Spring - Severnside Housing
A newsletter from Severnside Housing
launches page 4
advice page 7
2012 page 9
College ‘takes over’ Severnside
Helping students see social housing at work
Just before Christmas, we invited students from Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology (SCAT) to spend a
day working alongside the team at Severnside.
The invitation marked national Takeover Day, a day where young
people are given the chance to work with adults and help inﬂuence
decisions in their local area.
Students joined us and spent their day in different departments
including Housing Support, Customer Services and Sheltered
Claire Poulson, community development ofﬁcer at Severnside, said:
“Encouraging younger people to get involved with Severnside
is important so that we can be sure their views and needs are
heard and taken into account.
“It was great to work with students from SCAT during Takeover
Day. They had lots of ideas about how we could expand and
encourage involvement of younger people, and they got a
real insight into the vital work that housing providers deliver in
Gina Cusack, Student Liaison Ofﬁcer at the College added:
“Everyone who spent the day at Severnside enjoyed their
time there, and was surprised at the different areas of work
involved in social housing.”
If you have a smart phone with
a QR reader application you can
scan this barcode to go directly to
our web page. You will see more of these
QR barcodes in Pillar which will link you
to web pages to give you more or other
related information on certain stories.
Trimming the cost
Present this voucher and get
any hairdressing services
provided by Shropshire County
Pillar Spring 2012
Get 10% off your next hair appointment
Shropshire County Training is kindly
offering all Severnside tenants a
10% discount off the cost of their
entire hairdressing range of services,
from cut and blow dries, to foils.
To beneﬁt from this great offer and to
book your appointment, call 01743
248810 and quote the reference: SSHR.
Remember to cut out the voucher
and take it along with you.
As well as this great discount,
County Training is offering free
hairdressing taster courses, through
our Resident Learning Programme
(see page 4 for more information).
Getting together to make sure your voice is heard
Towards the end of November, we held a ‘How
tenants can inﬂuence change’ day at Shrewsbury
Hospital’s conference centre.
The day, launched by Chief Executive Sarah Boden, was
attended by around 40 people who are regularly involved
with Severnside through the Resident Inspectors group,
focus groups, and other resident panels.
It involved a number of workshops looking at how tenants
could inﬂuence change in particular areas, including equality
& diversity, youth engagement and focus groups.
The day also included presentations on accessing ﬁnancial
services, and keeping in touch with Severnside through
Facebook and Twitter.
Sue Dell, community development manager, said:
“I think the conference has been a huge success
and we have many great ideas and suggestions
to take forward. I look forward to working with
residents to make these ideas a reality.”
The event was crowned by the presentation of four Resident
Involvement Awards, recognising those residents who have
gone the extra mile. Everyone chosen for an award was
nominated and voted for by Severnside residents and staff. The
• Enhancing Communities Award – June Jones
• Outstanding Contribution Award – June Jones
• Personal Development Award – Pamela Cathcart
• Young Person’s Contribution Award – Liam Thomas
At the end of the day, everyone was asked to rate the event.
Feedback showed 95% thought it was good or very good, and
92% said that opportunities for involvement with Severnside
were good or very good.
If you are interested in getting involved with
Severnside, and helping us deliver excellent services,
please contact the Community Development team
on 01743 285000 or email
Skills, conﬁdence and pride
Courses to encourage self-development and social awareness
We’ve recently introduced two
new training courses for young
people to help improve their skills
and conﬁdence, and help them
play a positive role in their local
In partnership with The Prince’s Trust and
the City of Wolverhampton College, a
group of 13 young people aged 16-25
are taking part in a 12-week personal
development course which aims to
improve conﬁdence, motivation and
skills, and encourage them to think about
Since the course started in November,
they’ve gained qualiﬁcations in ﬁrst aid,
ﬁre safety and food hygiene, as well as
going on a trip away to a scout camp,
where they had to budget, as well as
cook, clean and wash up for themselves.
Over the coming weeks, the group will
be going on work placements where
they can try out their new skills and
conﬁdence. Ultimately, they will gain City
and Guilds qualiﬁcations in Development
and Contributing to Communities, as
well as several Key Skills Level 2 awards.
We’re also working with Wolverhampton
College to offer young people aged
16-18 who are not currently in
employment, education or training the
chance to develop their skills through the
‘Get It On’ course, funded by the Skills
Funding Agency and the European Social
This six-week course includes basic English
and Maths training, as well as sessions
on interviews skills and techniques, CV
building and food hygiene. There will also
be fun activities such as archery, abseiling
and rock climbing.
Edge Abboh, community development
ofﬁcer at Severnside Housing, said:
“These courses aim to give young
people the skills and conﬁdence
to progress with their personal
development, make new friends,
improve their employability and
ultimately, play a positive role in
Pillar Spring 2012
Leaseholders. Do you regularly
check your gas heating?
Give your family some peace of mind
If you are a Severnside leaseholder,
do you regularly carry out gas
safety checks and services?
Severnside is responsible for checking
and maintaining gas heating and
appliances provided by us at our rented
homes, but if you’re a leaseholder, you
must do this yourself.
Gas servicing and inspection can
sometimes be overlooked or put off,
but gas heating and appliances that are
not regularly checked and serviced
have an increased risk of breaking
down or not operating correctly.
This may lead to the release of carbon
monoxide, a clear, odourless poisonous
gas which in sufﬁcient quantities can be
fatal. Not keeping these checks up to
date may be putting people in your home
at unnecessary risk.
As a special offer for Severnside, PH
Jones has agreed to carry out these
checks and services for leaseholders.
You do have to pay, but at the same
rate that Severnside pays for servicing
and checks on our rented homes.
To keep you and your family safe, we
would encourage you to arrange regular
safety inspections and services for your
gas heating system and appliances.
If you are interested in
ﬁnding out more about this
offer, call PH Jones on
01743 719051, email them at
or write to: PH Jones, Ofﬁce 24,
Evans Easy Space, Stafford Road,
Battleﬁeld Enterprise Park,
Shrewsbury SY1 3FE
There are plenty of qualiﬁed ‘Gas Safe’
engineers out there who can carry out
these checks and services, including our
own gas contractor PH Jones.
It’s free to join the Severnside
Follow your interests, learn new skills and meet new people
After the success of last year’s
Learning Programme, which was
packed full of FREE short courses
and taster sessions attended by
more than 80 residents, we’ve now
launched this year’s programme.
Last year’s courses were a great success, so
we’ve added even more sessions this year,
particularly for the most popular courses
such as energy efﬁciency, ﬁrst aid, IT and
We’ve also introduced lots of new subjects
too, including hairdressing and arts & crafts.
Just like last year, all courses are run by
Severnside staff and our partner agencies,
and are FREE for Severnside residents.
Others can enrol for a small charge, though
priority will always be given to Severnside
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If you’re interested in photography but don’t know where to start, or want to try
your hand at hairdressing, researching your family history or ﬂower arranging or
more, these courses are for you.
You can pick up a copy of the Severnside Learning Programme from our ofﬁces,
request a copy by calling 01743 285000 or ﬁnd out more on our website:
Remember, if you are a Severnside resident, we may also be able to help with
transport and childcare costs, so get in touch to ﬁnd out more.
Could you feed
four for a ﬁver?
The importance of sustaining
your housing support services
Across Shropshire, more than 3,500 older
residents and vulnerable people receive
housing support services, enabling them to
live independently either in their own homes
or in sheltered housing schemes.
These services are provided by local housing
associations and other organisations, and are paid
for by central government through what is known as
Supporting People funding. This money is given to
Shropshire Council, who then pay associations like
Severnside to provide this housing support.
We want your favourite recipes
We’re putting together a selection of 14 quick, tasty and
healthy recipes for a recipe booklet that will be given out at this
year’s Community Fayre.
If you’ve got a recipe that you love, that’ll feed a family of four for about £5,
and will take no more than 20 minutes preparation time and 45 minutes
cooking time, send it in to us and you could feature in the recipe book!
Everyone who has a recipe chosen for the booklet will receive a
£10 shopping voucher.
So, if you’ve got a recipe that you want us to include, send it to us at:
Recipe Suggestions, Community Development, Severnside
Housing, Brassey Road, Old Potts Way, Shrewsbury, or email it to
us at [email protected] by 20th April 2012.
We’re on Facebook.
Log on for the very latest from Severnside
Have you visited our Facebook page yet?
It’s another convenient way for you to keep in touch, give us feedback and
ﬁnd out what’s happening at Severnside.
• Get real-time updates about what is happening at Severnside.
The way that central government provides money
for housing support services has changed, and, as a
result, the funding from Shropshire Council has been
Severnside, and other housing support providers
in Shropshire, were concerned about the potential
impact of these changes on our older residents, so
we joined forces to form the SUSTAIN consortium
to deliver housing support services across Shropshire.
By working together, the consortium aims to provide
a consistent, county-wide standard of service and
make best use of the limited funds available.
Also, by listening closely to the needs of service
users, the consortium can offer more ﬂexibility,
allowing them to opt in and out of services as their
When the SUSTAIN consortium takes over sheltered
housing in April 2012, Severnside will be responsible
for co-ordinating SUSTAIN services in our local area.
Despite these changes, we want to reassure
sheltered housing residents that services such as
communal rooms and other common services will
continue, as promised when people ﬁrst moved into
If you have any questions or concerns about these
changes, please speak to your Scheme
Manager who will be able to
• Keep in touch, or ask us questions.
• Take part in surveys and polls.
• Be the ﬁrst to know about training, events and activities
• Get seasonal tips and energy efﬁciency advice.
• Take part in fun competitions and win prizes.
You can ﬁnd us at www.facebook.com/severnsidehousing
Pillar Spring 2012
expert advice line
is on your side
Did you know that domestic
abuse accounts for between 16%
and 25% of all violent crime in the
UK, with one instance reported
to the police every minute?
Domestic abuse can take many forms
including physical, sexual, psychological
or ﬁnancial abuse; it’s not just limited to
violence. Both men and women can be
victims, and the signs aren’t always clear.
At Severnside, we’re committed to
supporting people who are suffering
domestic abuse and have a dedicated
advice line, with trained male and
female operatives ready to take calls in
If you are suffering from domestic
abuse, or know someone who is, we
Our trained call takers can offer
advice about housing and tenancy
issues, recommendations for security
measures, and details of other agencies
who can offer support and help.
We also provide assistance to help
people ﬁnd temporary accommodation.
You can call in conﬁdence on
Pillar Spring 2012
We’re making some changes to our
24 Severn Careline service, which come
into effect at the end of March. Although
this means alarm calls will be monitored
elsewhere, you should not see a change in
the standard of service provided.
We’ve transferred the monitoring of alarms
to WELbeing, who are a leading provider of
alarm monitoring services and have a team of
highly trained operators. Calls that go through
to the new alarm monitoring centre will still be charged at local rates and will still be
answered as 24 Severn Careline, so the change should not affect anyone.
We’re now contacting all 24 Severn Careline customers to let them know about this
change and arrange to reprogramme their alarm equipment. We’re also reassuring
them that they will continue to be safe and secure, with the knowledge that assistance
is only a button-press away.
For more information about these changes, or for information about 24 Severn
Careline, please call 01743 246058.
Do you have home
If not, get yourself a little reassurance
It’s estimated that around 50% of residents in affordable housing
haven’t got contents insurance.
This means that, in the event of a theft, a ﬁre or a ﬂood, those without insurance
will not receive any money to replace their possessions.
Severnside insures the structure of your home (the bricks and mortar), but not
the items inside. This is your responsibility, so we always advise you to take out
There are several home contents insurance schemes that will cover your home
contents and belongings, with no excess and convenient payment methods.
For more information, contact:
• My Home Contents Scheme - provided by the National Housing Federation,
on 0845 337 2463.
• Farr’s Home Contents Insurance – provided by Severnside’s insurers, on
0870 702 2798.
Residents from Holland
Close sheltered housing
scheme in Bayston Hill
invited pupils from local
School to join them for
EXTEND exercise classes.
Pupils made pom-poms from
recycled plastic shopping bags,
which they used to take part in
Fire safety at home –
always bear it in mind
Some facts, tips and reminders
Over the past couple of months,
there have been several serious
house ﬁres in the area, often
the result of people falling
asleep with cooking left on, or a
cigarette left burning.
Here are some shocking facts about ﬁres:
• Ninety people each year die
because the battery in their
smoke alarm is ﬂat or missing.
Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of
them carefully. Put them out, right out
We also work closely with Shropshire
Fire and Rescue, who have provided a
number of steps and suggestions to stay
safe at home:
• Over half of all accidental ﬁres in
the home are caused by cooking
You are twice as likely to die in a house
ﬁre if you don’t have a working smoke
alarm, so get one and test it every week.
• More than ﬁve ﬁres each day are
started by candles.
• Every three days someone dies
from a ﬁre caused by a cigarette.
• Avoid leaving children in the
kitchen when cooking on the
• Faulty electrics (plugs, wiring and
appliances) cause around 7,000
house ﬁres every year.
• Keep matches and saucepan
handles out of their reach.
Severnside takes many steps to make sure
that you are safe in your home, including
ﬁtting smoke alarms and carrying out
regular gas and electric safety tests.
• Take care when cooking with hot
oil; make sure food is dry before
putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t
• If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too
hot; turn off the heat and leave it
• Preferably, use a thermostatically
controlled electric deep fat fryer;
they can’t overheat.
• If a pan catches ﬁre, don’t take
risks; turn off the heat if it’s safe
to do so.
• Never throw water over it or
attempt to tackle the ﬁre.
• GET OUT, STAY OUT, DIAL 999
Make sure candles are secured in a proper
holder away from materials that may catch
ﬁre, like curtains.
Put your rubbish out for collection as
late as possible. Ideally bins should be six
metres away from properties.
Portable heaters are a convenient way of
adding extra heating, however they can
be a danger if not used and maintained
• Plan an escape route, make
sure exits are clear and ensure
everyone knows how to get out.
• The best route is your normal way
in and out of your home.
• Think about a second route in
case that one is blocked, and have
your house keys to hand. Try to
keep any stairs and hallways clear
of belongings which may get in the
What to do if there is a ﬁre
• Don’t tackle ﬁres yourself.
• Don’t waste time investigating
what has happened, or rescuing
• Keep calm and act quickly to get
• Call 999 as soon as you are clear
of the building.
Pillar Spring 2012
New homes under development
We’re offering more affordable houses in more places
We’ve all seen articles in the press
recently about the need for more
affordable housing in the local
We know that there aren’t enough
homes for everyone, which is why we
have a multi-million pound development
programme to build more homes.
at a development in the centre
of the village. These include one
2-bedroom home for social rent,
along with a 3-bedroom home
and two 2-bedroom homes for
Although we’ve not given you an update
on development recently, our work to
build these new homes hasn’t stopped:
• At Lady Forester Gardens in
Much Wenlock (pictured below),
we’ve purchased four new homes
• Work has started on the third
phase of our development at
Oaklands View in Hanwood
(pictured below), where we’re
building 13 more homes which
are due to be completed in
November this year. These
follow earlier building phases
which provided 20 much-needed
new homes for the local area.
Nine of the new homes will be
available for affordable rent and
the other four will be offered for
discounted market sale.
• At Corporation Lane in
Shrewsbury (pictured above),
building work has just been
ﬁnished on ten new homes, a mix
of 2-bedroom bungalows and 2
and 3-bedroom homes. Two of
the 3-bedroom homes will be
offered for shared ownership,
with the remaining properties
available for social rent.
All of the above new homes for rent will be advertised on Homepoint as they become available. New homes for sale will
be advertised through Holland Broadbridge estate agents once they are available for purchase or call Kate Royle for more
information on 01743 285000.
New rent types explained
Cutting through the jargon
The way that housing
associations’ new home
developments are funded has
changed recently, and as a result,
there is less government money
available to build new homes.
This means that housing associations
have had to look at other ways of
funding new homes. Because of this,
you may start to see some of our new
homes advertised for different types of
Pillar Spring 2012
These new terms can be confusing, so
we’ve explained them here:
• Social rent – this is our normal rent for
existing tenants, and is set nationally.
• Discount market sale – these are
homes available to buy at a lower
cost than they would be on the open
market. To be eligible for discount
market sales, purchasers usually have
to be able to show a connection to
the local area. Discount market sale
homes are advertised through Holland
Broadbridge estate agents, when
• Affordable rent – this is a new type of
rent, which costs up to 80% of the open
market rent. Any homes that become
vacant can be considered for re-letting on
affordable rent levels, but will not affect
existing tenants unless they choose to
• Shared ownership – this is where
move to a property of this type.
you buy a share in a new home (usually
50%) and pay rent on the remaining
• Market rent – this is the equivalent
share. Shared ownership homes
rent that would be paid to a private
are also advertised through Holland
landlord and is often known as open
Broadbridge, when available.
Come and share your thoughts on your area
Estate walkabouts give you the
chance to join us for a walk around
the area you live in, and identify any
issues or concerns you may have.
Walkabouts are led by your local
Neighbourhood Ofﬁcer, along with
representatives from the council, the police
and other partner agencies.
Time and date
25 April at 2pm
16 May at 2pm
27 June at 2pm
18 July at 10am
Action plans are drawn up following each
walkabout, and copies are available from
our website: www.severnsidehousing.co.uk/walkabouts
Jubilations and Olympic Celebrations
We’re pleased to announce that this year’s Community Fayre will be held
on Saturday 9 June between 11am and 4pm at Shrewsbury College of
Arts and Technology (SCAT), off London Road in Shrewsbury.
After listening to your feedback, we’ve
moved the event for this year, and we’ll
be starting an hour later, so hopefully even
more people will be able to come along
and enjoy this free day out for all the family.
This year’s event will be themed around
the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee and
will have a real sports and health focus.
Activities will include football skills training,
zorbing, boxing taster sessions, archery
and climbing, as well as armchair bowling,
bingo and face painting.
There’ll also be a smoothie bike, where
you can pedal your favourite fruit into a
healthy drink, a chance to try different
foods from around the world and a
special Jubilee tea party.
We’ll be sending out invitations shortly,
so keep the date free – we look forward
to seeing you there! As with previous
years, help with transport is available for
Pillar Spring 2012
As with any large and growing organisation, alongside compliments about our
service, we get to know from you the areas where we could improve.
Wherever a complaint arises, we do all we can do to resolve the issue quickly. We then look
to see if there is anything we can change, and if so, how we can change it for the better.
Several complaints highlight the need for better communication – with our customers,
between our teams, and with our contractors. Here are some examples of how your
feedback has helped us improve our communications:
What has Severnside done?
We appointed a new company, AllPay, to process
direct debits on our behalf. However, we didn’t
let customers know. This meant that several of
you were surprised to see payments coming out
of your bank accounts to ‘AllPay’.
We review the direct debit system every two years. In future, we
will make sure we let all customers know if we are going to change
the processing company, and we have put it in our diaries to do
this at the next review in 2013.
A new tenancy had been granted but the new
tenant was annoyed that there were still a lot
of repairs to do. This was because we hadn’t
explained that some of the jobs would be done
after they had moved in.
Customers have worked with us to write a new ‘lettable’ standard.
This clearly sets out what the condition of a property should be
when a new tenancy is granted. This is given to everyone taking on
a new tenancy so they know what to expect. We will not let the
property until we are happy the property meets this standard.
A new tenant believed that a new kitchen would
be installed as soon as they moved in.
The letters sent to new tenants about kitchens have been changed
to make sure no one has any false expectations.
There was a delay in repairing cracks in a house
due to poor communication between teams
and the insurance company – everyone thought
someone else was dealing with the case.
Our legal team now carry out a regular review of outstanding
insurance claims so there is no misunderstanding as to what is
happening, and to make sure outstanding actions are chased up.
Our gas and heating contractor, PH Jones,
was slow in repairing solid fuel appliances and
customers waiting for these repairs were not
We have monthly managers’ meetings with our contractor to
check that they are putting things in place to improve the service
provided to customers who have solid fuel heating. PH Jones has
carried out further ‘toolbox talks’ with its engineers to drive home
the importance of accurate and timely information to customers.
A customer believed they had been granted
a new tenancy when this was not the case.
The Council had not told them their bid had
been unsuccessful and we did not correct the
information when they called us.
Improvements have been made in our customer service centre
to verify the progress of a customer’s application. We have put in
place security questions to allow information
to be shared.
We have been working with our involved customers to improve
communications in other ways, such as reviewing our leaﬂets,
designing new leaﬂets, and looking at different
communication methods such as texting customers. This
coming year, we will also be reviewing the Tenant Handbook.
In the meantime, we would like to thank everyone
who has taken the time to help us improve our
services. If you have any speciﬁc examples of how
we could further improve our communication, it
would be great to hear from you.
10 Pillar Spring 2012
DAWN’S SENATE BLOG
Hello to everyone!
Well it has been a very busy few months for the Senate. We
are making positive plans for the Senate’s future and how we
are going to be an active positive voice for all tenants.
The Senate led a session at the Resident Conference which,
once people knew what we are about, was very positive.
The Senate members had a very interesting and positive
Away Day in which all Senate members worked hard and
believe me there was an awful lot of discussion , many
Firstly the Senate has two new members. Interviews took
different views voiced but in the end we all came together to
place just before Christmas and I am pleased to say that
move forward. I am happy to say that by the end of the day
Steve Townsend and Heather Perkins have joined the Senate.
we were all very enthusiastic with the plan for the Senate’s
Both Steve and Heather have many skills to bring to the
work over the next year which will cover four themes:
Senate and are very much willing to take the Senate forward.
• how the Senate links with other resident groups to feed
key points up to the Board and feed back the results of this;
• how Senate will make sure Severnside’s new ideas and
policies have a tenant perspective, and
• agreeing a set of customer standards.
I will let you know how we get on in the next Blog!
If there is anything you would like the Senate to know
about, you can contact us in person, by email
[email protected] or by leaving a
message for the legal team or
community development team.
If you are aged 15 or under, try our spot the difference competition for a chance
to win a £20 shopping voucher. Circle the 10 differences on the right picture, ﬁll
in you details below and send your entry to us by Friday 13 April 2012.
Name ............................................................................... Age ...............
..................................................... Telephone ..........................................
Send your entries to:
Matt Critchley, Severnside
Road, Old Potts Way,
Shrewsbury, SY3 7FA.
Pillar Spring 2012 11
Any words spring to mind? £20
Find the ten spring-themed
words for a chance to win a
Send us your entry by Friday 13 April
(who says you won’t be lucky?) to be
entered into the draw. The ﬁrst correct
entry drawn will win the prize.
Send to Matt Critchley, Severnside
Housing, Brassey Road, Old Potts
Way, Shrewsbury, SY3 7FA.
Find these 10 words:
If you would like any more information about
Severnside Housing, please contact us:
Write to us
Severnside Housing, Brassey Road,
Old Potts Way, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY3 7FA
01743 285000 or 0845 234 2424
Visit our website
Find us on Facebook
Severnside Housing provides a
telephone interpreting service for
more than 150 languages and can
provide this document in a range
´ potrzebna jest jakakolwiek
pomoc w zrozumieniu niniejszego
dokumentu, lub potrzebne jest
tumaczenie na inny jezyk, prosze o
telefon na numer 0845 2342424.
Os hoffech gael cymorth i ddeall y
ddogfen yma, neu os hoffech gael
ei chyﬁeithu i iaith arall, ffoniwch
This document is also available in:
Registered number: Tenant Services Authority LH4325 • A company limited by guarantee. Company No. 04025816