One of the main areas of work for the Community Housing Team is viewings and lettings of vacant properties. During the last year, we re-let 190 properties along with the second phase of the new scheme at Coed y Llan in Llanidloes and the flats at Glan y Dwr in Newtown (which came to a total of 18 properties).
Unfortunately, another area of work for the Community Housing team is to tackle anti-social behaviour and other breaches of tenancy. In this last year, the team has handled 29 serious anti-social behaviour cases. This included seven very serious cases, which resulted in the team having to take court action for possession of property. In two of those seven cases, we also had to seek anti-social behaviour injunctions in an attempt to stop the tenancy breaches whilst full possession of the properties was being sought from the court.
The team continued with the Association’s “Love where you Live” events; an umbrella project in which a number of community events are held along the length and breadth of Ceredigion and Powys. During this year, we held events such as pumpkin carving and soup making, afternoon teas, planting up and displaying hanging baskets, litter picking, speed awareness, fun days and baking and cake decorating. These events are a major part of our preventative approach; stopping anti-social behaviour from beginning in the first place.
The team made excellent use of our £15,000 Estate Improvement budget. We were able to use this budget to install cctv systems in a number of schemes where anti-social behaviour was a particular issue. Blocks of flats in Welshpool and Llandrindod Wells had equipment either installed for the first time, or the existing system upgraded. This investment has proved to be invaluable for both ourselves and other agencies such as the Police.
There has been a strong focus on establishing community groups this year. A number of groups have been set up in Llandrindod Wells and Welshpool and mentoring will continue. Residents in these areas are reclaiming their communities, with benefits to all around.
We have had a busy year in Community Participation; since taking over the role of Community Participation Officer in July last year, I have endeavoured to keep up all of the active participation and projects previously undertaken as well as arranging new projects and events across the counties during the year.
Chips and Chat
Chips and Chat is a monthly meeting held in different areas across Powys and Ceredigion. It is a good opportunity to talk about the things that are important to residents regarding their homes, and a chance to hear about the activities of Mid-Wales Housing Association. Since July, we have held Chips and Chat events in 10 areas, with 61 tenants attending sessions across both counties. The Citizens Advice Bureau have attended many of the events and as a result of their advice, residents have saved money on bills. A resident who was present said:
"It has saved me such a lot of money"
"Chips and Chat was really helpful, and helped me to get a better service"
General comments from the meetings have been positive, here are some of the comments made:
"It has been very good and very helpful"
"Very helpful and informative"
"An interesting get together to air our problems, good to hear about what Mid-Wales Housing have in the pipeline"
Tenants’ & Residents’ Forum (TaRF)
Tenants’ & Residents’ Forum (TaRF) is a group made up of tenants and residents, who meet bi-monthly to review policies and discuss issues relating to the running of Mid-Wales Housing Association. We have had seven TaRF meetings during the year. We have recruited one new member and we currently have seven tenants on the Forum. We always welcome new members to this forum and would encourage interested residents to contact us for further information. I would like to thank current members for their commitment, hard work and dedication to improving services.
Community Development Fund
The Community Development Fund supports communities to work together to improve the environment in which they live. Residents can apply for up to £5,000 to develop their project ideas.
This year we have completed five projects at a total of £9,000. Projects have included a garden at Montpellier Court in Llandrindod, flowerbeds in William Ainge Court in Welshpool, new communal area carpets in two of our large buildings, a new satellite aerial in Newtown and £5,000 towards a village playground in Sarn.
Day Trips and Events
We organise trips for some of our supported and leaseholder schemes. This year a group from Gerddi Rheidol and Llys Hen Ysgol, Aberystwyth visited Gregynog Hall, near Newtown. The librarian at Gregynog gave a fascinating talk about the Davies sisters and their art collection. We had lunch at Gregynog followed by a guided tour around the Davies sisters’ former home. The trips encourage our older residents to meet with each other, spend time together and to enjoy new experiences.
And for the younger generation, in the autumn half term, we took eight energetic young people, aged 8-13, to Staylittle Outdoor Pursuits centre for a day of activities. The young people enjoyed archery and raft building, and then paddled their raft across the Clywedog Lake. The young people thoroughly enjoyed the day, and it was a great opportunity for our young tenants to learn new skills, build confidence, discover new abilities and make new friends, it was also an opportunity for Mid-Wales Housing staff to find out more from young people about what is important to them in their homes and communities.
Other projects we are involved in during the year include The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, where we will be planting green areas on Mid-Wales Housing estates, with wild flowers in order to encourage and attract bees.
Edible Mach Maethlon, is an initiative in Machynlleth to plant fruit and vegetables in communal sites around the town, as well as a community garden for residents to pick produce and enjoy.
We have also arranged a quiz afternoon and flower arranging at Bodlondeb, Llanidloes, sherry and mince pie event and art classes at Gerddi Rheidol and Llys Hen Ysgol, Aberystwyth.
I have also been involved in the ‘love where you live’ prevention agenda with the Community Housing Team, where we have provided cake baking with young tenants, pumpkin carving, an afternoon tea, fun day and skip days.
Canal Boat trips
The Heulwen Trust run canal boat trips from Welshpool, along the canal, providing an opportunity for our supported housing residents and their support workers to enjoy a day out on the Montgomeryshire canal. Both canal boats have hydraulic lifts, to enable easy access for wheelchair users. This year we held five canal boat trips with over 50 people attending. It was so popular we will be running trips again this year. Those who attended said:
"Thank you, really enjoyed the trip"
"Nice, relaxing day out"
Community Participation Officer