Winter all wrapped up Hints and tips to stay warm and well this winter. Apprenticeship opportunities

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1 Home Matters JANUARY 2014 Winter all wrapped up Hints and tips to stay warm and well this winter. Apprenticeship opportunities Meet Shajjad and find out how Circle Housing helped him kick start his marketing career.

2 Home Matters JANUARY 2014 Winter all wrapped up Hints and tips to stay warm and well this winter. Apprenticeship opportunities Meet Shajjad and find out how Circle Housing helped him kick start his marketing career. If you require this publication in large print, audio, Braille or an alternative format, or you need this document translated into a different language, please call and we will do our best to help / old-ford Solar House (4th Floor), 1 9 Romford Road, Stratford London, E15 4LJ Home Matters January 2014 A new look Welcome to Home Matters, with a new look for Following your feedback we ve completely revamped your customer mag. We d love to hear your views at This year we ll continue to work hard to support customers affected by welfare benefit changes such as the Under Occupation Penalty (bedroom tax), the benefit cap and Universal Credit when this is introduced. Last year we made major changes to our repairs and maintenance services, with new contractors and new ways of working. It s taken a while for the services to settle down but they are improving and we ll be working hard in the coming months to deliver the agreed standard of service. Suki Jandu Managing Director, Circle Housing Old Ford. A great scheme in Essence Our stunning new Essence development in Bow will soon be welcoming its first residents. It offers 208 new homes at Gladstone Place on Roman Road, as well as a few shops and a supermarket. The new, modern development is a mix of homes for rent, shared ownership and private sale. The development includes secure limited parking and landscaped internal courtyards. DRIVE A CAR WITHOUT THE HIGH COSTS We have also teamed up with City Car Club, a 24/7 short term car rental service to offer the convenience of a vehicle without the hassle and expense of owning one. All Gladstone Place residents can receive a two year free membership, while all other Circle Housing Old Ford residents in Bow can join the scheme for a reduced fee of only 1. (rather than 60). Visit for details. The promotional codes for Old Ford residents are: Gladstone Place two years free membership promocode RGP002 Other Circle Housing Old Ford residents in Bow (reduced fee of 1) promocode OFR600 3

3 Home Matters January 2014 Out of hours help for victims of anti social behaviour At Circle Housing Old Ford we understand residents may occasionally suffer from anti social behaviour (ASB), noise nuisance or harassment where they live. We re committed to dealing with such problems quickly. We ve teamed up with Centra Connect to pilot a new and improved ASB reporting service. This service is available to all residents, whether you re reporting a problem for the first time or waiting to discuss a problem currently under investigation. If it s an emergency and a crime is being committed you should always call the police in the first instance. The team will forward your concerns to other agencies such as the police or council if necessary and will also pass on the information for our staff to pick up the next working day. You can discuss ASB with Centra Connect staff from 5pm to 8.30am. Call (Freephone) or (local rate). Volunteer your time and make a difference Would you like to learn new skills and contribute to your community. We have lots of volunteering opportunities at Circle Housing Old Ford. For more details, you can attend our Volunteers Day on January 30th. It will be a chance to meet staff, volunteers and find out about the opportunities available. Stay warm & well this winter We want to help you stay warm and well this winter. Here are some simple tips to help: If you qualify, get your free flu jab Try to keep the temperature in your main living areas between 18 and 21 degrees at all times Remember to close curtains and shut doors to keep heat in the rooms you use most Make sure that you don t have furniture up against radiators to get the full heat from them Wear thin layers of clothing to trap the warm air in your body Try to eat regular hot meals and have a hot drink as often as you can Tinned vegetables still count towards your five a day, so make sure that you stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you don t need to leave your home if the weather is really cold There are benefits to help you pay for your heating in the winter. The Winter Fuel Payment is up to 300 and is paid to people over the age of 61, and the Warm Home Discount is a discount of 135 on your electricity bill and is paid to a range of households with vulnerable circumstances For more information about Warm Home Discount call For more information about Winter Fuel Payment call

4 Inner Circle January 2014 SPOTLIGHT ON: New Year s Resolution! How s your money looking? Our telecare services provider, Centra Pulse, is the UK s largest independent provider of telecare services. It helps more than 100,000 people live independently in their own home, safe with the peace of mind that help is on hand at the press of a button. We provide personal alarms, wireless sensors and detectors which spot and minimise the impact of every day dangers, giving access to our specially trained operators who are on hand around the clock. It s ideal for older people or anyone who lives alone. If help is needed, we will make sure it s on its way as quickly as possible. Prices start from 3.24 each week. Call to or visit Tasty meals delivered to your door Circle Housing and Centra have teamed up with Oakhouse Foods, which offers home delivery services for frozen meals and desserts. Delivery is on a set day and staff can even put the food in your freezer if required. Customers can order from more than 300 delicious dishes. Prices start from 2.30 and the range caters for a wide variety of special diets, including gluten free and diabetic. The Oakhouse Food s Best Sellers Pack costs 35 and has seven main meals and four desserts. Circle Housing and Centra customers can enjoy a 5 discount. To order call and quote offer code PO2C. Did you make any resolutions about your personal finances last January? If so, how did you do? It s a good idea to review your money at the start of the year, especially as many of us find our bank balances suffering from a post festive season financial hangover. Have you considered taking your money through a financial health check by visiting our Money Matters web pages? /get advice/rent money and benefits advice Here you will find advice and support on keeping a healthy rent account as well as information and guidance on managing household bills, budgeting, borrowing and benefits all aimed at helping you take control of your money. The pages also tell you how to get some free advice either face to face, online or over the phone with independent providers such as Step Change and the Money Advice Service. There are easy to use cut back and money stretcher calculators for you to try. Why not get the New Year off to good start and seek help to sort out any money issues. Happy 2014! Top 5 MONEY TIPS: Work out your budget Shop smartly look for those deals Claim all the benefits you re entitled to Be careful how you borrow Get advice quickly if things go wrong 6 7

5 Inner Circle January 2014 Apprenticeship was the option for me Never give up on getting an apprenticeship as there are many employers out there to help you succeed Shajjad Being an apprentice at Circle Housing has been a fantastic experience. As the Marketing and Communications Apprentice in the Digital Marketing team, I make sure that the websites are maintained to the highest standards. My role is quite varied and it includes everything from administrative duties to assisting with advertising campaigns. We ve just launched our brand new websites and this has been a very busy time for my department. I joined the Circle Housing apprenticeship programme a year ago without any previous marketing background. Prior to this I had been through college and was keen to get into a workplace and learn on the job. My enthusiasm and determination combined with my positive and proactive attitude was something that Circle Housing was looking for. I found this opportunity via the National Apprenticeship website and I highly recommend aspiring apprentices to use this service. Never give up on getting an apprenticeship as there are many employers out there to help you succeed. As part of my apprenticeship not only am I gaining work experience but I also achieve a nationally recognised qualification, which definitely boosts my CV and employability. I m working towards an NVQ Marketing & Communications level 2. The highlight of my apprenticeship is that I have been able to experience corporate life, professionalism and contributing to events. I ve learnt that Circle Housing isn t only about renting out homes but also about helping to improve the lives of residents and communities. With the opportunity Circle Housing has given me I can see myself obtaining a good position following on from my apprenticeship. Circle Housing has a range of apprenticeship roles which are advertised both on the Circle Opportunities website and on the National Apprenticeship Service website 8 9

6 Residents can make a real difference to how Circle Housing works Alison Hill, chairman of RASP Our Resident and Service Users Panel (RASP) is unique in that it has a resident representative from each of the partners that make up Circle Housing and Centra. We help to ensure that Circle Housing provides the services that people want and need. As well as helping to improve things for residents, it also enables us to learn new skills and talk to residents in other areas, as well as visiting some of the other Circle Housing associations to find out about their work and how we can share best practice Alison Hill The group looks into services, anything from financial inclusion to repairs and maintenance contracts, and recommends where Circle Housing can improve. RASP s feedback goes to the Board. Alison Hill chairs the RASP group and is a resident of Centra Living. RASP meets quarterly at Circle Housing s London office. Video conferencing facilities are available from other group offices, and travel expenses are provided. Members annually share their work with the Group Assembly, which is made up of all the partner boards. Current members are from Circle Housing Circle 33, Circle Housing Wherry, Circle Housing Mercian, Circle Housing South Anglia, Circle Housing Roddons, Circle Housing Russet and Centra Living. We are seeking members for Circle Housing Mole Valley, Circle Housing Merton, Circle Housing Old Ford and Centra. If you are interested in joining please contact Bina Omare who supports RASP at or call her on

7 Inner Circle January 2014 News for home owners Circle Housing is reviewing the fees we charge for home management. Boards will be making the decision on changes to charges in May this year with new fees taking effect from April If you re a home owner you ll find a letter explaining more about this review with your January rent statement. If you d like to get involved in the review or add to the discussion, please get in touch with Adrian Shaw, Director of Commercial and Leasehold. Post: Centra Living, 1 7 Corsica Street, London, N5 1JG. Identifying repairs more easily We have been training staff to diagnose repair issues and help us deal with your problems more quickly. Circle Housing Old Ford staff recently attended a course which gave them the skills to talk to residents more confidently about problems, give advice, ask the right questions to assess the problem, learn technical terms and become more efficient in dealing with the calls. If you call to report a repair, your query can now be identified more quickly and accurately, helping to improve how repairs are dealt with, and how quickly. SAVE TIME GO ONLINE Have you seen our new website? We ve completely updated it to make your digital experience with us easy, fast and secure. Go to and choose your landlord using the drop-down list in the middle of the page. Finding what you need should be much easier plus you can do much more including; Reporting repairs Making payments Finding out about our complaints process Dealing with anti-social behaviour Finding a home with Centra homes Easy access to our money matters advice centre Ways to get involved You ll get a copy of any online enquiry you make to your personal address to confirm that we ve received your enquiry. There s a handy FAQs section on the site to help you get the most out of our new website and our improved search helps you get what you need quickly and simply. News flash! We ve just launched a mobile version of the website so you can look at it and get in touch wherever you are from your Smartphone or tablet. Meet our staff We are holding meet the team sessions for Tower Hamlets residents. You can chat to staff from our customer services, resident involvement, property services, housing and estate services teams and ask any questions informally. We look forward to seeing you there. Lanfranc / Lakeview 28 January, Butley Court Community Centre, 3pm 7pm Monteith 4 February, Francis Lee Community Centre, 3pm 7pm St Andrews / Caspian February, To be confirmed, 3pm 7pm Circle Housing Circle March, John Scurr Community Centre, 3.30pm 7pm Tredegar 20 March, Tredegar Community Centre, 3pm 7pm 12 13

8 Home Matters January 2014 Free DIY courses for women Free DIY classes for women in Bow are starting soon. The six-week course teaches you skills such as fixing toilets, blockages, using drills, putting up shelves, changing locks and basic tiling. The course will be at Circle Housing Old Ford s Construction Training Centre at Ollerton Green, Jodrell Road, Bow. If you are interested, please contact Charmaine Brouard on or uk. Spaces are limited but we will be running the course again later in the year. CHOOSING THE BEST ENERGY DEAL We ve joined up with My Home Energy Switch to provide free advice on the best tariffs for you and advice on how to switch your supplier. Visit circle.billscutter.com or call For oneto-one help with switching, and energy saving advice call our Information Advice and Guidance team on or , or visit Eastside Youth and Community Centre, 6 Parnell Road, Bow, E3 2RB We helped Amorel save 200 Amorel is a carer for her young son. She attended an energy champion session at Eastside Youth & Community Centre and has saved 200 by switching to another energy tariff. She has also attended some of our free training courses at Eastside while her son was at school. I didn t realise Circle Housing Old Ford provided courses for adults where they can gain new skills. I enjoy attending the centre and learning new skills, says Amorel. Easter opening times Circle Housing Old Ford s offices will be closed between Good Friday (18 April) and Easter Monday (April 21) for the Easter Bank Holiday. We will reopen as usual on Tuesday 22 April. To report any repairs or anti-social behaviour over Easter, call from a landline or from a mobile. Apprenticeship helped Mark into skilled work Circle Housing Old Ford resident, Mark Whitford, became an apprentice with Willmott Dixon after we advertised for local young people to apply for a number of work opportunities available on the Orchard Village estate regeneration. Mark lives with his disabled mother in one of the new build phase 1 homes at Orchard Village. Following a difficult upbringing, this apprenticeship gave him a unique opportunity to become a skilled, employed tradesperson. Since serving two years on the apprenticeship scheme, Mark has obtained an NVQ2 qualification. The barriers I have overcome in my life have only made me more determined to make a better life for my family and this apprenticeship is helping me achieve that I bring money home by doing what I enjoy. This is my first ever job and I m really grateful for the opportunity. To be honest, it really has turned my life around, says Mark

9 Home Matters January 2014 How are we doing? Here we report on performance up to the end of October The Government s benefit cap meant some residents had benefits reduced, which affected their ability to pay rent. Rent collection = 99.4% Current tenant rent arrears = 4.0% If you are struggling or have other debt issues, we can help. Please contact our customer services team. We also introduced a new repairs and maintenance partnership with Kier. As this beds in, we have seen some challenges for our repairs performance. We are confident that these will be resolved. Gas safety = 100% Emergency and urgent repairs completed on time = 95.5% This year we have introduced some new performance measures. Customer service centre phone calls answered = 90.6% Calls answered within 30 seconds = 83.9% Customers feel they can count on us = 56.8% Customers who are very satisfied with Circle Housing Old Ford services = 55.5% We are aware that there have been some difficulties in getting through on the phones and we apologise. Additional staff have been taken on to help us manage the service and we made some changes. We are confident you will see the benefit of these in the near future. Satisfaction with last completed repair = 83.5% 16

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