliances break down, it’s cheaper to replace rather than repair them. Not if you head for Absolute in Burrington Way, Plymouth, which has an amazing 20,000 spare parts in its Honicknowle depot. The firm was started in 2008 by Chris Catherall and Bradd Jenkins who decided that there was a need to reuse items rather than simply scrap them.

Andy Hawkins, Business Development Manager for Absolute, said: “Once people get inside they are hooked by what they see. They refer all their friends. “Anyone can come in and buy all their parts or a refurbished kitchen appliance. “Each month we take in around 3,000 appliances in total. Out of this we fix up to 300 and many others are harvested for their parts.”

Since 2008, Absolute has grown to employ more than 30 people. It works closely with the Plymouth Credit Union to devise payment plans for people who may be struggling to pay Absolute specialises in electricals and for goods outright. as well as selling parts, it also carries out repairs and sells secondhand fully You can visit Absolute at 9 Burrington refurbished goods with a warranty. Way or phone on 01752 780774 or see absolute-retail.co.uk for more Their depot includes a shop details. with reconditioned appliances at competitive prices. As well as selling these parts directly to customers, they also sell them online at Absolute Online Warehouse.

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Some other organisations you may find useful: Plymouth City Council

Organises bulky waste including fridges, freezers, furniture, beds and mattresses and electrical items. The cost for collection is £20 for up to three large items or £40 for up to six large items. If you are receiving certain benefits then you are eligible for two free collections per year. You can also take any household item free of charge to one of PCC’s Household Waste Recycling Centres at Chelson Meadow and Weston Mill. Both are open every day except Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Plymouth Furniture Re-use Project

Specialising in unwanted furniture but also takes fridges, freezers and washing machines. 01752 600277

Recycling Plymouth

Specialising in all things electrical including fridges, freezers, washing machines, TVs and computers. 01752 268 254

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In Touch

Many happy returns Happy birthday to West Park resident Christina Mann who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. Mrs Mann – who has three children, seven grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren – marked her day with a family party and a card from the Queen.

You can get In Touch delivered to your email inbox. To sign up, go to our website’s home page and enter your details under ‘Subscribe for email updates’.

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in at Plumer House You can visit us at or s) od Fo rm ite Fa Crownhill (oppos ate. op in Frankfort G our city centre sh

ay onday to Thursd Opening times: M til un am 30 8. ay , Frid 8.30am until 5pm 4.30pm

Our feature on trees in the last issue inspired you to put pen to paper: I was reading your In Touch magazine (Issue 24 page 11). I wanted to tell you about the tree in our garden. Myself and my children love it. It is a very big Whitebeam which according to the neighbours has been here for 60+ years.

op t the city centre sh You can also visi tween 9am and on Saturdays be midday. to us, we’re happy If you can’t get to come to you. l housing team to Contact your loca the eir details are on arrange a time. Th back page.

It is not the prettiest tree in the world but we love it as it provides a whole host of wildlife homes etc. My kids have used its branches to support a swin g for years and also they can climb its branches. My eldest daughter sits in it and reads in the summer. Ms H, North Prospect

Helen Richardson sent in these spooky pumpkins! Lovely to read you love trees. Got a job to have a favourite one as they are all great. Mount Edgcumbe has a cracker in Paulown ia. I’ve grown quite a lot from seed. I think the favourite has to be Castanea Satira. The bark is just magnificent. Mr R, Hooe

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0800 and 0808 numbers are now free from mobiles as well as landlines You can call our head office number (0800 694 3101) repairs number (0808 230 6500) for free!

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In Touch

#OurPCH

Lots of you have been telling us what you think.... very nice with the o made my house look so wh u yo of all to s nk all; everyone is so kind, Many, many tha I’m very grateful to you se. hou w ne a in ing liv very much. cladding. It’s like ce again, thank you so On e. don ll we job A . ite respectful and pol Mrs K, St Budeaux

Top 60 Developments

@Top60Award Congratulations North Prospect Regeneration, winner of Regeneration Scheme of the Year award @PlymCommHomes #top60awards

mouth YMCA Plymouth

ly ervices. @YMCAP with local s y a d to g n ti icknowle! Good mee ing in Hon n e p p a h lym Good work Homes @AllSaintsP m m ries @PlymCo @plymlibra e C d il h C in @TheCab

Many thanks to all of you who sent in photos of your beloved pets, particularly those who responded through Facebook. Yet again, we’ve seen some great photos – If your pet didn’t make it this time don’t worry, we’ll be publishing more in the next edition.

Ellie’s pet rabbit Poppy

Skye at Christmas

Toby the guinea pig

Diesel and Sonic

Larry the hamster

Rosie the goldfish

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Contact numbers

Plymouth City Council contacts

Repairs 0808 230 6500/01752 237990 0800 917 9459 (5pm to 7am)

Enquiries (including waste and out of hours) 01752 668000

Debit/Credit card Payment Line 0844 557 8321

Report fly tipping 01752 204147

Head Office 0800 694 3101

Housing options 01752 305496

City Centre Shop 01752 389778 Estover Team 0800 917 9496 Devonport Team 0800 917 9497 Whitleigh Team 0800 917 9498 North Prospect Team 0800 917 9499 Anti-social behaviour out of hours hotline 0800 028 7377 Housing with Support Team 0800 917 9452 Communities Team 0800 917 9457 Leaseholders 01752 388094 Enviromental Services 0800 917 9455 Gas Servicing 01752 388028/388030

Plymouth Community Homes Plumer House Tailyour Road PL6 5DH T

0800 694 3101 / 01752 237990

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[email protected]

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Charitable Industrial and Provident Society registration No: 30637R

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