We’ve invested over £400k into improving Foxlair Court in Wythenshawe

As part of our commitment to creating homes that meet the needs of our customers and are to a decent standard, each year we plan a schedule of improvements to our properties.

Over the last 12 months we’ve undertaken a programme of investment works to Foxlair Court in Wythenshawe, one of our sheltered schemes for older people.

So far we have invested over £400k into the building improvements which have included a refurbishment of all communal areas. The lounge has been remodelled with a new extension and a modern fitted kitchen has been installed. New LED lighting has been fitted throughout the scheme along with new fire rated communal doors, as well as a new entry door system to improve access and security to the scheme. Work was also completed to improve the decoration of the communal meeting room and a new scooter store room has been created.

Further improvements have also been made to every flat with new flat entry doors and an upgraded warden call system, providing the support and reassurance customers need to live independently.

Outside of the scheme has also benefitted from improvements, with new external lighting installed and an extension to the car park, as well as a newly installed patio area to the rear of the scheme.

The improvement works to Foxlair Court are almost complete with the replacement of the communal lounge windows due to be done before the end of the year.

Warm and Safer Homes Advice – helping customers to become more energy efficient and save money

Recognising the increased financial pressure the pandemic was going to have on communities, Great Places developed an enhanced partnership with National Energy Action (NEA) early in the first lockdown.

NEA is a national charity working to ensure everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is safe and warm in their homes.

Customers struggling to afford to top-up their energy meters can receive - when referred by Great Places, an emergency top-up of £29 for individuals and £49 for families.

For those customers who do not qualify for the emergency meter top-up, there’s still support on offer from the National Energy Action’s ‘Warm and Safe Homes’ (WASH)support service. Customers are able to speak with NEA Advisors to receive advice on energy efficiency savings and how to switch to better value for money suppliers. They can also help you access fuel grants and trust fund applications to reduce any existing fuel debt.

If you feel like you need some extra support, or advice on to access the Warm and Safer Homes support service, please contact your Customer Relationship Manager for more information.

Spotlight on mental health

We’ve been helping a customer who has been struggling to cope with their mental health and substance addictions.

They had not been able to maintain their property and had become confined to living in one room as they struggled with the cleaning.

A referral was made to one of our Tenancy Coaches who worked with them to gain access to the property.

Lockdown created significant challenges but despite the restrictions, the team ploughed on and were able to help get the customer’s home cleared, with a deep clean and disinfestation service.

We were also able to get our Repairs Team in to complete the works that were outstanding on the property.

The customer has indicated they would cope better in a one-bedroom property rather than in the two-bedroom house they currently occupy.

Now that the customer has managed to clear the debts against the utilities on the property, they’ve registered on Salford Homesearch.

This could have been a very different situation but with the hard work and determination of the customer, our colleagues and our partners, we were able to get a positive result.

Inspiring service in Levenshulme

Great Places is providing support to our partners at the Inspire Centre in Levenshulme who are doing amazing work to help people during the Covid-19 crisis.

The centre runs the Inspired Peoples Project, supporting elderly people.

When the first lockdown was imposed, the centre developed the Meal Buddies on Wheels project where nutritious meals were delivered to people in the community three times a week.

The centre has also been successful with many funding bids which has enabled them to deliver a Phone A Friend Scheme and continue with our partnership project ‘The Bread and Butter Thing’ every Friday.

If you need any extra support during this time or are interested in volunteering at The Inspire Centre, please contact us on 0161 850 5717.

Help where it’s needed most

We understand this may be an extremely difficult time for some of our customers, which is why we’ve set up a dedicated fund to help customers hardest hit by the pandemic.

The fund is intended to bridge a gap between a crisis event and statutory provision or return to work. It’s there to support all customers with emergency access to food, fuel (gas, electricity and water bills) or other essential items through discretionary bank payments.

One customer got in contact with her Customer Relationship Manager to say she was really struggling to pay her rent and also access essential food items. Alongside this, she needed to get new school uniforms for her children and didn’t know how she would be able to.

The difficulties arose due to the pandemic and a recent change in benefits meant there had been some big changes to her budget.

We were able to provide the customer with the funds to be able to buy the school uniform for her children and she then set up an arrangement to pay rent and arrears.

Alongside the payment, the Customer Relationship Manager also supported with signposting to food banks and other charities who may be able to help her in the future.

If you need any help and support, please contact your Customer Relationship Manager.

Matt’s big day out

Great Places’ Chief Exec Matt Harrison has had a busy day away from the desk recently as he travelled across Greater Manchester with our Community Investment, Development and Equity Living Teams.

Matt’s day started out in Salford with the Community Investment Team visiting Lucie’s Pantry. Lucie’s Pantry is a social supermarket which provides a sustainable and affordable source of food and household essentials to local residents who are struggling to make ends meet. They are working with Foundation 92, part of Salford FC, to deliver sessions that teach local families how to keep active and eat healthily.

Great Places, along with a number of other registered providers in Salford, have a partnership with Foundation 92 to support Salford Council’s healthy living strategy. They have recently developed a community sports provision programme that takes place in Seedley and Langworthy, one of our anchor neighbourhoods, which places an emphasis on staying active and healthy.

Matt met with Tom from Foundation 92 to see what’s been going on and what it is that Great Places is doing to support healthy living in Salford.

From here, Matt visited Salford Lifestyle Centre which is a community co-operative serving our customers in Broughton. The centre has been successful in gaining £30,000 of external funding to help them in their post-Covid recovery. On his visit, Matt met with centre owner Nick Burne to see how it plans to spend the funding to benefit those in the local community.

Need support with managing your finances? Our Money Advice Service is here to help

We all need help managing our finances from time to time. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties, there are lots of ways you can seek help and advice.

Our Money Advice Service is a completely free service which can help you deal with your financial matters and also check if you are claiming all the benefits that you are entitled to. This service has also helped many customers deal with their debts by communicating with creditors on their behalf, making affordable agreements and in some cases, having debts written off. So far this year we have helped 86 customers in financial difficulty through the service, generating over £35,000 of income for affected customers.

There are lots of companies out there who can also offer support surrounding budgeting and debt and we can help to put you in touch with these specialist agencies. If you are experiencing difficulty with paying your energy and fuel bills, we can help. We can negotiate with energy suppliers on your behalf to work on a suitable repayment plan and we can also help with any disputes you may have, for example if your energy usage is too high due to a faulty meter.

If you have recently moved onto receiving Universal Credit and you are waiting for your first payment, we may be able to support you with your energy and fuel bills with a fuel voucher. We work with an agency, National Energy Advice, that can support you by assessing your energy consumption and advise you on how to reduce your fuel costs. We also have a range of information on how you can heat your home efficiently, along with how you can look for the best energy tariff.

To find out more about the Money Advice Service or to speak to one of our Money Advisors please contact MoneyAdvice@equityhousing.co.uk.

If your circumstances have recently changed, you may be entitled to claim benefits. Please get in touch with your Customer Relationship Manager to find out how we can help.