Construction begins on £28m Thrybergh housing partnership development

Left to Right: Paul Staley (Managing Director PRS at Wise Living), Councillor Dominic Beck (Cabinet Member for Housing at Rotherham Council), Helen Wright (Project Director at Sanctuary) and Raymond Kinsella (Head of Neighbourhoods for the Yorkshire region at Great Places).

Raymond Kinsella, our Head of Neighbourhoods for the Yorkshire region, recently joined Cabinet Member for Housing Councillor Dominic Beck and partners on site to celebrate the official start of work on a £28million affordable housing development in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

The partnership led by energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE will transform two brownfield sites at Whinney Hill and Chesterhill Avenue, Thrybergh, creating 237 much needed homes for local people.

Great Places Housing Group along with Sanctuary Homes and Wise Living will offer 135 homes for affordable rent, 80 homes for market rent and 11 homes for shared ownership, on land provided by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council for this flagship development.

Raymond said: “We’re thrilled to be delivering a range of new homes on what is a flagship development. It will deliver much-needed affordable homes in Rotherham, all made possible by the power of partnerships. We’ll be working with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Sanctuary and Wise Living to ensure this development becomes fully integrated within this thriving neighbourhood.

“Affordable housing continues to be a key priority for all of the areas we operate in and Great Places remains committed to creating great homes across a wide variety of communities.”

Food Works

Food Works is a citywide organisation, based on the edge of Wybourn on Woodbourn Road, that receives hundreds of tonnes of unused food from businesses and individuals every year. They make sure this food is put to good use, preserving the time and energy that has gone into producing it and so reducing the environmental impact of our food.

Great Places has been supporting local residents through their partnership with Food Works. At the start of the first lockdown, Great Places made a financial donation so Food Works could continue and expand their service to support communities. Their food box service from Unit 5, Woodbourn Road, remained open for any resident to collect for a £1 donation, whilst a new pre-prepared meal delivery service was introduced for residents who were required to self-isolate or were having issues accessing or cooking food. Great Places was able to refer customers and 91 meals were delivered to residents free of charge.

Great Places continues to work with Food Works supporting projects where local residents learn the skills to produce food for their local neighbourhoods. This involves cooking classes in schools and community growing spaces.

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.

Financial support to customers in need during the pandemic

Great Places recently awarded £100 from the financial support fund to Miss Smith, a customer who recently found herself struggling to cover rent, fuel and food costs as a result of financial circumstances changing due to the current climate.

Miss Smith a mother of two, had a job working in a family run café up until the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately when the virus hit, the small café found themselves in a position unable to make wage payments after closing during lockdown.

Miss Smith was already claiming Universal Credit due to her income level, but despite notifying the relevant authorities there was a significant delay in receiving her payment. This left Miss Smith struggling financially. During these difficult times she had been visiting Food Works for some support and was also able to get financial help from her extended family for a short period of time, but this wasn’t sustainable due to their own financial concerns.

Great Places were able to award £100 to Miss Smith, giving her some financial breathing space enabling her to manage the money carefully – the £100 provided a much-needed bridge until her Universal Credit income payments were increased.

If you need help and support during these times, please speak to your Customer Relationship Manager who can advise you on the local services available.

We’ve partnered with Crossroads Refuge to provide homes to victims of domestic abuse

Creating strong partnerships with local charities and community groups is part of our plan to help neighbourhoods thrive and to ensure customers to have access to the services they need.

We’ve recently developed a partnership with Crossroads Derbyshire, a charitable organisation that provides help and support to the victims of domestic abuse.

Established in 1979, Crossroads Derbyshire (previously Glossop Women’s Aid) has been supporting women and children suffering from domestic violence for more than 35 years. The organisation relies heavily on funding and donations and earlier this year we donated £10,000 from our Equity Foundation, to support the refurbishment of the refuge providing much needed furniture and equipment.

Through our partnership, in addition to the funding, we have also been able to provide much needed accommodation to the organisation, to enable victims to move on from the refuge, into a safe and secure home, where they can live independently.

So far this year we have provided four properties, all of which have become part of the next step for the victims of domestic abuse to gain their independence. The tenancy is managed by Crossroads and provides the additional help and support to customers, to ensure they have access to the services they need.

Development of new homes in Hollingworth given the green light

Working in partnerships with residential developer Mulbury, we have secured planning permission to create 57 new affordable homes in Hollingworth, on the boarder of Derbyshire, near Glossop.

The new £7.3m development will transform the derelict site of the former Organ Public House in Market Street. The pub building, which closed in 2015, will be converted into five apartments with the rest of the 3.6-acre site being used to accommodate 52 new homes.

The development will offer a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes and will be made available for shared ownership and affordable rent. The new homes feature black-buff stone detailing with cream render, grey roof tiles and anthracite grey doors, creating modern, affordable family homes.

Work on the site will start in December 2020, with the development expected to complete in the autumn of 2022.

Helen Spencer, Director of Development at Great Places, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Mulbury again, and that planning has been approved to move forward with these much needed affordable homes in Tameside.

“The mixed-tenure site will offer choice for customers, and we expect it to prove popular. As a group, we are actively contributing to tackling the housing crisis and providing affordable quality housing across the North West and Yorkshire.”

We’ve invested over £400k into improving Portobello House

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 twelve months we’ve undertaken a programme of investment works to Portobello House in Sheffield, upgrading the 27 properties and the communal areas of the scheme.

So far we have invested over £400k into the building improvements which have included fitting new communal entrance doors along with a new door entry system, to improve the access and security to the building. The building has also benefited from new rear fire doors, to enhance the fire safety measures in place. All communal windows have also been replaced with new UPV units.

Along with replacing and installing new modern bathrooms to each home, all properties have also received new UPV windows, to make the homes more energy efficient and help reduce energy costs for customers.

The improvement work is set to continue in 2021, with further improvements being made with the installation of new communal fire doors.

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, are 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.