Open House The Vale Housing Association’s Newsletter
Getting Involved: page 3 • Need Careers Advice?: page 4 • Staying Warm: page 7
The Vale Housing Association would like to wish all its
tenants a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Cheers - Celebration of new affordable housing
New technology is helping receive power this way if necessary and so they
The Vale Housing can sell extra energy back if they generate more
Association to cut tenants’ than is needed.
fuel bills. This year we
have installed This is one of many initiatives for Vale Housing
“photovoltaic cells”, Association tenants. This autumn we celebrated the
which convert sunlight completion of 24 new homes for rent in Grove.
into energy, on the rooves The houses and flats are built on the site of the old
of three new properties and four existing homes. Yoplait Dairy site, as part of the larger development
The cells mean that these homes, which are in built by Berkeley Homes. Councillors, staff and
Sutton Courtenay and Childrey, can benefit from tenants celebrated the opening in October. The site
free electricity. They are still connected to the also includes two flats built for shared ownership,
electricity network so that they can continue to where people part-rent and part-buy their home.
( AREA OFFICES: Abingdon – (01235) 536001 Wantage – (01235) 760007
News on rents
Next years rent increases for the majority of tenants (almost 1/3rd of total) will face no increase at all.
will be on average around £3.84 per week. This
follows Government guidance that rents should In late February we will be writing to everyone to let
increase by no more than inflation (2.8%) plus 1/2% them know what their individual rent will be, and
plus a maximum of £2.00 per week. this will include information about charges for other
services. If you have any questions about this article
For tenants who are already paying higher rents, please contact Steve Russell, Director of Finance
which are closer to the government’s target, average and Administration, on 01235 536001.
increases will be below £1. Over 1500 tenants
An Inspector Calls Free Education Courses
We have now been inspected by the Audit Once again the Vale Housing Association is offering
Commission, who are responsible for judging how free computer courses - this time in Abingdon.
good housing associations are at providing services. The Abingdon Family Centre, based
at Caldecott School, is hosting a course of ten
While the Audit Commission were with us they beginner computer sessions run by Abingdon and
spoke to staff and tenants, visited repair work Witney College. The course is for anyone who
which had been recently carried out and met with wants to help a child or grandchild with computing
groups of tenants to talk about the services that work or would just like to get started
they receive. Thanks to all those tenants who gave on the computer. It will be held every Thursday
up their time to speak to them. afternoon from 1.00 till 3.00 from 22nd January
until 1st April, with a break for half-term.
We have now got back the first results of this To register on the course or to find out more contact
inspection. On the whole they are happy with how Christine Long on 01235 216269.
we work. Areas which they particularly praised
were the “floating support” service we provide to
some tenants to help them keep their tenancy
conditions, ways we involve tenants in our services
and the helpful attitude of our staff. They have
also recommended some areas to improve.
A full report will be produced by the Audit
Commission soon and sent out to all our tenants.
This autumn we have introduced a new computer In particular it means that we have addressed the
system and all staff have been trained in this. We issue of making sure that people in one part of the
are sorry if this has caused any delays but the new organisation have a better idea of what is
system will mean we have more efficient ways of happening in other departments.
dealing with your enquiries in the future.
2 ( REPAIRS HOTLINE: Abingdon Area – (0845) 450 8241
Tenant Forums Day– Have Your
The last forum meetings met with an external Say and win a £20 prize
consultant who is helping us take a long hard look
at how well we listen to our tenants. It’s part of a We are planning a tenants event – a chance for
process where we will ask “Do we offer you ample tenants to get together for some fun social activities
opportunity to have your say ?” and “How would and to help shape some of the Association’s policies.
you like to get involved?” We will be organising this jointly with Soha housing.
But if you have any ideas on how we can improve We are currently planning what form the event will
on our listening to tenants please get in touch with take and when is the best time to hold it. For the
us or speak directly to our advisor, David Williams first time we are giving you the chance to send us
on Freephone 0800 0855 492 your comments by text message.
The next tenant forums are: The question we want your views on is:
Wantage/Faringdon Area – The next meeting will “What time do you think would be best to hold a
be held on Monday 5th January at 7.00pm at the tenant event in order that the maximum number
British Legion Hall in East Challow. There will be of people can attend?”
a question and answer session with James Rippin
from the Wantage office. All you have to do is text us on 07787 556357 with
Abingdon – The next meeting will be held on one of the answers below. The possible times we
Wednesday 7th January at 7.00pm at the VHA could hold an event are:
offices on the Vineyard. The speaker will be from
Neighbourhood Watch. Easter holidays – text “Easter”
Evening event – text “evening”
Saturday event – text “Saturday”
Tenant Participation Compact Weekday event – text “weekday”
A compact has now been agreed between staff If you have any ideas for what workshops or events
and tenants at The Vale Housing Association. you would like to see at the Open Day then please
This sets out ways in which tenants can make their text us these too!
opinions known or get involved with groups. More
details will be available in future newsletters but Alternatively let us know your views by emailing,
if you would like a full copy of the compact writing or phoning us using the contact details on
please get in touch. the back page.
We’ll carry out a prize draw from all the answers we
receive – with a gift voucher of £20 up for grabs.
We are also looking for residents and young people
who can demonstrate a skill or craft eg. renovating
furniture, making birthday cards etc or can run a
workshop. If you can help with this, please leave
your name and address when you contact us.
Tenants having a say in the association
Wantage & Faringdon Area – (0845) 450 8242 3
Need Careers Advice? Is your fridge
A Guest Article from the IAG behaving badly?
Are you looking for advice on learning and A scheme helping people get rid of their old
work? The Oxfordshire Information, Advice fridges and freezers for new, more energy-efficient,
and Guidance group can provide FREE and ones is being restarted, following the sucess of a
impartial advice on learning and work to all similar project run a few years ago. This enables
adults across Oxfordshire. This includes people who are in receipt of certain benefits to
help with job-hunting, job applications and exchange their old, inefficient fridge or fridge-
CV writing and interview skills. We have a freezer for a brand new highly efficient one for £50
comprehensive careers library and provide (£75 for a fridge-freezer). Not only will the new
access to IT resources and the internet. For fridge/fridge-freezers help to protect the
information or to book an appointment environment, but it can also save you up to £46 per
please contact one of our trained advisors. year on your energy bills.
For Abingdon and Vale area call Gill on To qualify your old appliance must be in working
01235 524841 or email on gcoupe@cfbt- order. For a small charge the scheme will also
hq.org.uk or for South Oxfordshire/Didcot remove it for you.
area call Jacqui on 01235 813115 or email
on firstname.lastname@example.org Application forms are available in our offices,
from scheme managers or by contacting Sian
Llewellyn on 01235 536001.
How Close should Community Grant
you Plant that Tree?
New laws are soon being introduced to make sure
We still have money
that leylandii and other fast - growing trees, which
available for projects or
grow dangerously fast, are kept under control.
groups who benefit the
community in some
Full grown trees can block out light and their
way. We can award up
roots can damage the drainage and foundations
to £150 to tenants or to
of buildings. There are simple guidelines to follow
groups which work
if you want to plant a tree. The chart below shows
with our tenants to make a difference in some way
how close to a building you should plant each
type of tree.
So far the grants we have given have helped:
1 The Faringdon Community Bus to provide
clamps for wheelchairs in the bus
2 A tenant who wanted a strimmer to tidy
up a piece of communal land
3 A senior citizens club
If you feel that you would qualify for one of
these grants please contact Emily Griffith on
4 ( REPAIRS HOTLINE: Abingdon Area – (0845) 450 8241
Are you suffering from harassment?
The Vale Housing Association is opposed to all There are also other places you can turn to for
forms of harassment and will do everything in its help. These helplines offer specialist advice on
power to protect our tenants against harassment. harassment problems:
If you are receiving abuse or persecution from
anyone, whether it is racial or for any other reason Racial Harassment hotline: 01865 815126
then contact your area office and the police. We will Victim Support hotline: 01865 751511
respond to your problem within one working day.
Glorious gardens Do something amazing
Congratulations to Mrs McMahon of West Hill in Setting aside some of your time to give
Wantage who was one of the entrants in this year's blood could make an amazing
garden competition. Although she did not win one difference to somebody. It could
of our main prizes we were still impressed by the even save a life. Clinics are held
effort she had put in to transforming her garden. at many local centres in
Oxfordshire. To find out where
The photos below are "before and after" shots, your nearest blood donation
showing how far Mrs McMahon went to produce a centre is phone 0845 7 711 711
lovely garden. or look up the website on
Action on Flytipping - Reward of £100
Residents of Ock
Street flats and
flats in Abingdon
Before people dumping
near their homes.
Flytipping is unsightly and dangerous and the
Association seeks to take action against it
where possible. If you are prepared to act as
a witness against someone who is dumping
items you could be entitled to a £100 reward -
for further information call David Rundle on
01235 536001 or Phil Small on 01235 548600.
If you call out of office hours leave a message
and we’ll be in touch.
Wantage & Faringdon Area – (0845) 450 8242 5
Christmas card A Christmas thought.....
competition This poem was contributed by an Abingdon
tenant, Mrs Crellin, who is a member of our
As part of the seasonal spirit we are running a Editorial Team:
Christmas card competition, available to children
Another year has come and gone
and adults. Cards can be made in any way and on
Another milestone's past
any material. A prize will be given to the best
And may each year as it goes by
entry in the following categories:
Be better than the last
Adult Neighbourhood Wardens
The deadline for entries is Friday 19th December. In South Abingdon
Send your entries in to Christmas Card
Competition, The Old Maltings, Vineyard, Since its launch in June 2001, the Vale of White
Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 3UG or drop them in at Horse District Council’s Neighbourhood Warden
one of our reception areas. scheme in South Abingdon (the area south of Ock
Street) has been a huge success with some types of
crime being reduced by over 50%.
Parking problems Our Housing Manager David Rundle visited the
South Abingdon neighbourhood wardens, David
Several tenants have complained that caravans have
Coates and Richard Baker, to find out more about
been parked in spaces meant only for cars. We
what they do. The wardens provide information to
have also recieved complaints about people parking
residents wanting to know about council-related
their cars on grassed areas. We are aware that in
matters whilst keeping in contact with the Vale
some places parking is limited but please be
CCTV control room at the police station. The
considerate towards other people when parking.
Neighbourhood Wardens cycle round the area in a
distinctive uniform as this allows them to be easily
Congratulations! The Neighbourhood Wardens can be contacted
by calling their office on 01235 554783; by
Congratulations to mobile phone on 07909 535558 (David Coates)
Frank Isahak, who or 07884 235622 (Richard Baker) or by stopping
has been awarded David or Richard in the street.
“Black Writer of the
Year” award from the
has recently become
one of our tenant
board members, and
will help to run our
tenant forum for the
Housing Manager David Rundle finds out more
Abingdon area. Frank with his award about being a neighbourhood warden
6 ( REPAIRS HOTLINE: Abingdon Area – (0845) 450 8241
Stay Warm, Stay Healthy –
Tips For Keeping Warm This Winter
Winter can be a dangerous time as the cold weather • Eating properly plays a big part in keeping warm
can make you more vulnerable to chest infections and and well. During cold weather, hot meals every day
other conditions. As a result of the icy and wet and regular hot drinks will give you extra warmth
surfaces you are more at risk of falling and if your and energy.
body is cold, your muscles react more slowly which • Make sure you have had your flu jab if you are over
may make it harder for you stop a fall if you slip. 65 or suffer from chronic heart, chest or kidney
Following the steps below should help you to reduce complaints or diabetes. Contact your GP for more
the risk of this happening to you: information.
• It is essential to keep warm at home. The general • Make sure you know how the controls work on
principle is that you should keep the temperature in your heating system. If you are having problems
your living room at around 21ºC (70ºF) and all other using your heating please contact Vale Heating Care
rooms in use at 18ºC (64ºF). on 0845 450 8243.
• Around the home, dress for warmth and comfort – • For more information about keeping warm this
several thinner layers of clothing are better than one winter, call the Winter Warmth Advice Line on
or two thick layers. Long-sleeved and thermal Freephone 0800 085 7000 Textphone: 0800 085 7857
underwear helps keep you warmer. A thin silky scarf Monday to Friday 8am-8pm
or neckerchief worn inside the collar will help keep
your neck and shoulders warm. We have recently completed our Affordable Warmth
• Outdoors, take care to dress for the weather and Strategy which explains what we intend to do to help
wrap up warmly. Up to half of body heat is lost our tenants afford to heat their homes to a comfortable
through the head, so a hat or headscarf is essential. level. Copies will be available shortly from Sian
Llewellyn who can be contacted on 01235 536001.
Planning for a Power Cut Burst Pipes
The National Grid has warned of the chance of Burst pipes can cause havoc once
power cuts this winter. Here is some advice to the cold water sets in. To stop this
help you prepare for and deal with one. from happening to you check your
stopcocks (both internal and external)
1. Make sure that you have some candles and before winter starts. If they are difficult to turn off
something to light them with to hand and on, don’t force them. Please ring our Customer
2. Keep a torch in an easy to find place so that Services at Hanney and request a plumber to come
you can find things that you need. and check them out. Doing this check could prevent
3. Make sure that you have plenty of warm a major flood in the event of a freeze up.
clothes and blankets available – most of our
heating systems, even those that use gas, rely For Sale or Exchange
on electricity in some way. Do you have something you would like to sell or
4. In case there is long power cut, make sure that exchange for something else? We can offer free
you have some food in stock that can be eaten advertising in this newsletter to any of our tenants
cold or, if you have it, cooked using gas. who have clothes, furniture, childrens toys or other
5. If there is a power cut and your heating is out second-hand items they no longer need. The next
keep all your curtains closed and use a gas fire newsletter will go out in March – to place your
if you have one. Try to stay in one room with advert please contact Emily Griffith using the
the doors closed so that the heat doesn’t escape. contact information on the back page.
Wantage & Faringdon Area – (0845) 450 8242 7
In keeping with the festive season we have
produced a Christmas-themed “spot-the-difference”
competition for this edition. Can you spot the five Spot the difference
differences between these two Christmas scenes?
All correct entries will be placed in a prize draw
with a £20 gift voucher for the lucky winner.
Return your completed puzzles to:
Emily Griffith at the address at the
bottom of the page.
Enclosed with this newsletter is a copy of your tenants
charter, which explains what your rights are as a tenant.
Vale Housing Association Cash Office Opening Times
Area Offices: Faringdon, Corn Exchange 9am–12.30pm, Mon–Fri
Old Maltings, Abingdon (01235) 536001 Wantage, Church Street 9am–2pm, Mon–Fri
Church Street, Wantage (01235) 760007 Abingdon, Old Maltings 9am–4pm, Mon–Fri
Abingdon Area 0845 450 8241 Abingdon (01235) 555959
Wantage & Faringdon Area 0845 450 8242 Didcot (01235) 512929
Vale Heating Care 0845 450 8243 Wantage and Faringdon (01235) 776000
(out-of-hours) 0845 450 8244 District Councils
Vale of White Horse (01235 520202)
Web Site http://www.vale-housing.co.uk South Oxfordshire (01491 823000)
West Oxfordshire (01993 702941)
Area Offices email@example.com Your Tenant Editorial Team:
firstname.lastname@example.org Write care of Emily Griffith,
Repairs email@example.com Communications & Research Manager,
Rents firstname.lastname@example.org The Vale Housing Association, The Old Maltings,
Vineyard, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 3UG
Tenant Representatives Tel: 01235 536001
Frank Isahak Abingdon Town (01235) 522200 Email: email@example.com
Barbara Russell, Rural Areas (01865) 820030
Ray Morse, Wantage/Faringdon Area This newsletter is available in other languages
(01235) 764082 Italian – Questa bollettino e anche
Violet Goodall, Wantage/Faringdon area disponibile in Italiano
(01793) 783487 Chinese –