112443 GHC newspaper 23 _+East_ by wuyunyi


The Gateshead Housing Company

Providing excellent homes and housing services       APRIL 2009

                                 Crookhill goes
                                'green' to help
                                  local wildlife
                                                 - see page 18

                                       West Edition
                                         Language Line
                                                               0191 433 5380
            0191 433 5382
                            enquiries@gatesheadhousing.co.uk   www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk

Information is also available in large print, audio or Braille on request.
      Call 0191 433 5382 or 0191 433 5380 for more information.
                                                                                                                                      Tributes paid to
                                                                                                                                      housing supporters
                                   A word from                                                                                        The Gateshead Housing Company has paid
                                                                                                                                      tribute to two well-known figures who died

                                   your Board Chair                                                                                   recently.
                                                                                                                                      Her Worship The Mayor
                                                                                                                                      of Gateshead, Councillor
                                                                                                                                      Maureen Chaplin died in
                                                                                                                                      February following a
                                                                                                                                      long battle with
Welcome to the latest issue of The Gateshead                                                                                          Councillor Chaplin was

Housing Company News, which as you can                                                                                                previously on the
                                                                                                                                      company's Local Area
                                                                                                                                      Boards, which were set
see from pages 4 and 5, we are celebrating                                                                                            up when the company
                                                                                                                                      was created.
three times over.                                                                                                                     She was also a governor at Highfield and
                                                                                                                                      Chopwell Primary Schools and a member of
                The company has been awarded the highest rating possible after an inspection by the Audit                             various committees, including Planning and
                Commission last November.                                                                                             Development, Regulatory and Licensing
                They gave us an "excellent" three stars out of three, with "excellent prospects for                                   Committees.
                improvement" after speaking to tenants, leaseholders, partners, the Board and employees.                                                           Alderman Joseph
This is a great achievement and shows just how far we have come                                                                                                    Hattam passed away in
as a company in such a short time.                                                                                                                                 January following a short
And of course this couldn't have been done without the
involvement of tenants and leaseholders.                                                                                                                           He was a long standing
                                                                                                                                                                   Gateshead councillor
You can read more about the areas of work highlighted                                 Barbara Dennis OBE, BOARD CHAIR -
                                                                                                                                                                   who represented the
in the commission's report on the next two pages.                                     THE GATESHEAD HOUSING COMPANY
                                                                                                                                                                   Lamesley Ward from
                                                                                                                                                                   1973 until his retirement
                                                    And don't worry, the improvements haven't stopped there.                                                       in May 2008.
                                  We will continue to make improvements to homes and services in the future.                          As Councillor Hattam he was also Mayor of
                        This includes how we deliver services such as HomeRepairs, making improvements to                             Gateshead in 1987 and Deputy Mayor of
                    homes, collecting rent, letting homes, tackling anti-social behaviour and much, much more.                        Gateshead in 1976 and 2001.
                                                                                                                                      He was also a housing company Board member
                                                                                                                                      until 2008.
The RESPECT campaign has played a major part in us tackling anti-social behaviour.                                                    Barbara Dennis OBE, Board Chair, said: "Both
You can read more about our work to promote the RESPECT agenda on                                                                     Maureen and Joseph worked hard to ensure that
pages 26 and 27.                                                                                                                      the work of the housing company benefited
                                                                                                                                      local people.
                                                                                                                                      "They will be sadly missed and our
                                            You can read about our latest performance figures on pages 8 and 9                        sympathies are with their family and
                                                    and also find out how we perform in your area on page 19.                         friends."
                                    And it's not just the Audit Commission who is impressed with our services -
                                                                                                  you are too!
                                        Over 93 per cent of customers who took part in the 2009 annual survey
                                                                       are happy with the services we provide.
                                                                                                                                           Got a story for us?
                                                                                You can find out more on page 11.                                  To contact
                                                                                                                                        The Gateshead Housing Company
  Making a difference...                                                                                                                         News Team call
                                      And as ever there is lots of news about improvements we are making in                               0191 433 5382, 0191 433 5386,
                                      your neighbourhood.                                                                                0191 433 5492 or 0191 433 5281.
This includes Decent Homes work, estate improvements and community events.                                                                     You can also e-mail
See pages 13 to 20 for a bumper focus on how we are 'Making a difference' in your area.                                               communications@gatesheadhousing.co.uk

The Gateshead Housing Company, Chief Executive: Bill Fullen.
Registered Office: The Gateshead Housing Company, Keelman House, Fifth Avenue Business Park, Fifth Avenue, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 0XA.
Registered in England and Wales No. 4944719.

Produced by Greymoon LLP - 0191 209 4533; Photographs by Jill Ancrum, Lorraine Alvey, Jenn Bartley, Ian Clarkin, Julie Dann, Allan Glenwright Photography, Doug Hall Photography, and Matt Reilly;
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This newspaper has been produced from the wood pulp of carefully farmed European coniferous forests. For every tree cut down,
at least one more is planted to ensure that they are constantly regenerated.
                                  Excellent - it's official
                                  The housing services provided by The Gateshead Housing Company are “excellent” with “excellent
                                  prospects for improvement”, according to an independent Audit Commission report.
    On a scale from zero to three stars, the Audit Commission inspection team gave the company the top 'excellent'
    three star rating after it inspected the company late last year.
    This was because it has a strong commitment to customer care, estates are well
    managed and major improvements are being made to thousands of homes.                                           High quality
                                                                                                                   High quality home
                                                                                                                   improvements to
      What we do best...                                                                                           more than 7,000
                                                                                                                    homes to a standard
                                                                                                                    above that required
                                                                                                                    by the Government.
                                    Friendly                                                Custom
                                    Having modern,                                         currently can
                                    accessible offices,                                    contact
                                    providing                                             telepho
                                                                                                  ne up u                                            Effective
                                                                                         8pm ea          ntil
                                    customer-friendly                                            ch
                                    services and good                                    weekda                                                      Effective
                                                                                        noon on nd until                                            working with
                                     information.                                               ys.                                                 partners to
                                                                                                                                                    address anti-
                                                                                                                                                    social behaviour.

      Support                                                    Well
      Clear information,
      support and                                                Estates are well
     choice for                                                  maintained                                         Involved
     local people                                                and common                                         Close
     to bid for vacant                                            areas are                                         involvement
     properties.                                                  secure and                                        of customers
                                                                  welcoming.                                         in shaping

                                                                                          Vulnera      nd
                                                                                               upport a
                                                                                          Extra s            red
      Rent                                                                                          are offe
                                                                                          services                                                Understanding
      Rent collection                                                                      to vulne ch as a
                                                                                            people , su                                           A good
      rates are above
                                                                                                      (MyPad)                                     understanding of
      average and                                                                           website
                                                                                                      ed                                         costs and the
      the best they                                                                          develop        r
                                                                                             specifically fo                                     delivery of
       have ever been                                                                                     ple.
                                                                                                       eo                                        significant efficiency
       in Gateshead.                                                                          young p
                                                                                                                                                 savings each year.

       Yvonne Davies, Audit
                                 Commission Head of
       said: "The services pro                               Housing (North),
                                                                                                                                             utive of the
                               vided by the company
                                                         excel in a number of                                        Bill Fullen, Chief Exec
                                                                                                                     housing compan     y, said:
      "Homes are being impro                                                                                                                 dit Commission
      for vulnerable people,
                                 ved to a high standard
                                                           , extra help is provided                                  "I am delighted the Au
                                                                                                                                                quality of services
      and offices provide exc
                              customers are involved
                                                         in developing services                                      recognised the excellent
                                                                                                                                               to thousands of
                              ellent facilities for peop
                                                         le.                                                         our employees provide
                                                 "And, the Board provid                                               people every day.
                                                                           es                                                                 mers is we will carry
                                                 strong leadership with                                               "Our message to custo
                                                                           a                                                                  improvements to
                                                commitment to custome                                                 on making even more
                                                                             r                                                                   have the standard
                                                involvement and custo                                                 ensure that local people
                                                                          mer                                                                  they truly deserve."
                                                care."                                                                of services and homes

                                                                                  Copies of the report are available from housing offices

      Positively commendable...

   The Audit Commission also identified eight areas of the company’s work they
   considered ‘good practice’ to be highlighted to other companies across the UK.
   These are:                                                                                                       Consiste
                                                                                                                             with six o
                                                                                                                   develop             th
                                                                                                                            mystery s er organisations
                                                                                                                  introducin          hopping;            to
                                                                                                                             g consiste        sharing c
                                                    Helping                                                       practice.             ncy; and        osts;
                                                                                                                                                           g best
                                                     Offering a range of support to
                                                    vulnerable people covering different
                                                    levels of need, from helping             Partnership
                                                    refugees, young people leaving care
                                                    and people escaping domestic              Identifying vulner
                                                                                                                able tenants,
                                                    violence, to helping tenants develop      through a partner
                                                                                                                 ship with the
                                                    basic skills, such as how to change      local Primary Care
                                                                                        a                         Trust, the
                                                    plug or put up a shelf.                  Mental Health Offi
                                                                                                                 cer provides
                                                                                             advice and assista
                                                                                                                nce to staff
                                                                                            and ensures custom
                                                                                                                   ers can
                                                                                            access specialist su

       Installing measures
       to ensure that                                                                                                               Accessibilit                 dard
       disturbance to local                                                                                                                        print as stan
                                                                                                                                     Using large            nity
        wildlife during                                                                                                                             commu
                                                                                                                                     and making                 vailable
        improvement works                                                                                                               nguage tr  anslations a
                                                                                                                                     la                           ing
        is minimised.                                                                                                                               ations. Help
                                                                                                                                      on all public          e and
                                                                                                                                      those with la
                                                                                                                                      literacy difficulties and       nts
                                                                                                                                                       tings and eve
                                                                                                                                       e nsuring mee                ibility
                                                                                                                                                       with access
                                                                                                                                       a re arranged               ind.
                                                                                                                                                     l needs in m
                                                                                                                                        and cultura

                                                     uk, a website dedicated to
   Encouraging                         their life     providing information
                     omers to develop                 specifically for young people.
   Encouraging cust                     training
                     extensive range of
   skills through an                                                                                                   Quality
   courses.                                                                                                            Sending lea
                                                                                                                                   seholders a
                                                                                                                      asking them               schedule of
                                                                                                                                    to commen                 repairs,
                                                                                                                     the repair a               t on the qua
                                                                                                                                 nd checking                  lity
                                                                                                                     a recharge,               if they’re elig of
                                                                                                                                  to make sure                 ible for
      Room for improvement...                                                                                        mistakenly ch
                                                                                                                                    arged for w
                                                                                                                                                 they are no
                                                                                                                                                ork underta

      The report highlighted some weaknesses that the company is already looking to address, including:
      • Ensuring customers can report repairs by telephone quickly and efficiently
      • Ensuring customers and neighbours keep their gardens tidy and clear of bulky waste and rubbish
      • Collecting a greater proportion of the rent arrears owed by former tenants
      • Setting challenging standards and responding quickly to customers who complain, as well as measuring
        satisfaction with all services
      • Ensuring decision are taken on the future of low-demand sheltered housing schemes.

or online at www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/inspection2009

    'Decent Homes'                                        STOP PRESS • STOP PRESS • STOP PRESS • STOP PRESS
    director retires
    Peter Burchall,
                                                          Rent increases - latest news
    the housing
    company's                                             It was widely reported in the press during          She said she would allow those councils who
    Director of                                           March that Housing Minister Margaret                passed this reduction on to their tenants to bid
    Property and                                          Beckett was reducing the national average           for additional money from the Government.
    Technical                                             council rent increase from 6.2 to 3.1 per cent.     Gateshead Council is keen to take up this offer,
    Services has                                          This was done in recognition of the difficulties    but is currently exploring the details, to ensure
    retired after                                         that tenants face in the current economic           there are no negative financial impacts on the
    helping to                                            climate.                                            services tenants receive.
    thousands of                                                                                              It is likely to be later in the year before it has
    homes.                                                                                                    worked through the details of the proposal and
                                                                                                              is in a position to pass any reductions on to
    Peter, who
    retired with 37
    year’s service                                                                                            So, until these issues have been resolved it is
    with the housing                                                                                          very important that you continue to pay the rent
    company and                                                                                               increase amount already agreed for 2009/10.
    Gateshead Council has managed the Decent                                                                  We will of course make sure that over the year
    Homes programme since its start.                                                                          all tenants pay the correct level of rent and
    Bill Fullen, Chief Executive, said: "Peter leaves a                                                       benefit from any agreed reduction in the rent
    genuine legacy that has benefited thousands of                                                            increase.
    local people.                                                                                             If you want help or advice about your rent
    "His tireless work to ensure people get the                                                               account contact your Rent and Income Team
    homes they deserve is well recognised by                                                                  - see page 14.
    the whole company and our partners."

    It pays to get more
    Tenant Margaret Archer, of Blaydon, was
                                                          Domestic abuser
    "delighted" to win £50 of shopping
    vouchers by taking part in a feedback
    survey about the company's Moving
                                                          given final warning
    Forward training courses.
                                                          A Gateshead man convicted of domestic               in Cloister Court if he breaks a court order.
    Margaret said: "I never usually win anything, so
                                                          abuse has been given a final warning to             The company served him with a possession
    it was a lovely surprise."
                                                          improve his behaviour or get out of his             notice after two cases of domestic abuse towards
    The questionnaire was sent to everyone on the         town centre home.                                   his female partner led to a sixth-month
    company's involvement database.
                                                          The Gateshead Housing Company has told 33-          suspended jail sentence from the courts.
    This includes customers that have taken part          year old Michael Lishman that he can be evicted
    in Moving Forward courses, groups, forums,                                                                A District Judge was also told of a previous arrest
                                                          at any time over the next 18 months from his flat
    panels or surgeries.                                                                                      for possession of drugs.
                                                                                                                                 Bill Fullen, Chief Executive of
                                                                                                                                 The Gateshead Housing
                                                                                                                                 Company, said: "We will not
                                                                                                                                 tolerate domestic abuse
                                                                                                                                 against tenants, leaseholders
                                                                                                                                 or our employees."
                                                                                                                                 In the past year, the company
                                                                                                                                 has given domestic abuse
                                                                                                                                 training to its employees and
                                                                                                                                 produced an online guide at
                                                                                                                                 co.uk/violence showing how
                                                                                                                                 it can help victims.
                                                                                                                                 See page 29 for more
                                                                                                                                 details about help available
                                                                                                                                 to victims and page 30 for
                                                                                                                                 how to contact your
                                                                                                                                 housing office to report
                                                                                                                                 violence or other anti-social
    Helen Watson, left, Involvement Officer                                                                                      behaviour.
    presents the vouchers to Margaret.                    Cloister Court in Gateshead town centre.

want to ...
Repo r t a repair?
                        Make a payment?
Tell us
what you                          Ge t involved?
                             Find a job?
        G  et a home?
See what ’s happening
on your estate?
  You can - and it’s all in one pla
  www.gateshead housing.co.uk
                               t free
  Did   you know you can ge
                            l libraries
  in ternet access at loca
  and Gateshead Civic
   Visit your library or c
                                out more.
   01  91 433 8400 to find
    Giving you the housing services
    The company has once again posted high levels
    of performance against tough targets set by the
    Government, Gateshead Council and the                                                                         A Decent (Homes) result
    company itself.                                                                                              Less than one in six homes are now
    From April to December the company achieved targets or                                                       ‘non-decent’ after the company
    improved on the previous year in 26 out of 28 areas –                                                        continued with its £1m a week
    including repairs, collecting rent, working to tackle anti-                                                  Decent Homes programme.
    social behaviour and making improvements to homes.                                                           From April to December, 2,269
    The company is now looking to keep this performance                                                          homes received improvements.
    going this year and beyond.
    Here is a summary of the company’s performance
    during that period.

                        Tenants are happy too!
                                Over 97 per cent of
                                                                                                 Right on time
                                 customers receiving                                                                                  tments
                                 Decent Homes work are                                             Over 27,248 HomeRepairs appoin
                                                                                                    were made and 22,027 kep   t during the nine
                                happy with the results.
                               A Service Improvement                                                                                   red than
                             Group of customers regularly                                          More appointments are being offe
                                                                                                                                      ll above its
                          reviews the targets to ensure the                                       ever before and the company is we
                                                   sfaction                                      target – but wants to do even  better.
                 company keeps on increasing sati

                                         Emergency, emergency – calling
                                        10,485 emergency repairs were ma
                                                                             de on time – with
                                     just over one in a hundred not hitt
                                                                         ing the mark.
                                 Just 64 out of 12,012 urgent rep
                                                                  airs weren’t completed on
                              time – giving us top-level perform
                                                                 ance in the UK amongst
                           similar housing companies.
                         And for routine jobs over 13,844
                                                             were completed on time – well
                 above our targets.
                 We will be working hard to get eve
                                                    n better this winter – especially on
                 days taken to complete non-urgent                                       the
                                                                                                            Flaming good
                                                                                                            We work hard to make sure that
                                                                                                            every home with gas appliances
                                                                                                            given a free service. Out of almost
                                                                                                           22,000 homes just over 100 don
                               Repairs makes you happy                                                                                       ’t
                                                                                                           have a current certificate due to
                                                                     you how
                                   Every time we do a repair we ask                                        tenants not allowing us access.
                                                                        s you
                                   we did. And in the past nine month
                                                                                                           But we are working hard to make
                                    have said, “well done.”
                                                                       py with                             sure that 100 per cent are
                                   94.5 per cent of customers are hap                                      completed this year.
                                                                    our target,
                                the HomeRepairs service – above
                                                               tners Morrison
                            but we are working with our par
                         Facilities Services to make it even

    If you want to know more about how we perform across the whole of Gateshead or just in your
    www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/performance or www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/localperformance

                                                                                     Small fish in a big
you deserve                                                                          pond?
                                                                                     A new scheme to help tenants in larger
                                                                                     properties to downsize their home has been
                                                                                     It is hoped that by helping tenants to find smaller
                      Putting energy into our performance
                                                                                     homes to accommodate changes in their
                       With our Decent Homes programme and our work with             circumstances, it will release larger family homes
                      partners like Warmzone Gateshead the energy efficiency         to those who need them.
                      rating of our homes is up compared to last year.               Tenants may consider the scheme if:
                                                                                     • Family members have moved out
                                                                                     • They find running their current home expensive
                                                                                     • They think a smaller home would be easier to
                                                                                     Help, advice and financial assistance is available
                    Money, money, money                                              to tenants who qualify for the scheme. Up to
                                                                                     £500 is on offer to help with removal costs, and
                    We collected more rent (98.23 per                                up to £500 for decoration or improvements to
                                                         cent) than ever before in
                    the nine months of the year. We                                  the new property.
                                                     will continue to tackle
                   tenants with rent arrears, and offe
                                                       r advice about paying         Current Gateshead Council tenants with a clear
                   rent and benefits that might be ava                               rent account, whose property is in a good
                  We now have less tenants with seri                                 condition, and whose home is generally in
                                                       ous arrears, facing court
                 action or eviction. And we will con                                 greater demand than the
                                                     tinue to work hard to           one they move to, can
                ensure even more rent is collected
                                                    to pay towards the many          apply.
               services you receive – including em
                                                   ergency repairs.
                                                                                     See the back
                                                                                     page for more
                                                                                     information or
                                                                                     contact your
                                                                                     housing office or
                                                                                     the HomeChoice
                And the clock starts now…                                            Team on
                                                  quicker than before with it        0191 433 5345.
                 We are now letting homes even
                                                    e to advertise in
                taking just over 36 days on averag
                                                    up to our Lettable
                  HomeChoice, ensure homes are
                     Standard and sign up our new ten
                                                           compared to last
                                                                                     Search on for
                        This is down by almost four days
                         year and over six days since 2006/0
                                                              7 meaning less         Kibblesworth builder
                         rent is being lost too.

                            Let’s be social – not anti-socia
                            Almost nine out of ten anti-social
                                                               behaviour cases are
                             being resolved by the company wit
                                                                 hout the need for
                             legal action.
                           And we are responding quicker to
                                                               issues being raised   The housing company is currently visiting all
                          by residents – achieving our targ
                                                            ets for setting the      tenants in Kibblesworth Airey houses
                        wheels in motion to tackle the pro                           individually, to discuss their housing options
                       And more customers think we are                               and answer questions.
                                                          making a difference in
                      tackling this behaviour too. See                               Over the next few months the company will be
                                                       pages 26 and 27.
                                                                                     looking to appoint a contractor to work on the
                                                                                     development of the new homes, which will
                                                                                     replace the 1940s Airey properties.
                                                                                     The first phase of the development could begin
                                                                                     this November.
area then ask at your housing office or log onto                                     Anyone wanting to know more should
                                                                                     contact Birtley housing office on
                                                                                     0191 433 6102 or e-mail

     Noise is off
     The housing company has invested
                                                              Leasehold Team ‘hits the road’
     in another noise monitoring unit to help tenants
     capture evidence of anti-social behaviour.
     The company has recently bought its third Matron
     Lite noise monitoring system to help record and
     remedy instances of neighbourhood nuisance.
     The new unit logs noise nuisance digitally and
     any recordings, including a measurement of their
     level in decibels, can be transferred onto
     specialist software.
     So far this year the Matron Lites have assisted
     the police in legal actions; in one case recordings
     made at a property supported an arrest against a
     child abuse case.
     The company has used noise-monitoring
     equipment since 2007 to allow tenants to
     capture incidents of anti-social behaviour.
     For further information contact your
                                                              Janice, Laura and Helen, the company’s Leasehold Team.
     housing office or our Neighbourhood
     Relations Team. See page 30.                             The housing company’s Leasehold Team is             • Monday, 22 June – from 10am to noon at
                                                              set to cross the whole borough over the               Clasper Village Residents’ Centre
                                                              coming months to give over 800
                                                              leaseholders the chance to meet them.
                                                                                                                  • Thursday, 23 July – from 2pm to 4pm at
                                                                                                                    Wrekenton housing office.
     Housing company's                                        The team, which looks after leaseholders in flats
                                                              and maisonettes bought under the Right to Buy       Further drop-in sessions are being organised for
                                                                                                                  later this year.
     training pledge                                          scheme, has organised three mini forums in May.
                                                              They will be on hand to answer queries about        For more information about the events call
                                                              HomeRepairs, service charges, Decent Homes or       Janice, Helen or Laura on 0191 433 5395 or
     The housing company has pledged to help its                                                                  e-mail leasehold@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                                              any other leasehold matter.
     employees gain new skills through training.
                                                              Leaseholders can come and meet their team on:       You can also contact the team by Minicom on
     It recently strengthened its commitment to                                                                   0191 433 5349, fax to 0191 433 5354 or text
     workforce development by signing up to the               • Wednesday, 20 May – from 10am to noon at          to 0762 480 4167 (start text with ‘LEASE’).
     Learning and Skills Council's (LSC's) Skills Pledge.       Whinney Close Residents’ Centre
     The company's promise shows active support to
     employees furthering their education to help the
     business succeed and grow.
     And employees can develop their abilities and work
     towards relevant qualifications, to at least Level 2 -
     the equivalent of five GCSEs, grades A* to C.
                                                              Money, money money...
     Log onto www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                                              The Gateshead
     /jobs to find out about current vacancies or
                                                              Housing Company is
     placements with the company.
                                                              asking customers to
                                                              help it save money
                                                              and make housing
                                                              services even better.
                                                              Its Value for Money
                                                              'Service Improvement
                                                              Group' has so far saved
                                                              over £1 million to be
                                                              reinvested into services.
                                                              The group meets
                                                              regularly to look at ways
                                                              to keep costs down but
                                                              still ensuring customers
                                                              receive efficient and
                                                              effective services too.
                                                              The VFM group, which is
                                                              recruiting more
                                                              members, is just one of                             If you want to join any of the groups and make a
                                                              several making things better for thousands of       real difference then get in touch.
                                                              customers.                                          To find out more call Helen or Louise in our
                                                              Groups include customer service, Decent Homes,      Involvement Team on 0191 433 5376 or
      Bill Fullen, Chief Executive of the housing             anti-social behaviour, HomeChoice, getting          0191 433 5380.
     company, left, signs the skills pledge with Chris        involved, leaseholders, HomeRepairs, estates
     Roberts, Regional Director, Learning and Skills                                                              You can also e-mail the team at
     Council North East.                                      and rent.                                           involve@gatesheadhousing.co.uk

Over nine in ten customers
happy with our services
The Gateshead                                       Of the 1,450 tenants that completed the survey,
                                                    over 93 per cent were satisfied with the overall
                                                                                                           results. And we intend to
                                                                                                           keep on making services
Housing Company has                                 service the company provides.                          better by making
                                                                                                           improvements to homes;
                                                    Opportunities to influence decisions, value for
received praise for its                             money and the homes and neighbourhoods                 asking our customers for
                                                    people live in, also scored highly, but the            their views; and more
services from tenants,                              company is looking to even further improve             importantly, keep on
                                                    services.                                              acting on those views."
after carrying out its                              Bill Fullen, Chief Executive, pictured right, said:    Surveys were still
2009 survey of                                      "We are delighted that so many of our customers
                                                    are happy with the services that we offer them.
                                                                                                           being processed as we went to press and do
                                                                                                           not include results from the leaseholder
customers.                                          "The figures are very close to last year's best ever   survey carried out at the same time.

Initial results of the survey, which was carried out in January and February, were:

   Are you happy with the services
   you receive from The Gateshead                          Are you satisfied with your                                 Do you consider
         Housing Company?                                       neighbourhood?                                      rent to be good value?

                   yes                                                    yes                                                          yes
              93.5%                                                 90.5%                                                     93.1%
               (96% 2008)                                             (92% 2008)                                                (92% 2008)

                          no                                                         no                                                      no
                        6.5%                                                       9.5%                                                  6.9%

  Are there enough chances to ‘get                                Are you satisfied
 involved’ and influence decisions?                               with your home?

                   yes                                                      yes
                                                                                                                 SEE JULY’S
              93.8%                                                   88.1%                                     NEWSPAPER
               (95% 2008)                                               (88% 2008)
                                                                                                             FOR MORE RESULTS
                                                                                                                 FROM THE
                                                                                                               2009 SURVEY
                          no                                                        no
                        6.2%                                                     11.9%

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                                                                                                         Making a difference in
                                                                                                                                  West Gateshead
Above: Woodlands Road in Highfield.

Housing company takes action
against anti-social tenant
The Gateshead Housing Company has taken              is their number one priority.”
legal action against a tenant after a visitor        In the past year, the housing company’s
to her property was convicted of possessing          Neighbourhood Relations Team has worked to
heroin with intent to supply.                        get several anti-social tenants evicted, and also
Lisa Graham, 23, of Woodlands Road, Highfield        gained suspended eviction orders and Anti-Social
was taken to court for breaking her tenancy          Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) against a number of
agreement after police arrested Michael Gillendar    residents across the borough.
in possession of heroin and methadone at the
                                                     Between April and December this year, the
                                                     housing company’s Neighbourhood Relations
A Postponed Possession Order was agreed with         Team took 135 legal actions, equating to one
the housing company at Gateshead County              every two working days.
Court, meaning that any further breaches of her
                                                     Residents wanting to report anti-social
tenancy between now and January 2010 could
                                                     behaviour should contact their nearest
result in Graham being evicted.
                                                     housing office or call 0191 433 5327.
Bill Fullen, Chief Executive of The Gateshead
Housing Company is pleased to be working with
Gateshead Council, the police and the courts to
reduce anti-social behaviour, and has vowed to        Making a difference...
keep on doing so.
He said: “The company has made improvements            From April to December 2008, we
to thousands of homes across Gateshead, but it         resolved 96 per cent of closed cases
is also firmly committed to improving estates.         without legal action.
“Tenants and leaseholders have told us previously      See page 19 to find out more.
that dealing with anti-social behaviour on estates

      n’t run from rent arrears
You ca                    confidential
          For free and 4 3 3 6 2 3 5
  rent a dvic e call 0 1 9 1
  Who’s Who?                                          in West Gateshead
Blaydon (including Highfield and Ryton) - 0191 433 6202
                                                                                                Area Housing

Acting Housing        Housing            Housing         Neighbourhood            Estate           Margaret
   Manager           Manager             Manager         Relations Officer        Officer          Copeland
Karen Dowens        Hazel Forster       Ken Forster       Emma Snaith        Julie Anderson       Sheltered
                                                                                                Estate Officer

     Estate             Estate             Estate            Estate               Estate          Blaydon (incl.
    Officer            Officer             Officer           Officer             Officer       Highfield and Ryton)
 Lisa Corrigan       Joan Moore       Jocelyn Snowball   Veronica Taylor     Victoria Walker      Joyce Scott

Decent Homes Team - 0191 433 5410

 Tenant Liaison     Senior Tenant      Tenant Liaison    Tenant Liaison      Tenant Liaison    Administrative
   Manager          Liaison Officer       Assistant        Assistant            Assistant         Assistant
Carole Nicholson   John Monaghan       Alison Bulman      Jean Laskey          Lisa Orton       Syed Hussain

                        Easy ways
                        to pay                           Blaydon set for
                        Did you know you can pay
                        your rent at over 200
                        PayPoint locations in
                                                         Christmas already
                        Gateshead and Newcastle          Shoppers in Blaydon got some money
                        city centre, as well as at all   saving advice to help survive next Christmas
                        Post Offices?                    and overcome the effects of last year’s
                                                         festivities recently.
     All you need to do is take your payment card        Gateshead Council officers manned a mobile
     and money to anywhere you see the PayPoint          exhibition centre at Blaydon Shopping Precinct to
     sign including newsagents, supermarkets,            launch the national SAV£ XMAS campaign,
     convenience stores and garages.                     which offers safe and easy ways to save money
                                                         for the festive season.
     PayPoint locations                                  The housing company used the event to get
     in and around Blaydon                               benefits help and advice out into the community
                                                         whilst the financial problems caused by last
     • Alldays - The Garth, Front Street,                Christmas are still fresh in people's minds - and
                                                         to give people time to prepare for this year.
     • Digpal News - 2 Cromwell Avenue,
       Blaydon-on-Tyne                                   Councillor David Napier said: "Saving for
                                                         Christmas can be a real problem if you are on a
     • Londis Supermarket - 72 Clavering Road,           low income.
                                                         "The sort of economic problems, which the
     • Malthurst Ltd - Derwenthaugh Road,
                                                         country is currently experiencing, will mean that
                                                         paying for next Christmas is unlikely to be much
     • McCutcheon News - 27 The Precinct,                easier.                                                   Benefits Assistants Emily Pippard (left) and Eileen
       Wesley Court, Blaydon-on-Tyne                                                                               Rook offered help and advice at the Launchpad.
                                                         "So it's important that people make the right
     • McCutcheon News - 28 The Garth,                                                                             Contact your Rent and Income Team for help
                                                         choices now, not just to help clear the debts from
       Front Street, Blaydon-on-Tyne                                                                               and advice with budgeting - see page 14.
                                                         last Christmas, but to help ensure that they don't
     • Winlaton News & Wines - 1-3 Tyne Street,          have such a big a debt hangover this year."

     PayPoint locations
     in and around Highfield
     • Rai Mini Market - 19 The Leazes, Burnopfield
                                                                    Your estate, your views
     • Sunlea General Dealer - Hookergate Lane,
       High Spen, Rowlands Gill.                         The Gateshead Housing Company wants your views on how we could make your estate even better.
                                                         One way to do this is to come on an Estate Tour - see page 20 for details of your next tour.
     PayPoint locations                                  But, if you can't make a tour, you can still give us your views and we will make sure your housing office,
     in and around Ryton                                 our Neighbourhood Relations Team or other services get to hear about it.
     • Co-op North East - Main Street, Crawcrook         Simply fill in the form below and return it to us - no stamp is needed.
     • JG Mathews - 11 Broomey Hill Road, Throckley      Important: You don't have to give us your name and address - but it will help us to give you feedback if
                                                         you do. You must tell us the estate you live on though, to help us look at the issue.
     • Ridden News Limited - Senate House, Hexham
       Road, Throckley                                   Your name:
     • Somerfield - Parsons Drive, Ryton                 Address:
     • Spar - Lead Road, Greenside, Ryton.
                                                         Tel:                                 E-mail:
     Post Office branches
     • Blackhall Mill - 14 River View, Blackhall Mill
                                                         The estate I live on is:
     • Blaydon - Co-op Store, Unit 20, The Precinct,
       Blaydon                                           I think my estate is:
     • Burnopfield - Spar Store, Front Street,
     • Chopwell - 32-34 Derwent Street, Chopwell
     • Crawcrook - Spring Cottage, Main Street, Ryton
     • Crookhill - 16 Crookhill Terrace                  What is the most important issue you think the company should tackle on your estate?
     • Greenside - Lorraine House, Lead Road, Ryton      (Please just tick one - the one you think is most important)
     • Highfield - Old Co-op Buildings, Smailes Lane,    Untidy gardens             Youth disorder              Cleaning/grounds maintenance
                                                         Better lighting            Community facilities        Other (please specify)
     • Leazes - Syke Road, Burnopfield
                                                         Please give this to any of our employees, drop into your housing office of post to us (no stamp is needed) at
     • Ryton - 5 Dean Terrace, Ryton                     Freepost Plus RRZG-CLYL-XKRU, The Gateshead Housing Company, Keelman House,
     • Winlaton - 13 Front Street, Winlaton              Fifth Avenue Business Park, Fifth Avenue, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 0XA.
     • Winlaton Mill - 5a Noel Avenue, Winlaton Mill.

                                                                                                          Making a difference
Winlaton Group celebrate                                                                                  in West Gateshead
Community Fund Grant                                                                                      The housing company has been doing a lot to
                                                                                                          improve the West of Gateshead with the help of
                                                                                                          customers – here are just a few recent examples:

                                                                                                          Housing office - Blaydon
                                                                                                          The company has
                                                                                                          added a third meeting
                                                                                                          room to their housing
                                                                                                          The meeting room
                                                                                                          was built to
                                                                                                          customers who
                                                                                                          require disabled
                                                                                                          access, but will also
                                                                                                          be shared with
                                                                                                          Blaydon library.
                                                                                                          The room will hold
                                                                                                          important meetings
                                                                                                          for customers who require assistance with citizen
                                                                                                          advice, interviews, sign up, benefits advice and
                                                                                                          general housing queries.

                                                                                                          Sheltered Schemes - Blaydon
Far right, housing company Board member Kathryn Ferdinand and FHM’s Emma O’Sullivan, hand over
a bumper cheque to members of the Winlaton Wednesday Day Centre with the help of the housing                                              Residents of
company’s Vicky Walker.                                                                                                                   Mosspool,
                                                                                                                                          Greenfields and
                                                                                                                                          Whinney Close
A Winlaton group is celebrating thanks to a          The award came after Jack Hayward of the group                                       will benefit from
£560 grant from The Gateshead Housing                found out about the fund at an event featured in                                     newly added
Company and its partners.                            a previous issue of this newspaper.                                                  benches to the
The award from the housing company's award-          Jack, a keen supporter of the centre’s work, met                                     exterior of their
winning Community Fund means the Winlaton            Sandra Hillyard of the Community Foundation at                                       estate this spring.
Wednesday Day Centre can fund trips out for its      an open day to promote the event last April and      The benches will provide a comfortable seating
members.                                             picked up an application pack.                       area for residents and will help improve the
Margaret Storey, who helps organise the group        The group then applied and received the grant -      appearance of the estate.
at Winlaton Community Centre, said: "The             so it pays to get in touch.                          Funding for the benches has been provided
award is a wonderful boost for our group which                                                            through the Neighbourhood Pride scheme.
                                                     The Gateshead Housing Company, along with its
brings older people together who couldn't
                                                     partners Frank Haslam Milan (FHM) North East,
normally get out and socialise."
                                                     Gateshead Council's Local Environmental Services
The group have already been on one trip for their    and Morrison Facilities Services, provide support,   Garden House – Low
Christmas meal and are planning to use the rest      both in money and work 'in-kind', towards the
of the money to celebrate VE Day in May.             fund.
                                                                                                          Crawcrook Estate
                                                     The Community Fund offers cash and in-kind           A resident on Low Crawcrook Estate was
                                                     awards from £500 to £10,000 to groups that aim       experiencing problems with youths cutting
                                                     to improve the lives of people in the borough.       through their garden due to gaps in the hedging.

                                                     Groups in Gateshead wanting to find out              Estate Officers ensured fencing was erected to
                                                     more about the scheme should call                    improve the appearance and stop people
                                                     0191 222 0945.                                       crossing through the yard.

                                                                                                          Ash Grove – Ryton
                                                                                                          Residents of Ash Grove in Ryton complained that
                                                                                                          their gardens were being used by youths to play
                                                                                                          As a result, planting was added to the open
                                                                                                          space to stop youths being able to play football.
                                                                                                          Funding for the planting was provided by the
                                                    The Gateshead Housing Company                         Neighbourhood Pride scheme.
Sandra Hillyard of the Community Foundation
talks to Jack Hayward about applying for the
fund last year.
                                                      Community fund
     Local information
     Housing offices
                                                             Crookhill pupils help turn
     Your housing office can offer you a range of
     services, including advice on rent or to make
                                                             their school green
     payments, neighbourhood nuisance issues
     and benefits advice.
     In the West of Gateshead the housing
     company has offices at:
     Gateshead Council @ Blaydon
     (including Highfield and Ryton)
     5 Wesley Court, Blaydon, Gateshead, NE21 5BT
     • Monday - 9am to 5pm
     • Tuesday - 9am to 5pm
     • Wednesday - 9am to 3.45pm
     • Thursday - 9am to 5pm
     • Friday - 9am to 4.30pm
     Tel: 0191 433 6202

     Decent Homes Team
     This team covers the West of Gateshead and
     works with with Frank Haslam Milan Limited for          Crookhill Primary pupils with Julie Anderson of the housing company and employees of Gateshead
     the improvements.                                       Council Local Environmental Services who helped fit the boxes.
     Tel: 0191 433 5410                                      Pupils from Crookhill Primary School,               environment and reinforce the importance of
     E-mail: fhm@gatesheadhousing.co.uk                      Gateshead did their bit for local wildlife at a     maintaining the environment around them.
                                                             recent event by fitting bird boxes around           The scheme aims to encourage local primary
     Tenant and resident associations                        their school.                                       schools in the design and introduction of a range of
     Tenant and resident associations are made up of         The bird boxes were fitted around the school        environmental projects to improve their local area.
     volunteers from the local community.                    grounds, where a variety of common birds
                                                                                                                 Pupils from schools across West Gateshead have
     Associations encourage residents to get involved        gather.
                                                                                                                 also been taking part in a number of other green
     with local issues, with meetings open to                The project is part of a Neighbourhood Pride        projects, including bulb planting, landscaping,
     everyone.                                               scheme supported by The Gateshead Housing           environmental classes, littering and tree planting.
     Tenant and resident associations in your area are at:   Company and Gateshead Council.
                                                                                                                 For more information on Neighbourhood Pride
                                                             The pupils benefited from an interesting activity   schemes contact your nearest housing office.
     Blaydon West Residents' Group                           outdoors, which helped enhance their local
     Jennifer Bullock 56 Theresa Street, Blaydon-on-
     Tyne, Gateshead, NE21 4QE
     Tel: 0191 440 1484
     E-mail: daveandjenbullock@hotmail.com
     Bleach Green Residents' Association
                                                             Planting spruces up
     Brenda Miller 12 Brantwood Court, Bleach
     Green, Gateshead, NE21 5HT
     Tel: 0191 414 1694                                                                                          Following the completion of Decent
     Joanne Dunworth 17 Jobling Avenue,                                                                          Homes work tenants are now benefiting
     Winlaton, Gateshead, NE21 4RR                                                                               from sustainability work being carried out
     Tel: 0191 421 3418                                                                                          across the Hole-in-the-Wall estate.
                                                                                                                 The sustainability work will transform the large
     Chopwell Residents' Association                                                                             open areas of green on the estate by including
     George Gill 13 Adair Terrace, Mill Road,                                                                    shrubs and plants.
     Chopwell, Gateshead, NE17 7HA                                                                               Tenants worked with the housing company
     Tel: 01207 561 231                                                                                          and the local tasking scheme and decided that
                                                                                                                 planting would break up the green areas
     Croft Resident Group RSL
                                                                                                                 across the estate and brighten up the open
     Anne Watson 33 Cushycow Lane, Ryton,                                                                        spaces.
     Gateshead, NE40 3NJ
                                                                                                                 The planting is estate wide, and although the
     Tel: 0191 413 6642                                                                                          plants and shrubs to be used are self-
     Ryton - DSD Community Tenants'                                                                              sustaining, the area will still benefit from
                                                                                                                 regular grounds maintenance work.
     and Residents' Association
                                                                                                                 Work started in February and weather
     Nora Taylor 35 Dale View Gardens, Crawcrook,            Left to right, Ken Lindsay and Lewis Armstong
                                                             of Gateshead Council and John Monaghan of           permitting, is set to be completed across
     Gateshead, NE40 4ED                                                                                         the estate by late spring.
                                                             The Gateshead Housing Company, with the
     Tel: 0191 413 3766                                      planting at Hole-in-the-Wall.

   How do we perform in...
                                   West Gateshead?
         Rent arrears                                   Letting homes                                       Empty homes

In December 2008, the average rent arrears in   From April to December 2008, 195 properties           In December 2008, 71 out of 3,769 of our
  your area was £65. Boroughwide, it was an     were let in your area, being vacant for an average      properties in your area were empty. This
   average of £99. The company is currently     of 42 days. Boroughwide, 1,400 properties were       means 1.9 per cent were empty, compared to
        collecting record levels of rent.           let, vacant for an average of 36 days.                    1.5 per cent boroughwide.

       HomeRepairs                                     Decent Homes                                           Estate Tours

                                                                                                            From April to December 2008, 213
                                                                                                            Estate Tours were carried out in your
 From April to December 2008, we kept 97.1      From April to December 2008, 494 properties                 area. 51 per cent were attended by a
per cent of HomeRepair appointments in your     received Decent Homes improvements in your                total of 70 residents. Boroughwide, 893
    area. This compares to 96.9 per cent of       area. Boroughwide, 2,269 homes received            tours saw 56 per cent attended by a total of
     27,887 appointments boroughwide.                improvements during the same time.                             383 residents.

Anti-social behaviour
                                                      If you want to know more about how we
                                                        perform across the whole of Gateshead
                                                          or just in your area then ask at your
                                                               housing office or log onto:
From April to December 2008, 96 per cent of
235 closed cases were resolved without legal
 action. 193 new cases were opened and 50
       legal and formal actions taken.
                                  April-Sept Tours
                                   Blaydon, Highfield and Ryton           For more information contact: 0191 433 6202

• Blaydon
                                  Bleach Green
                                  Tuesday 12 May – 10am
                                  Tuesday 9 June – 10am
                                  Acquired Properties
                                                                Wednesday 24 June – 10am
                                                                Wednesday 26 August – 10am
                                                                                             Monday 5 May – 10.30am
                                                                                             Tuesday 30 June – 10.30am
                                                                                             Rydal Crescent
                                  Tuesday 5 May – 10am          Friday 26 June – 10am        Wednesday 20 May – 2.30pm
• Highfield
                                  Tuesday 7 July – 10am         Friday 28 August – 10am      Wednesday 22 July – 2.30pm
• Ryton
                                  Shibdon Bank                  South Sherburn               Conifer Close
                                  Tuesday 14 April – 10am       Monday 11 May – 10am         Wednesday 29 April – 10.30am
                                  Tuesday 16 June – 10am        Monday 13 July – 10am        Friday 3 July – 10.30am
                                  Parkhead                      Lower Rowlands Gill          Whinney Close
                                  Wednesday 6 May – 10am        Monday 18 May – 10am         Tuesday 11 May – 2.30pm
                                  Thursday 9 July – 10am        Monday 20 July – 10am        Thursday 23 July – 2.30pm
                                  Hole in the Wall              Upper Rowlands Gill          Crookhill
                                  Tuesday 12 May – 10am         Wednesday 24 June – 10am     Wednesday 10 June – 10am
                                  Tuesday 14 July – 10am        Wednesday 26 August – 10am   Wednesday 12 August – 10am
                                  Bagnall Grange                East Lea                     Hexham Old Road
                                  Tuesday 12 May – 10am         Tuesday 12 May – 11.30am     Wednesday 17 June – 10am
                                  Tuesday 14 July – 10am        Tuesday 14 July – 11.30am    Wednesday 19 August – 10am

                                  Snookhill/St Pauls            South Lea                    Runhead
                                  Thursday 11 June – 10am       Friday 14 May – 11.30am      Wednesday 3 June – 10am
We will tour all estates                                                                     Wednesday 5 August – 10am
                                  Thursday 6 August – 10am      Friday 16 July – 11.30am
including sheltered housing
and blocks of flats on at least   Lakes Estate                  West Acres                   Ryton Central
a bi-monthly basis.               Thursday 18 June – 10am       Friday 19 May – 3.30pm       Tuesday 23 June – 10am
                                  Thursday 20 August – 10am     Friday 21 July – 3.30pm      Wednesday 5 August – 10am
Residents will be offered the
                                  Hallgarth                     William Morris Avenue        Parkfield/Tower Gardens
opportunity to accompany                                                                     Tuesday 29 April – 10am
the Estate Officer during         Tuesday 23 June – 10am        Thursday 11 June – 2.30pm
                                  Tuesday 25 August – 10am                                   Tuesday 30 June – 10am
these tours.                                                    Burnside Road
                                  High Spen                     Monday 15 June – 2.30pm      Low Crawcrook
We will identify and take                                                                    Wednesday 6 May – 10am
                                  Tuesday 19 May – 10am         South Sherburn
appropriate action with regard                                                               Wednesday 8 July – 10am
                                  Tuesday 21 July – 10am        Wednesday 17 June – 2.30pm
to any issues detracting from
                                                                                             High Crawcrook
the appearance of an estate.      Winlaton Mill                 Southwood Crescent           Wednesday 13 May – 10am
                                  Tuesday 5 May – 10am          Thursday 14 May – 2.30pm
Feedback from the Estate                                                                     Wednesday 15 July – 10am
                                  Tuesday 7 July – 10am         Thursday 16 July – 2.30pm
Tours will be provided to                                                                    Low Greenside
residents.                        Barlow                        Boltons Bungalows            Wednesday 20 May – 10am
                                  Tuesday 5 May – 10am          Thursday 21 May – 10.30am
We will publicise the dates                                                                  Wednesday 22 July – 10am
                                  Tuesday 7 July – 10am         Tuesday 21 July – 10.30am
of all Estate Tours.                                                                         High Greenside
                                  Blackhall Mill                Denton View                  Wednesday 27 May – 10am
We will monitor our               Monday 27 April – 10am        Tuesday 23 June – 10.30am    Wednesday 29 July – 10am
performance and publish           Monday 29 June – 10am
the results.                                                    Crocus Close                 The Lonnen
                                  Lower Chopwell                Tuesday 19 May – 10.30am     Wednesday 10 June – 2.30pm
                                  Wednesday 27 May – 10am       Monday 27July – 10.30am
Tours can take up to two
                                  Wednesday 29 July – 10am                                   Greenfields
hours depending on the                                          Daffodil Close               Wednesday 29 April – 2.30pm
size of the estate, you can       Upper Chopwell                Tuesday 19 May – 10.30am     Monday 22 June – 10.30am
join in at any part if you        Thursday 25 June – 10am       Monday 27 July – 10.30am
do not want to take part          Thursday 27 August – 10am                                  Emmaville
in the whole tour.                                                                           Friday 1 May – 10.30am
                                                                                             Monday 29 June – 10.30am

To find out more about Estate Tours in your
area contact your housing office or visit                   www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/estatetours
                                                                                                             New cheat hotline
Last places left on                                                                                          A new 24-hour hotline has been created by to

gardening scheme                                                                                             make it even easier for concerned residents to
                                                                                                             help in the battle against benefit cheats.
                                                                                                             Anyone in Gateshead who suspects that benefits
                                                                                                             are being claimed illegally can now call fraud
The Gateshead Housing Company has                                                                            investigations 24 hours a day.
extended its popular gardening scheme to
help even more tenants keep their gardens                                                                    The new hotline, 0191 433 3657, is totally
tidy.                                                                                                        confidential and residents can also e-mail
The company's scheme already helps over 830
customers not able to manage a garden by                                                                     Every year hundreds of thousands of pounds of
                                                                                                             illegally claimed benefits are returned to the public
themselves, mainly because of their age or
                                                                                                             purse thanks to fraud investigation work
                                                                                                             undertaken in Gateshead.
It has added extra places onto this year's scheme
                                                                                                             But one of the most important tools in the
to help improve the look of homes and                                                                        armoury of benefits officers is the anonymous
neighbourhoods, and assist those with genuine                                                                tip off.
difficulties in managing gardens by themselves.
For those tenants who are eligible, Housing
Benefit will cover the costs of the service,
however, any other customer of The Gateshead
                Housing Company can join the            Bill Fullen, Chief Executive of the housing
                                      scheme by         company, said: "By extending this popular
                                          paying a      scheme we are able to help more tenants who
                                           small        have a genuine difficulty in maintaining their
                                            weekly      gardens and improve the look of estates across
                                           charge       the borough."
                                         added to       Customers wanting to get a place on the scheme
                                  their rent.           or to find out more, should contact the
                              Landscape                 company's Gardening Team on 0191 433 5371
                             gardeners from             or ask at their nearest housing office.
                            Gateshead Council will      Further information and an online
                          then carry out regular
                        garden tidy ups during
                                                        application form are also available at
                                                                                                             Top people award for
                        the year.
                                                                                                             The Gateshead Housing Company has won a
                                                                                                             top award for how it treats its employees
                                                                                                             and the wider community.

Community Fund wins top
                                                                                                             The Chartered Institute of Personal
                                                                                                             Development's (CIPD) 2009 'Equality and
                                                                                                             Diversity in the Workplace' award recognised its
                                                                                                             internal and external training programme,

national award                                                                                               human resource policies, and work with the
                                                                                                             wider community.
                                                                                                             The company, which employs over 400 people,
The Gateshead Housing Company                                                                                took the top spot from Proctor and Gamble and
Community Fund has won a prestigious                                                                         Tyneside Cyrenians Ltd.
national award.
                                                                                                             The company was also a finalist in the Tyneside
It was awarded 'Best Community Initiative' in the                                                            and Northumberland Business Awards 2009 as
National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) annual                                                                    'Employer of the Year'.
                                                                                                             To find out more about jobs and work
The fund offers cash and in-kind awards from                                                                 placements at the company log onto
£500 to £10,000 to groups wanting to help
improve the lives of people in the borough.
                                                     The Gateshead Housing Company                           www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/jobs

The fund, which has awarded over £100,000 to
local groups since it was launched in 2007,
supports projects that:
                                                       Community fund
• Improve the lives of people young and old
• Are environmentally friendly and help to make         a real difference to the lives of local people and
  Gateshead a 'greener', more sustainable place         we were delighted to win such a prestigious
  to live                                               award."
• Benefit a whole estate or neighbourhood by            The winners were announced in York at the
  involving residents of all ages.                      NFA's annual conference.
Bill Fullen, Chief Executive of the housing             See the advert on page 28 for details on
                                                                                                             (Left to right): Tony Leader, Liz Reay (judge),
company, said: "Our Community Fund allows               how to apply to the fund.                            Rachel Embleton of The Gateshead Housing
hard working groups and organisations to make                                                                Company and Tony Weightman.

Gateshead Council
Gateshead East & District in Bloom Committee • Whickham and District in Bloom Committee • Blaydon and District in Bloom Committee

   Competition 2009
                                                verthe size and enterour competition.
                Spruce up your garden whate
                          It will cost you nothing and you could win a prize!             rs.
        If you don'thave a garden use window      boxes, hanging basketsorplant containe
             There are also categoriesfor Comm    ercial,Industrialand Religious Grounds.
                                           nearestlibrary,orcontact the Events Te     am.
             Pick up an entry form at your

Enquiries to:
Events Team, Gateshead Council
Old Town Hall, West Street
Gateshead, NE8 1HE
Tel: 0191 433 6900
                                                                                                          Beware of bogus callers
One plan for                                                                                              The company is warning residents to be on

everyone                                                                                                  their guard after hoax callers claimed to be
                                                                                                          working on the company's popular
                                                                                                          gardening scheme.
The housing company has been                                                                              The culprits have been demanding on the spot
working to develop a 'single                                                                              money from residents for the hire of skips, plants
equality scheme' to ensure every                                                                          and other garden materials.
resident gets the same quality of                                                                         Martin Poulter, Operational Support Manager,
housing services.                                                                                         said: "Gardening scheme members pay for its
The scheme, set to be published later                                                                     services direct from their rent and should never
this month, sets out how we are going                                                                     be asked to hand over cash.
to promote equality over the next three                                                                   "All of our workers, contractors and Gateshead
years.                                                                                                    Council employees carry identity cards, which they
It will affect both the services we offer                                                                 will always show before entering residents' homes."
to our customers, as well as the way we                                                                   A free ''No ID? No Way!' card is included with
recruit our own employees.                                                                                this newspaper.
These are not new priorities - we have been                                                               Extra copies are available from housing offices.
working towards equality since the company was
first set up.
We previously had equality schemes for disability,
race and gender, as well as plans for housing for    approach to equality, including sexual
older and young people, and procedures for           orientation, age and religion or belief.
dealing with issues such as harassment and           For more information about the scheme call the
violence.                                            company's Involvement Team on 0191 433 5357
What’s new is that we are now bringing all of        or e-mail involve@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
these together under a single scheme.                A draft scheme plan is also online at
We hope this will be easier to understand and        www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/
provide a broader range of information on our        singleequalityscheme

                                                                                                          Housing company on
Private landlords convicted                                                                               new Gas Safe
A Gateshead landlord has become the first            to apply for a licence for his property in the
to be convicted of renting out properties in         Sunderland Road area, near Gateshead town            Register
an area where a licence is required.                 centre.
Robert Wilson of St James’ Court, was found          The area is subject to a Selective Licensing         The housing company's contractors are now
guilty at Gateshead Magistrates' Court of failing    Scheme, which requires landlords to obtain           listed on the new 'Gas Safe' Register, which
                                                     licences to operate.                                 has replaced CORGI as the gas safety body.
                                                     Despite being contacted on numerous occasions        All Gas Safe registered engineers carry an ID card
                                                     and told his property was in a Selective Licensing   with their own unique licence number.
                                                     area, Mr Wilson repeatedly failed to submit an       The housing company always recommends
                                                     application.                                         residents check identity cards of anyone visiting
                                                     Gateshead magistrates fined him £615 and             their home. See the 'No ID? No way!' story
                                                     ordered him to pay costs of £245.                    above.

                                                     A second landlord, Attif Ashraf of Fenham,           The company's Gas Servicing Team is
                                                     Newcastle, was also found guilty of failing to       on 0191 433 5338, 0191 433 5341,
                                                     apply for a licence for his property in the          0191 433 5346 or by e-mailing
                                                     Sunderland Road area.                                gasservice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk

                                                     Mr Ashraf was fined £5,000, and he was ordered
                                                     to pay costs £332.52.
                                                     Gateshead's Landlord Licensing Scheme was
                                                     introduced in the Sunderland Road area in 2007
                                                     after Councillor Peter Mole MBE, who is now a
                                                     housing company Board member, led a
                                                     Gateshead Council has since issued almost 200
                                                     licences to landlords.
                                                     To find out more call the Private Rented
                                                     Sector Team on 0191 433 2880 or
                                                     0191 433 2793.

     Helping gardeners ‘spring’ into action
                                                  Many of our customers feel that their                 Environmental Services, Rae has much more time
                                                  neighbourhoods look much better if they               to look after his garden.
                                                  have well kept gardens on their estate.               But Rae will still be with us for forthcoming
                                                  The housing company set up a successful               editions of the newspaper, to help you look after
                                                  gardening scheme last year for tenants who can't      your garden.
                                                  manage their gardens and now over 800 tenants
                                                  receive regular tidy ups.                             And don't forget about our gardening scheme
                                                                                                        if you are unable to look after your garden.
                                                  Our gardening tips feature continues this issue
                                                  with advice for any ‘budding’ gardeners who           The company's scheme already helps over 830
                                                  would like to ‘spring’ into action.                   customers who are not able to manage a garden
                                                                                                        by themselves, mainly because of their age or
                                                  Rae Beckwith, our resident 'green-fingered'           disability.
                                                  expert, is back with some handy tips on keeping
                                                  your garden in order during spring.                   It has added extra places onto this year's scheme
                                                                                                        - see page 21 to find out more.
                                                  After his recent retirement from his role as
                                                  Area Manager for Gateshead Council's Local            Here are Rae's top four spring gardening tips:

                                                  Rae Beckwith, The Gateshead Housing Company’s gardening expert.

                   You should protect your plants against wildlife                         If you have snowdrops in your garden,
                   during spring, when the plants will be most                             now is the time to lift and divide them.

           1       vulnerable.
                   Chicken wire can be bought very cheaply at most
                   DIY stores and can be reused year after year – a
                                                                                 2         By taking small groups of snowdrops and
                                                                                           replanting them in separate location around
                                                                                           your garden, you can multiply the number
                   great way to protect costly plants at a minimal price.                  of flowers you get at no extra cost.

                                                                                           If you planted any pansies last October, now is
                   Now is also a good time to prune any climbing
                                                                                           the time they should be coming through.
                   or bush roses.
           3       By pruning your roses, their re-growth will be
                   much stronger and will produce better quality
                                                                                 4         One seed head from a pansy can be re-sown to
                                                                                           produce multiple plants, so keep an eye on your
                                                                                           budding flowers now to get a free garden full of
                                                                                           pansies next year.

       If you have a gardening question for Rae contact the News Team - see page 3 for their details.

                                  The Gateshead Housing Company

                                              of the

                              AW ards               2009

      Has someone brightened up your day,
         your week, or even your year?
                                                           The categories are:
Is there a group or organisation that have helped you       Good neighbour award
to enjoy life more, or made a difference to the lives of
people you know?                                            Young person’s award
The Heart of the Community Awards are your chance           Gateshead goes green award
to nominate a person or organisation you believe has        Organisation of the year award
made a difference to the lives of those around them.
                                                            Lifetime contribution award
Nominations will be open throughout the year, with
residents across the whole borough then deciding the
                                                            Making a difference award
overall winners.
As well as receiving the award, each category winner
will also win a top prize.

To find out more call:
0191 433 5357 or e-mail
 gains Respect
     Over the past two years, the housing                 What is the Respect Standard for Housing
     company has been working to reduce                   The Respect Standard sets out six core commitments,
     anti-social behaviour across the borough.            which deliver a proactive response to anti-social
                                                          behaviour and aim to create a culture of respect.
     One important aspect of that work has
                                                          Our tenants and leaseholders gave their approval
     been the company’s commitment to the                 of the agenda at 2007’s Annual Conference, with
     ‘Respect Agenda’.                                    the company signing up to the agenda soon after.

                        What’s Respect about?
      The Respect drive is a Government strategy to       We are committed to:
      tackle bad behaviour and nurture good - to help     • Accountability, leadership and commitment
      create the modern culture of respect.
                                                          • Empowering and reassuring tenants
      It is about Central Government, local agencies,
      local communities and ultimately every citizen
                                                          • Prevention and early intervention
      working together to build a society in which we     • Tailored services for residents and support for
      can respect one another.                              victims and witnesses
      Where anti-social behaviour is rare and tackled     • Protecting communities through swift
      effectively, and communities can live in peace        enforcement
      together.                                           • Support to tackle the causes of
                                                            anti-social behaviour.

      Our commitment to the Agenda:                       • We offer free mediation services to prevent the
                                                            escalation of anti-social behaviour
      • We hold Estate Tours with residents to identify   • We have a Young Person’s officer dedicated to
        possible estate improvements                        preventing young people from committing
      • We developed a Mental Health Worker post            anti-social behaviour
        within the company to support vulnerable          • Between April and December 2008, we carried out
        victims and perpetrators of anti-social             one legal action every two days to help protect
        behaviour                                           and support residents from anti-social behaviour.

                                                                        What are
                                                                        we doing?

                                                   Residents from the Hallgarth Estate in Winlaton take part in one of the
                                                   many clean up days organised by the company.

• We publicise the actions we take to tackle          approved our Anti-social Behaviour Strategy
  anti-social behaviour                               and are involved in our future development
• In Partnership with Safer Gateshead we host
  an annual event to thank residents who have      • We involve residents in community clean up
  taken a stand against anti-social behaviour -       events across the borough to help them play
  see story below                                     an active role in improving the own area
• We have developed a Service Improvement          • We produced a guide to the Anti-social
  Group of tenants who have informed and              Behaviour Service and the tools we use.

   heroes earn
                                                                                                               ct award
                                                                                        ion receive their Respe
                                                   The Argyle Estate Residents' Associat cillor Joe Mitchinson.
                                                                       puty Mayor, Coun
                                                   from Gateshead's De

Gateshead residents have been honoured for         by securing funding to develop a new park.
taking a stand against anti-social behaviour.      Association members open and close the park
Twelve individuals and five local groups, who      each day and control the use of the multi-use
have all done something to halt or prevent anti-   games and play areas.
social behaviour in their community, were          They also report any anti-social behaviour in and
recognised at a special ceremony at Gateshead      around the estate.
Civic Centre.
                                                   The group received their award for creating a
Among those who received an award was the          stronger community spirit, which has greatly
Argyle Estate Residents’ Association.              reduced vandalism and disorder on the estate.
The group of 175 town-centre based residents       The awards were sponsored by The Gateshead
worked together to tackle anti-social behaviour    Housing Company and Gateshead Council.

Need funds for a community project?

                                                     The Gateshead Housing Company Community
                                                     Fund will make awards of £500 to £10,000 of
                                                     cash and 'in-kind' work to projects that:
                                                     I   Improve the lives of young people or
  The Gateshead Housing Company                          older residents
     Community fund                                  I   Be environmentally friendly
     ‘BRINGING COMMUNITIES TOGETHER’                 I   Benefit a whole estate or neighbourhood.

To find out more log onto www.communityfoundation.org.uk, where you can download information and
              application forms. You can also: e-mail: general@communityfoundation.org.uk
  Write to: Community Foundation, Cale Cross, 156 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon, Tyne NE1 6SU.
                                  Tel: 0191 222 0945. Fax: 0191 230 0689.

                   supported by

                                                                                   administrated by
                                                                                                            Review of 'hour'
New guide will help                                                                                         services
domestic abuse victims                                                                                      With the involvement of tenants, we are
                                                                                                            currently reviewing telephone services to
The Gateshead Housing Company has                     Cases involving domestic abuse will be treated as     report repairs and make general enquiries in
launched a new online guide at                        high priority and will be responded to within 24      the evening or on Saturday mornings.
www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/violence to                hours by the company's Neighbourhood
                                                                                                            Currently telephone services are provided until
tackle domestic abuse.                                Relations Team.
                                                                                                            8pm each weekday night and Saturdays until
Typically domestic abuse involves a systematic        Bill Fullen, Chief Executive of the housing           noon.
pattern of behaviour that can include physical or     company, said: "We will not tolerate domestic
sexual assaults, emotional abuse, isolation,                                                                As part of the review, tenants told us they value
                                                      abuse, and we are committed to tackling it with
   economic abuse, threats, stalking or                                                                     being able to contact the company in the
                                                      the help of our employees and other agencies,
                                   intimidation.                                                            evening and on Saturday mornings.
                                                      such as Gateshead Council and the police."
                                                                                                            Customers also advised us they prefer to make
                                                      In the past year, the company has given domestic
                                                                                                            contact by telephone before 7pm and on
                                                      abuse training to its employees and produced an
                                                                                                            Saturday mornings.
                                                      online and printed guide, showing how it can
                                                      help victims.                                         In addition, customers have told us that they
                                                                                                            would like to see more calls answered at the
                                                      The mini guide, small enough to fit inside a
                                                                                                            peak daytimes in the HomeRepairs service.
                                                      pocket or bag, also includes information about
                                                      staying safe online if victims are thinking of        The review is looking at costs of providing the
                                                      reporting abuse by e-mail or the internet.            evening and weekend service, as well as the
                                                                                                            views of customers, with any improvements
                                                      The guide is available at housing offices or online
                                                                                                            introduced in July.
                                                        at www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/violence
                                                                                                            If you would like to give your views and
                                                        Residents wanting to report any type of anti-
                                                                                                            help us to improve telephone services then
                                                        social behaviour should contact their housing
                                                                                                            please contact Sam Shanks on 0191 433 8966
                                                        office or call 0191 433 5327, Monday to Friday
                                                                                                            or e-mail samanthashanks@
                                                        until 8pm and on Saturdays until noon.
                                                       Abuse can also be reported online at
                                                       www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/asb or by
                                                       e-mailing nrt@gatesheadhousing.co.uk

Keeping in touch
with our tenants                                                                                            New look for
We have visited over 1,500 tenants aged                                                                     housing organisation
over 75 this year, who live alone in homes
not covered by sheltered scheme services.                                                                   The organisation behind the regeneration of
'Contact Visits' were developed with customer                                                               homes in both Newcastle and Gateshead
involvement and have been a great opportunity                                                               has unveiled its new look.
to talk to older tenants to ensure they                                                                     Bridging NewcastleGateshead (BNG) is a Housing
receive appropriate housing and support                                                                     Market Renewal Pathfinder set up by the
services.                                                                                                   Government to tackle low demand and
Estate Officers have helped 150 tenants get                                                                 abandoned housing.
services such as shopping, cleaning, gardening,                                                             The housing company and Gateshead Council
housing options and benefits advice.                                                                        are both working closely with BNG to improve
The visits have also enabled us to seek tenants'                                                            housing quality and choice.
views on service improvements, and discuss ways       The success of the visits has led to an expansion     Its work in Gateshead has seen major changes to
to get involved, including our 'Moving Forward'       of the scheme. This year we'll be aim to do           housing in and around the Sunderland Road
training programme.                                   around 2,000 visits, across a range of tenants of     area.
Many compliments about the new service have           all ages who may need support.                        The company also launched its new website
been received from tenants and their families,        But please be wary of imposters: all housing          at www.bridgingng.org.uk as part of the
including:                                            company employees will carry official                 new look.
• “I really appreciate you calling to see how I am.   identification on them, so always ask to see a
  What a nice thing to do” - a central Gateshead      visitor's ID badge - remember "No ID? No way!”
  tenant                                              For further information on the Customer
• “I'm glad you called as it makes me feel like       Contact Visits please contact your nearest
  someone cares” - an inner west tenant.              housing office.

      How to contact The Gateshead Housing Company
Housing offices
Dunston - Dunston Activity Centre - Ellison Road, Dunston, Gateshead, NE11 9SS. Tel: 0191 433 8888. Fax: 0191 488 7652.
Minicom: 0191 433 5349. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start with ENQ). E-mail: dunstonoffice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
Felling - Booth Street, Felling, Gateshead, NE10 9EW. Tel: 0191 433 8080. Fax: 0191 433 8077.
Minicom: 0191 433 5349. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start with ENQ). E-mail: fellingoffice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
Gateshead Civic Centre - Central - Regent Street, Gateshead, NE8 1HH. Tel: 0191 433 2730. Fax: 0191 477 8373.
Minicom: 0191 433 5349. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start with ENQ). E-mail: centraloffice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
Gateshead Council @ Birtley - 16 Durham Road, Birtley, DH3 1LE. Tel: 0191 433 6102. Fax: 0191 433 6127.
Minicom: 0191 433 5349. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start with ENQ). E-mail: birtleyoffice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
Gateshead Council @ Blaydon - 5 Wesley Court, Blaydon, Gateshead, NE21 5BT. Tel: 0191 433 6202. Fax: 0191 433 6227.
Minicom: 0191 433 5349. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start with ENQ). E-mail: blaydonoffice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
Gateshead Council @ Leam Lane - 129 Cotemede, Leam Lane, Gateshead, NE10 8QH. Tel: 0191 433 5888. Fax: 0191 433 5885.
Minicom: 0191 433 5349. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start with ENQ). E-mail: leamlaneoffice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
Wrekenton - 143-145 High Street, Wrekenton, Gateshead, NE9 7JR. Tel: 0191 433 5822. Fax: 0191 433 5833.
Minicom: 0191 433 5349. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start with ENQ). E-mail: wrekentonoffice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
Offices at Felling, Gateshead Civic Centre, Leam Lane and Wrekenton are open from: Monday - 8.45am to 5pm; Tuesday - 8.45am to 5pm;
Wednesday - 8.45am to 3.45pm; Thursday - 8.45am to 5pm; and Friday - 8.45am to 4.30pm.
Offices at Birtley, Blaydon and Dunston are open from: Monday - 9am to 5pm; Tuesday - 9am to 5pm; Wednesday - 9am to 3.45pm;
Thursday - 9am to 5pm; and Friday - 9am to 4.30pm.
Please note: Cash counters open at 9am and close 30 minutes before the times above.
HomeRepairs                           Open till 8pm weekdays, until noon on Saturdays and 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for genuine emergencies.
                                      Call: 0800 408 6008. Fax: 0191 433 5496. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with REPAIR).
                                      E-mail: repairs@gatesheadhousing.co.uk Web: www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/homerepairs
HomeChoice                            Call: 0191 433 5345. Fax: 0191 433 5343. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with CBL).
                                      E-mail: homechoice@gatesheadhousing.co.uk Web: www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/homechoice

For training and quality purposes, all calls to The Gateshead Housing Company's HomeChoice, HomeRepairs and out of hours services are recorded and
may be monitored in order to assess and improve our service to the public.

Useful housing company contacts
Rent advice                           Birtley, Felling, Leam Lane, Low Fell, Old Fold, Springwell and Wrekenton
                                      Call: 0191 433 5811. Fax: 0191 433 5833. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with RENT).
                                      E-mail rentenquirieses@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                      Dunston, Sheriff Hill, Teams, Town centre and Whickham
                                      Call: 0191 433 2685. Fax: 0191 433 3858. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with RENT).
                                      E-mail: rentenquiriescw@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                      Blaydon, Highfield and Ryton
                                      Call: 0191 433 6235. Fax: 0191 433 6227. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with RENT).
                                      E-mail: rentenquiriescw@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                      Former tenants Call: 0191 433 5363/5364. Fax: 0191 433 5469. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with RENT).
                                      E-mail: rentenquiries@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                      Web: www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/rent Web: www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/benefits
Decent Homes Teams                    Central and West Call: 0191 433 5410. Fax: 0191 433 5469. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with FHM).
                                      E-mail: fhm@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                      South Call: 0191 433 5460. Fax: 0191 433 5469. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with MORR).
                                      E-mail: morrison@gatesheadhousing.co.uk
                                      East and Inner West Call: 0191 433 5450. Fax: 0191 433 5469. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with LES).
                                      E-mail: les@gatesheadhousing.co.uk Web: www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/decenthomes
Neighbourhood Nuisance                Call: 0191 433 5327. Fax: 0191 433 5331. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with ASB).
                                      E-mail: nrt@gatesheadhousing.co.uk Web: www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/asb
Involvement Team                      Call: 0191 433 5357. Fax: 0191 433 5354. Text: 0762 480 4167 (start text with INVOLVE).
                                      E-mail: involve@gatesheadhousing.co.uk Web: www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk/involve
Using a Minicom or textphone?         You can contact any of the company’s offices or services by calling 0191 433 5349.
Our out-of hours service can answer housing enquiries up to 8pm Monday to Friday or until noon on Saturdays.

Other useful contacts
Gateshead Council’s Benefit Enquiries           Call: 0191 433 4646. E-mail: benefitenquiries@gateshead.gov.uk
Gateshead Council Bulky Waste Service           Call: 0191 433 7000. Fax: 0191 478 1138. E-mail: enquiries.localenvservices@gateshead.gov.uk
Gateshead Police                                Call: 0191 454 7555.
  Not a rent sinner?
   You could be a

          It pays to pay
your rent -  see page 14
                                         Small fish in
                                         a big pond?

Help for tenants                                                 Some assistance may be available to tenants
                                                                 who would consider downsizing if:

looking to downsize
their home
Gateshead Council has approved a new scheme to help tenants in larger properties to downsize their home.

Help, advice and financial assistance
will be available to support the move.
                                          Are there any
                                          restrictions on property                                     Choice

That sounds like a good
idea. What do I get in
return?                                                                How can I find out
                                          How will I know which
                                          homes are available?               Choice

£1,000? How can this                         Choice
be spent?

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