SU m u Bu Iss M p e Nexus M er ER Connects Summer 2009 Published by Nexus Housing in partnership with the Customer Newsletter Panel CHEQUE IT OUT Lowesmoor House and Chalverton Court have both received £120 Community Funding from Nexus Housing Association to help buy equipment for members of the residents’ Extend fitness classes. Brian Hunt, a Customer Panel member and classes at Lowesmoor House and Chalverton fitness trainer for the senior citizens of the two Court are pictured here with Nexus Customer schemes, had successfully secured the funds. Involvement Officer, Lindon Morgan and Brian The residents attending the ‘Extend’ fitness Hunt and their cheques. GIVING YOU A OPENING TIMES GREAT DEAL Please note our offices will close for the August Bank Holiday from 5pm on All West Mercia residents – and that Friday 28th August until 9am on includes Nexus residents – are entitled Tuesday 1st September. to discount at selected Jewsons and Dulux Decorator Our normal office opening times are Centres. 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. All you have to do is use We are not available between ‘thegooddealcard’ that 2pm and 3pm you will find inside this issue. every Thursday due to staff training. To activate your card simply fill in your name, address and If you have an emergency If your card goes missing contact contact details and take it with Katie Summers on repair to report while our office ! you when you go shopping, together with additional proof 01527 556404 or email: is closed please call of your address to be sure you firstname.lastname@example.org can use the card. 0845 600 Jrust Please find enclosed in your Bumper Summer Nexus Connects a fun activity comic for the 3441 fo kids younger readers to enjoy this Summer! Please place into recycling when you have finished reading, thank you Harden Housing Association, Kemble Housing, Nexus Housing, Herefordshire Supported Housing for Young People Project and Whitefriars Housing Group are members of West Mercia Housing Group NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 DOWN YOUR WAY Find out about the schemes lWhere is it? Close to the city centre, on the site PORCELAIN WAY WORCESTER the Association manages of a former Worcester porcelain factory. and hear from the people lWhat does it consist of? Modern new build flats who live in them. and houses. A variety of rented, leaseholder and shared ownership properties. lWhen was it built? In 2008. It is now home to at least 50 Nexus customers. Amongst those who can remember how the site was is Mr Bill Stickland, formerly head of security at the factory which had stood on the site. On the day we visited, Bill was taking a trip down memory lane with his wife Beryl and granddaughter Eloise, reminiscing about the old porcelain factory and his days Above: Lindon Morgan, as head of security patrolling Customer Involvement Officer with Bill Stickland and his the site. family lWhat is it like to live there? community spirit. The Keith Mousley, one of our first customers to move development is perfectly into the development and Chair of the Worcester nestled between the River Porcelain Residents Group, said; Seven and the canal, “I would describe Worcester Porcelain as being a providing tranquility and modern, clean living environment, attracting people relaxation from the hectic with a universal desire to create a strong positive working environment.” Lindon takes a walk around the scheme with Keith Mousley Would you like to nominate your scheme for ‘Down Your Way’? If so, please contact your Housing Officer. Tel: 01905 342600 or email: email@example.com WELCOME MAINTENANCE MAESTROS Our dedicated Repairs Service Team looks after Heading up the Team is Repairs Service TO LINDON all maintenance work, kitchens, bathrooms, cyclical updating (such as painting), aids and Manager, Nick Howland; Maintenance Officer Tom Hughes, Maintenance Surveyors, Ben A warm welcome to Lindon adaptations and any works required between Hughes and Ian Chuter and Administrator, homes becoming empty (void) and being relet. Carly Ruddock. Morgan who joined Nexus Housing Association at the beginning of June as our Customer Involvement Officer. He was a ALL IN A DAY FOR police officer for fourteen years and THE MAINTENANCE TEAM qualified as a specialist Monday 8th June Tuesday 9th June Anti-Social 09.00 – Review Gas Certification process to 09.00 – 17.00 – College.The association is an Behaviour ensure it meets West Mercia Housing Group ‘Investor in People’ and Ben Hughes, Officer. and Nexus Procedures. Like all landlords, we Maintenance Surveyor is studying for a HNC in Most of his experience have a legal duty to service all gas fires, water Construction. has been heaters and boilers in our homes every year. Wednesday 10th June gained 11.00 – Pre-inspection of ‘Void’ properties to 09.00 - Review Aids and Adaptations to make within allocate any works required to contractors to sure we are providing a good service both in Midlands inner city areas, and he was ensure they meet our lettable standard. the office and onsite with residents, contractors nominated for the outstanding individual and Occupational Therapists. Aids and achievement award with Redditch 14.00 – Review Cyclical Painting Adaptations, such as handrails, special Borough Council in 2008. Programme. Painting showers and stair lifts, make life easier for Lindon is currently working on a customers who need them. is carried out at five- number of new projects, including the planning and organising of our first year intervals for 12.00 – Carry out pre-inspection to Nexus Customer Conference. He has outside woodwork analysis defects within our properties, already met many of our customers and and ten-year intervals accompanied by Housing Officers and is hoping to meet more in the coming for stairways and contractors. months. lobby walls in blocks 15.00 – Planned Maintenance Programme of flats. allocation. All work is tendered to ensure If you would like to get involved in 16.00 – Check value for money and quality of work. helping to develop any of our emails – liaise with 16.00 – Authorise invoices and monitor services contact Lindon Morgan colleagues and contractor performance. on 01905 342600. contractors. 2 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 GREEN SPOT FOR ‘GOODNESS’ SAKE, BECOME A COMPOSTER Composting is not only great for Simply: 3. It takes about 9-12 months, but when your 1. Site your compost contents have turned into a crumbly, gardens, it’s good for the composter in a dark material resembling, thick, moist soil, it is environment. sunny spot, and ready to use, your flowers, vegetables and on bare soil if other plants will love it! By sorting out your waste into the compost or possible green waste bins supplied by your local council Help on hand you are helping to cut down the amount that 2. Fill with anything from Heaps of sites offer tips on how to make, care for goes to general landfill. vegetable and and use compost. One of the most popular is the Experts reckon that around 40 per cent of the BBC’s gardening site fruit peelings to average dustbin contents are suitable for home www.bbc.co.uk/gardening grass cuttings, composting – and that’s a lot of goodness that can teabags, toilet Search for compost and you can even take part in be recycled! roll tubes, a Hurl-a-Heap game! Make your own cereal boxes and If you do have room to compost at home, it is eggshells. (Do not compost cooked food, meat Contact your local council for further or fish - some council composters can cope with information on composting and not a complex process. You can either make your these because of the very high temperatures recycling in your area. own compost container or buy one. they reach, but home composting cannot). COMPOST WORD ! SEARCH All you have to do is find the 12 items you would find in a compost bin in the word search. As you look for the hidden words, remember that they can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, forward or backward. T P A S S A R G Q A P I GROW A E W E E D S A D U A S YOUR F E A T W B A O A R P S OWN L L G E B O O A S U E D HERB O W I N G A A B A W W O A L L W B A M T R A R A GARDEN Are you E R G S S S A G A H E A W A A U I A I U W A O B ready for S Z A A T G S G E A A F R A A R O R O F D A D R digital TV? Fill in the entry form and return it Results of an initial survey to determine how many X G D C A B B A G E S A by Friday, 25th September 2009 for the chance to win this of our residents are ready for digital TV are currently E A S S T S U D W A S C stylish kitchen window box herb garden. being assessed, and a second Send your entry to: phase of consultation CABBAGE EGGSHELLS FRUIT GRASS Richard Hancock, ! will take place later this year. Customer Involvement CARDBOARD FLOWERS WEEDS PAPER Officer, West Mercia Housing Work is expected to begin Group, Barnsley Hall, TEABAGS SAWDUST PEELINGS WOOD Barnsley Hall Road, next spring to help all Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, our residents make B61 0TX. sure they are ready Entry Name Address Closing date is for digital TV by the end of 2010. Form Postcode Friday 25th September 2009 For more information contact the Nexus Maintenance Team on 01905 342 600 3 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT At your Service We are improving the way in which we look after gas appliances for all our residents. An annual service of all gas appliances is a legal The Group Joint Customer Panel visit Whitefriars offices in Coventry before going on a stock tour obligation for all landlords and we have been working hard with our contractor Status Heating The ‘Group Joint Customer Panel’ a key role in helping us to achieve more to make sure that not only can we carry out all the continues to make great strides forwards. It is consistency across the Group as well as service checks, but that the right numbers of made up of involved customers from all of our improving services. engineers are available during winter months when Associations, Harden, Nexus, Kemble and Without doubt the Panel is challenging us more, calls for repairs are at their highest. Whitefriars. It has now met five times since which is exactly what we want and it is about to As a result, some people might find that their annual Whitefriars joined the Group and it has had an elect it’s own Chair and take forward the safety check and service is brought forward to the important input into developing the Group’s agenda within it’s wider remit. summer and early autumn. You will be advised of new vision and values, corporate aims and any appointments to carry out the service. Please future plans for engaging customers. help us by letting our engineers in – or by arranging If you want to join the Customer Panel The Panel has also visited the new Group alternative dates if the appointment is not suitable. Contact Centre at Nexus and viewed various contact your Housing Officer on homes within the Group. The Panel exchange 01905 342600 For more information please contact experiences of their Associations and are playing Nexus on 01905 342600 Take part in MULBERRY TERRACE our first Customer SET TO BLOOM AGAIN Conference Join us at the Sixways Stadium - home to the Worcester Warriers - on Thursday 29th October. It’s half term week, there’s going to be plenty to do, for young and old, and it’s all free! The Nexus Customer Conference is a chance to: n celebrate our new partnership with Sixways n meet our staff and hear about our Nexus staff, residents and suggestions are now being acted services contractors are preparing to roll up upon to give the n view exhibitions by local jobs their sleeves and don their wellies area a bright and training providers, the Emergency and cared-for Services, Army and Navy to spruce up Mulberry Terrace. feel. The project n meet specialist advisers in finance, The area, in one of the older parts of Worcester, is creating a lifestyle and housing has suffered wear and tear in communal areas. sense of Anti-social behaviour from some former residents community and will, we hope, bring lasting n take part in children’s activities improvement. ” also added to the need for a general tidy-up. Worcester Warriers are donating a season ticket for Housing Officer, Anne King successfully applied to Pitching in with residents on the day will be the 2009/2010 season to a lucky Nexus customer. For your chance to win the ticket, register your Nexus for a £2000 Community Funding Grant to grounds maintenance contractor Sheldons and interest with Lindon Morgan by emailing carry out environmental improvements. On some of the Customer Service Advisors from firstname.lastname@example.org or call Friday 28th August it will be all hands to the pump Nexus led by Customer Involvement Officer, 01905 342600 to put in new plants and flower beds, turf and Lindon Morgan. shrubs as well as repairing some fencing to front Mandy Hall, one of the original residents at Further information on the Worcester gardens and elsewhere. Mulberry Terrace commented; “Once we all chip Warriors and Sixways go to Anne said; “The residents at Mulberry Terrace are in and it is done and tidied, we can all take pride in www.warriors.co.uk and really behind the improvements and their our street” www.sixwaysevents.co.uk 4 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 On tour in the Contact Centre Twenty customers representing all four West Mercia Housing Group Associations were given a grand tour of the new Contact Centre by the Contact Centre Manager, Elaine Cash. The customers helped Elaine and her team explore ways to make repairs reporting more user friendly. Elaine said: “This was a great opportunity to meet all the contact centre staff, share experiences and get a real understanding of how the service works”. Customers from across West Mercia Housing Group watch on as Contact Centre staff log incoming repairs calls. NEW FACES AT THE END OF THE LINE By listening to our customers we know that the Helping Us to repairs service is a high priority to many people. A helping Leading up to the launch of our new Group wide Help You, Contact Centre we have worked with the new Contact Centre Team, to give them as much training as possible. This included visits to homes and estates to learn more about the Association stock across the 5 Tips for Reporting Repairs… hand Nexus has been working very closely, and Group. in partnership with, Worcester Housing & 1. Give us as much helpful information as Sally (one of the new advisors) said; “The training was possible. We will ask you some questions so Benefit Advise Centre (WH&BAC) which intense but it enables me to give a good service to our that we can get the right repair ordered and has enabled our customers to access help customers. There’s nothing better than being able to the right craft-worker to visit you. help people who have a real emergency and knowing to resolve benefit queries and access that they are getting a quick and efficient service from 2. Try to avoid peak periods (9-10.30am and financial and debt advice. our repairs contractors. There is also a really good lunchtimes) unless it is an emergency, as we sense of team work”. don’t want you to have to wait. Since the agreement has Shirley (another new advisor) summed up her first been set up more 3. Remember there are some repairs you are few months; “I work with a great bunch of people, we than 100 responsible for. You can check what these are support each other and it’s a pleasure and joy to come in your Residents Handbook and in your customers have to work. It’s hard work but really enjoyable”. Tenancy Agreement. been assisted. We hope that as we learn, you will experience a We will feature continuously improving service, that politely explains 4. Out of office hours, that’s between 6pm and which repairs we are responsible for and any that 8am, and the weekends, the Contact Centre more information you need to carry out. can only accept calls to report emergencies. in our next issue, In order to improve though, we need your feedback 5. Remember your appointment and please stay but, in the meantime, and would encourage you to let us know anything in for it. To help you remember we will also if anyone is interested in we can improve further by filling in the repairs send you a number of text message reminders obtaining this assistance please contact satisfaction questionnaire that you will receive once a (unless of course you do not want us to). repair has been completed. our Income Management Staff on 01905 342600. 5 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 OMER EY 2009 CUST SURV NEXUS TION SAT ISFAC CUSTOMER se of you that m t we can’t ments tha individual specific co give you an unfortunate ly ks to tho response to . that every Many than customer survey completed a questionna ng with recently. a numb ir Alo e er of ave nt to We do wa s been read and ha comment ents, along with the part of a m assure you noted and these com ur responses will fo key rm CONTACT When Nexus residents ents, we h yo ing contact the office resid sy going findings of n plan we are putt e most find getting hold of the right person been bu il tio detailed ac customers. This wil edition lb easy 77% residents, 68 throug h the deta ith xt % supported, together w you to see in the ne 80% sheltered, howeve of th e feedback r r home owners available fo nnects. found it less w e have s of Nexus c o ll flavour o f easy with a receiv ed. Thank er e is a sma . We take lower an time, h also to In the me things you have said ise to percentage of e m 'Feedback some of th ery seriously and pro are 55%. v e irkb y Services' w ho your views s where you think w ere are Once staff e a wh ine B ther irector were the address ar celebrate the areas have been Ca tant D d Assis the data to look at on the weaker an contacted, the asked doing well. on any of majority of company with your views formation ot back to us and come ices that the team range of s e. erv here at t further in If you wan ntioned, please do us. me the items ontact us here at N n ex residents found them to be helpful 86% resident, 89% 95% supported resid vid hesitate to c satisfied with ents Nexus pro we need to sheltered, 95% areas that ade some helpfulness of staf of course supported and only f There are some of you have m 64% of home owners. nd improve a Overall satisfaction with service provided The majority of residen ts 83% are satisfied with the ov erall services provided by Nexus and a 1% increase since the 2006 survey. Repairs and Sheltered customers were the most satisfied 92% 83% maintenance followed by supporte d customers 77%. H of residents owners were the leas ome t satisfied with the over satisfied service with only 55% all . 78% of residents, 77% of supported customers and 88% of sheltered customers are satisfied with the overall repairs and maintenance service. An KEEPINGNTS overwhelming 100% was scored from our supported customers for speed at which 88% of sheltered residents RESIDE ED INFORM satisfied with the the work was overall service completed, quality of repair, e satisfied s residents ar attitude of worker and 7% of Nexu 77% , 7 em informed being told when the work will start. that N exus keeps th and red customers If you would like to become 8 9% of shelte ough e owners, alth of residents involved in our Repairs Group 65% of hom at d customers satisfied contact your Housing Officer. on resident fewer supporte See article ere satisfied. t on page 5 . only 60% w involvemen 6 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 A nti-Social Taking Behav iour (ASB) s atisfaction nts reported an ti-social account of Only a small pr behaviour to N customers foun oportion ex of Nexus reside us over the pa d it ea st 12 months, sy to contact th found staff he 60% of these e right person lpful, however , while 25% only 43% of your views t. 61% oblem. found it difficul al with their pr d staff able to de residents foun tered and supp orted action im proved for shel g that However satisf sheltered feelin h 83% supp orted and 70% customers wit how we 54% of an example of ful. See page 8 for staff were help cester. supported recently ac ted to solve a If you are suffe problem in Wor ring proble ms of anti-soc dedicated hotl ial behaviour ine on 0845 60 out of office 4 1453 83% supported customers, 77% our hours then ring customers satisfied sheltered customers and 71% Neighbourhood of residents thought Satisfaction with the neighbourhood in which that we took into top 3 issues for residents are car parking, you live is very positive and very high compared with other landlords and much disruptive children/teenagers and rubbish/litter. account their views, but only 40% of 71% of residents think improved since our last survey. Where ther their views are e See page 11 for further details on how were problems in your neighbourhoods the residents tackled rubbish and litter on one of esta home owners taken into account tes. thought that this was the case. Survey Prize Draw Winners Mr M Sheehan Hereford Mr K Jelfs 72% of residents Eve sha m Mrs O Peters Hereford satisfied with the neighbourhood Mrs M Chambers Birm ing ham OVERALL QUALITY OF YOUR HOME 80% of Nexus residents are satisfied with the quality of 80% their homes with even higher satisfaction ratings from sheltered customers 97%, supported customers of residents ING TO 80% and home owners 85%. satisfied JARGON BUSTER: LOOK TURE Resident: a person who rents and lives in a home owned by the association. THE FU at gives yo u a bit ation on w more inform e provide. ng and serv ices w hat So hopefully th t the housi ugh Home owner: bou edback thro a person who lives in the home that he/she owns or is purchasing, or has a have said a get your fe ety you not just to gh the vari share in the equity of the property with the association. We are really keen gular basis throu if you but on a re let us know Sheltered: eys like this offer. Please housing specially designed for older people, grouped together with a range of surv tivities we ays you can communal facilities. of invo lvement ac bout th e various w formation a Supported: w ant more in ne Birkb y shared or self-contained accommodation in which people with special needs are d. get involve Catheri provided with a wider range of services designed to meet their support needs. irector Assistant D 7 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 Payzone YOU TOLD US ceases WE DID IT You are reminded that Members of the Disability you can no Equality Panel pointed out that 7 6 Hous ing Aids longer use our Housing Aids and g and Adaptations d Payzone to pay Adaptations leaflet did not Helping you manage in your home your rent, but make it clear who they should you can use any contact first. We have now Do you want this leaflet in a different format? 01527 556400 reworded and reissued the Paypoint outlet leaflet stating that your Harden Housing Association Kemble Housing Nexus Housing or pay at any Housing Officer is your first Post Office. contact for minor adaptations – and If you would prefer listed what those are – and we have you can pay on line listed those major adaptations where using your payzone an Occupational Therapist’s assessment swipe card or debit would be required before works can card by going to be carried out. www.allpay.net Also when Housing Officer, Jennifer and click on ‘make a Solely went on an estate walkabout payment’, or you can with customers at King Charles Close, a resident, The Disability Equality Panel would pay over the phone Mrs Field, asked if an area of land which had welcome new members. We are looking to on 0870 7700472. become dark and shaded could be grassed over roll this Panel out across the Group if you and the ivy removed. If you have a bank account you can also would like to join contact your Housing pay your rent via a direct debit. We were delighted to oblige – and look Officer on 01905 343600 what a great difference it has made! Acting for ARE WE MEETING OUR SERVICE STANDARDS? YOU Responding to you Managing Your Home 98% of telephone calls were answered 75% of anti social behaviour reports (12 cases) within 6 rings. were responded to within 14 days. Nexus takes anti-social 76% of letters and emails were answerd 100% of harassment or racial (7 cases) within 7 days. harassment reports were behaviour (ASB) very responded to within 2 days. Access to our services seriously and recently acted We received 0 requests for access to customer files or computer records. 50% of harassment or racial to solve a problem in (2 cases) harassment cases were a physical Worcester. Repairs attack has taken place were Following complaints from neighbours over a 100% of our emergency repairs were responded to within 1 day. period of time, and a number of failed attempts to completed or made safe within 24 reach a solution, we successfully applied to the Responding To Complaints hours courts for an injunction against the resident for ASB 83% of our routine repairs were offered 50% of complaints were responded to and were granted outright possession of the within 14 days. an appointment within 28 days property by the judge. 99% of our homes with a gas supply Getting Involved The perpetrator was a single person suffering from alcoholism who used the house as a bail address. have received an annual gas 81% of the actions in the annual This resident’s behaviour, and the behaviour of safety check. Customer Involvement Statement visitors to the property, caused the complainant to have been completed. feel persecuted. These figures are for the period April 2009 - June 2009 The house has now been re-let as a family home. 8 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 A big 3 We achieved this in June 2008 and our Customer Panels were extremely valuable in agreeing the content and the design of the new campaign for Resident and leaflet. 4. Developing the role of our existing Customer Monitors to become Involvement ambassadors for their local services. At the beginning of 2008 we only had a In 2008 we set out eight different ways handful of customer monitors. We now through which we would improve have an amazing 350 monitors across the 3 Associations as at April 2009 and these We have achieved half of this target. We completed a resident involvement. We are now able customers are helping us to manage our comprehensive review of Customer Involvement in to put a big tick by almost every single schemes better. March 2009. The communications review however has one. The eight targets were: 5. Ensuring that we have in place a regular been put on hold as we want to complete this programme of customer training. with Whitefriars Housing who joined the Group 1. Asking customers to help us set the priorities in December 2008. We will carry this target for further service improvements as well as We haven't achieved this. Although we have carried out forward to 2009/2010. the way they are involved in this work. lots of adhoc customer training, we haven't yet extended it to all customers in the way we planned. 8. Formally launching 'Scheme Walkabouts' We achieved this in early 2008 via a telephone survey of where customers are invited to work jointly We will carry this target some 400 customers and you told us that your top with staff to improve our services. forward to 2009/2010. priorities are customer involvement and communication. 6. Ensuring that all staff are regularly updated We have recently achieved this and now all large about the benefits of effective customer housing schemes have scheduled walkabouts. 2. Setting up joint meetings where customers Now that the walkabouts are in place we know involvement. and Board Members review the performance that we need to improve the process in the of our services together. We have achieved this by regular updates to coming months. staff and the production of a customer We have called these Groups 'Scrutiny Panels' and involvement newsletter given out to all We have worked hard on our Customer we have now set these up at all 3 Associations members of staff. during late 2008 and early 2009. Involvement service this year and we are 7. Delivering customer priorities set in 2007, by pleased to have completed 61/2 actions 3. Re-launching our 'Take heart -Take part' carrying out a comprehensive service review out of 8. campaign which offers a menu of opportunities of our customer involvement service followed to get involved, such as being a member of our We will carry these 11/2 actions forward by a review of how we communicate with Telephone Panel through to Work shadowing to 2009/2010 customers. or becoming a Board Member. MORE SAY FOR Are you a HOME OWNERS Change A new Home Owner Panel has been set up to give home owners more of a say in our services. Home owners are a growing group, making Maker? ou Y can make a REAL difference to the up 14% of our customers, and include quality of services that Nexus offers its shared owners, leaseholders who have residents by joining one or both of our bought a flat and those who have bought ground breaking new groups. the property outright, but are required to pay a service charge. l Scrutiny Panel This resident-led group maintains an overview of service All our home owners were invited to delivery. Members examine the decisions made by the Board attend the first Panel meeting in March and can choose to ‘scrutinise’ them in depth and make and the Panel now consists of 12 members appropriate recommendations. from Worcester. We are also hoping to l Customer Inspectors encourage owners from Bromsgrove, The Customer Inspectors work closely with the Scrutiny Redditch, Evesham and elsewhere to join. Panel and give an independent view from a residents’ The Panel may also look at the delivery of perspective to improve services. The Panel discusses areas of concern. One They can inspect any of the services by: of the first topics members focused on was the service contracts carried out on many a Home Owners Strategy that has been of our schemes and the ways that home • conducting face to face interviews; developed and has since been agreed. owners could become involved in the • carrying out telephone surveys; monitoring of these contracts. The strategy commits the Group to • shadowing Officers. working with home owners to improve and These new groups add extra accountability and challenge shape the service and information available why and how Nexus does things - helping us to constantly to them. If you are a home owner, improve. live outside Worcester and The Panel was also advised about the would be interested in If you would like to join either one get in changes being made to statements being joining the Panel, please touch with Lindon Morgan, Customer sent out in October which give a contact breakdown of all elements included within Lindon Morgan and Involvement Officer on the charge which are based on actual costs 01905 342 600 or email Rose Lewis on 01905 342600. from the previous year. email@example.com 9 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 ANNUAL REPORT Customer Ideas Sessions Watch out for an Annual Report with a YouTube style difference after an ideas session with film for everyone customers from all four of our Housing to watch. Associations. The Annual The result was a highly original idea of Report will be customers interviewing Managers asking the completed in questions they want answering. A final twist November 2009 is that in addition to the traditional paper and will be posted to all our customers with Accounts that based Annual Report, the interviews will be filmed and placed on the website in a the winter edition of the newsletter. benefit you There are many benefits to having a bank account. Even a basic bank account will give you the opportunity to use additional ways to pay your rent and other household bills. All our customers can approach any High Street bank direct and ask for information about the different accounts and how to open one. Alternatively, there is information available on the Financial Services Authority (FSA) website, www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk about bank accounts and credit unions. Residents and staff from all Associations within West Mercia Housing Group met to discuss ideas for this years Annual Report Monitor Rent increases explained training The Government sets guidance on how we increase the rent we charge every year. Following this since we expect inflation to be much lower this September. Unfortunately, we have been told that this is not allowed. “We can however assure our customers that we guidance means that this year our will use the extra money we receive from this rise rents need to rise by the rate of to make further improvements in our services and properties. Since this year’s inflation is set to be inflation as it was on 30th much lower than last year’s, we expect that any September 2008 plus 0.5%. rent increases next year will also be lower. Last September inflation stood at 5% “Although our residents who receive full and so, from 1st October, your rent housing benefit will have will go up by 5.5%. the increase paid, we realise Since last September inflation has that for many of fallen considerably and so we our residents A series of training sessions is being asked if we could spread this 5.5% planned for our Customer Monitors – the increase over two years. represents a volunteers who review our contractors’ Unfortunately, despite our best significant rise services, including cleaning of communal efforts we have not been allowed to over and above areas, windows and grounds do this. any pay, pension or maintenance services. The Government has also set a target rent benefit rises they level for social housing. For people whose rent might have received”. The sessions will also is currently below this level we also need to enable our Monitors to increase the amount they pay each week by meet with the £2. However, more than 1,800 of our contractors to work properties are already at this level, so for towards a greater residents in these homes this additional charge Our Housing Officers are available to talk understanding of the will not apply. to anyone who is having difficulty paying contractual requirement. Despite these increases the rent we charge is their rent and to help them to get financial still lower than or the same as other housing advice or benefits, if applicable. You can associations in the area. contact them 01905 342600. Finance Director, David Maitland explains: We will send you more information “We lobbied the Tenant Services Authority to try about your rent later this month. and spread the rent increase over two years, 10 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 MOVING Answering ON your queries There are a number of Do you need to topics which the Contact Centre is frequently move within Nexus asked to respond to. Here are the answers to for any reason? three of them: Elaine Cash, Contact Centre Manager If you do, you will need to register with Home Cracked windows Choice Plus, a Worcestershire-wide system used by Nexus to allocate all of our properties. Our answer: If the unit is double glazed, This scheme is managed and maintained by your and there are no local authority. We no longer hold separate health and safety transfer lists for our residents. Once registered issues, place tape over you will receive a personal number which Doreen Archer Lynne Jones the cracks to prevent enables you to ‘bid’ on up to three properties the window from per week by phone, text, online or in person. falling out until the repair is carried out. If there is a All Nexus applicants We will continue to help our residents by must have a clear rent health and safety issue, for example, if you are advertising a percentage of our vacancies as account, not in breach unable to close the window, then the work will be ‘Nexus residents preferred’. This means we will of their tenancy and carried out as an emergency. However all other consider the first Nexus resident on the Home their current property repairs will be done within 28 days. Choice Plus shortlist providing that the property must be in very good is suitable for your needs. condition. Damaged fencing Our answer: If the damage has been caused by For more information contact Lynne Jones or Doreen Archer on the customer then the cost of the repair would be recharged. If the repair is required because of 01905 342600, or visit www.homechoiceplus.org.uk vandalism then this needs to be reported to the Police and a crime reference number obtained before reporting the repair. We only have responsibility for marking the boundary where YOUNGSTERS gardens meet pubic pathways or roads and the first privacy panel between neighbours. All other fencing is to be agreed and paid for between neighbours. BANISH LITTER Allowing Access Our answer: When allowing access for our workmen to enter your property, an adult of 18 The Nexus Young Litter Chairperson for Blackpole years or older must be present. If this is not the case our workmen will not carry out the work Wardens scheme was launched Residents Group, with concerns required and you would need to call the Contact in June, after a number of young about the increase of litter on Centre to re-book a convenient appointment. people approached Keith Beck, the estate. Watch out for more topics in our next issue Keith successfully applied for a £300 grant from the Nexus Community Project Fund, and with the support of Reg Blakemore of Sparkle Cleaning and Malcolm Cox of Worcester City Council, all Litter Wardens were supplied with approved high visibility vests, safety gloves, litter picking poles and black refuse sacks. Strict health and safety guidelines were followed and certified supervisors were present throughout. The Young Litter Wardens were issued with attendance cards and carried out three litter picking sessions on the estate. After completing their tasks they were given a £5 gift voucher as a ‘thank you’ for their hard work. Keith Beck said; “A big ‘Thank You’ to all the young people who took part in the project, Sparkle Cleaning Services, Worcester City Council and Nexus Housing Association for their continued support with the litter picking project. All equipment was provided free of charge on a hire basis.“ Keith Beck (far left) and the Young Litter Wardens 11 NEXUS CONNECTS SUMMER 2009 Winner’s LETTINGS spotlight SATISFACTION The winner of the WINNER Congratulations to this month’s lettings spring word search satisfaction winner, Mr and Mrs Evans of competition was Worcester who have won £25 vouchers in their lettings pack (forms booklet). Make sure Mrs P Goodman our latest lettings satisfaction prize draw. All if you have recently moved into a Nexus from Malvern they had to do was return their completed property you do the same so your name is who received lettings satisfaction questionnaire found in entered in to the prize draw next time. her £25 gift vouchers. Our very own ¡ O D F S V L G L C E U B D E B U Y L L B I C L A SPRING A F S P V O I P O P L Y E C T T S T T J G T D Y WORD F O O R R I G N E Y T X M C E R N O O C T U S S SEARCH All you have to do is find the 15 flower names in the word search. As D D S U S S I C R A N L you look for the hidden words, remember that they can be I W R S P I L U T F W I horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, forward or backward. L O J X O L H P Z Z C P Fill in the entry form and return it by Friday, 24th April 2009 for the chance Master Chefs! S N Q D D P G S I R I P to win £25 worth of gardening vouchers. Send your entry to: D S N H T N I C A Y H E Richard Hancock, Customer Involvement Officer, P K O M E Z D A W I P R West Mercia Housing Group, BLUEBELLS FORGET ME NOTS LILY SNOWDROPS Barnsley Hall, Barnsley Hall BUTTERCUPS HYACINTH NARCISSUS TULIPS Road, Bromsgrove, CROCUS IRIS PHLOX VIOLETS Worcestershire, B61 0TX. DAFFODILS LADYS SLIPPER POPPY Name Entry Address Closing date is Form Postcode Friday 24th April 2009 ¡ When the heat is on, the chefs get cooking, and, in a dramatic cook-off at Regency High School in Worcester, there was little to separate our two West Mercia Housing finalists. Kemble shared owner Amanda Taylor won by just a couple of points with her crunchy rhubarb crumble, while Harden resident Enayat Ewiss stunned judges with her traditional Egyptian slightly-spicy dish of Maheshy. REPAIRS Amanda explains. “When we took on an allotment last year, all that PRIZE was on it was rhubarb so I adapted an apple crumble recipe. My children love helping make it so we DRAW Congratulations to Mrs Barnard of usually have crumble at the weekends.” She’d even sent husband Matt out the night before the cook off to pick the last of this seasons’ stalks! redditich, who has won £25 of vouchers in Top Picture: Enayat and Amanda present their dishes to the judges: Denise Shuker, Housing Director; Keith Beck, Board Member and Lindon Morgan, our latest repairs prize draw. All he had to do Customer Involvement Officer. was return the short customer satisfaction survey that we sent him when he recently You can find the recipes on our website ordered a repair. Make sure you do the same www.nexushousing.co.uk or pop into our office and we will next time you request a repair so your name is print you off a copy. entered into the prize draw. Do you have difficulty reading Nexus Connects? If you would like If so, please get this or any other in touch and of our documents request a CD translated please version of Nexus contact us Connects. You can do this by calling Customer Services on: 01905 342 600 Nexus Housing or alternatively speak to your local Apex 2, Apex Park, Wai n wr i gh t R o a d Worcester WR4 9FN Tel: 01905 342600 Housing Officer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.nexushousing.co.uk 12 Amanda Taylor’s winning: Rhubarb Crumble Ingredients: 1kg freshly picked rhubarb 2 table spoon caster sugar 100g plain flour 2 tea spoons ground cinnamon 100g stork margarine 125g soft brown sugar 100g rolled oats Method: 1. Preheat oven to 180˚C (150˚F / Gas Mark 4). 2. Chop the rhubarb into 1-2 inch chunks and place in shallow oven-proof dish, sprinkle with caster sugar and mix to combine. 3. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl. Using fingertips rub the margarine into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the brown sugar and rolled oats and mix together well. 4. Sprinkle the crumble mixture onto the rhubarb. 5. Bake for 40-50mins until the rhubarb is tender. 6. Serve with custard or vanilla ice cream. Enayat Ewiss’ Egyptian dish: Maheshy Ingredients: 1 green cabbage 300g mince meat 2 onions 3 finely chopped tomatoes 2 green chilly 300g Italian rice ½ a cup of finely chopped parsley 1 cup of chicken stock Salt and pepper Cooking oil Method: 1. Soak the rice in water for 30mins. 2. Chop the onion finely and put it in a pan with the mince meat and a drizzle of oil. Leave it on a low heat to cook. 3. Take the mince meat off the heat when it is fully cooked then add the rice, chopped tomatoes and the parsley. The mixture is ready now. 4. Prepare the cabbage by separating the cabbage leaves as whole leaves. Then put them in boiling water for a few seconds each. 5. Take one cabbage leaf at a time cut it in half then add one spoon of the mixture on to each half. Fold the sides in and roll the cabbage leaf up. Put the cabbage leaf into a frying pan. Repeat this until all the mixture has been used. 6. Add the chicken stock then put it on the heat for nearly 20mins until the rice is cooked. 7. Serve with grilled chicken and salad.