Catalyst magazine, autumn issue

PAGE 2: Welcome

Welcome

I would like to introduce myself as the new Interim Executive Director of Customer Services. I’m very excited to join Catalyst as it has a great track record, and more importantly many opportunities lie ahead for the organisation. I’ve worked in housing, development and regeneration for over 20 years. Before I joined Catalyst, I was Director of Operations and Business Transformation at East Kent Housing and Chief Executive of Haringey ALMO.

Since joining in early September I’ve been visiting residents at our sheltered housing schemes, walking around estates with neighbourhood managers and checking the standard of our areas with the environmental services team. This has already given me great insight into how Catalyst can improve and become renowned for services to customers.

I also want to know what customers think of our services and how we can make them better. This is something we constantly strive to do, and in this issue you will find examples of where we have improved our services based on your feedback. See pages 8–9 and page 18 for more details. To make sure every Catalyst customer has the chance to give me their views, I’ll be holding a live Facebook Q&A session on November 3 (see below for more details).

I’ll also be going along to residents’ events over the coming months. Please take this opportunity to give me your feedback and tell me what we can do to improve your home, neighbourhood and area. I hope you enjoy the latest issue and look forward to seeing and hearing from you in the coming weeks.

Paul Bridge

Interim Executive Director of Customer Services

PAGE 3: News

Live Facebook session with Paul

Paul Bridge, our new Interim Executive Director of Customer Services, wants to know what you think about how we can improve our customer service at Catalyst.

So if you have an idea or feel there’s something you think Paul should know about, just ask him or let him know during our live Facebook Q&A session.

Paul will be answering your questions on Tuesday 3 November from 1pm to 2pm.

To take part:

  • Visit us on Facebook – Catalyst Housing Ltd
  • Tweet us @CatalystHousing or @ContactCatalyst using the hashtag #AskPaul

If you can’t join us during the live session, just email your questions to communications@chg.org.uk and we’ll ask Paul during the session.

 Join us on inspections

We carry out inspections on our properties and estates every three months to make sure they are of a high standard.

What you can check

  • The upkeep and condition of your property and the surrounding area.
  • The quality of the cleaning, caretaking and ground maintenance service.
  • Whether there are any unreported or outstanding repairs or maintenance issues.
  • If and how we take on your recommendations for improvements.

What’s in it for you?

You’ll get the chance to:

  • go on free training so you can develop your skills, knowledge and experience
  • rate the maintenance of your area and influence how services are delivered.

When can I come along?

To find out when we’ll be inspecting your area visit www.chg.org.uk/estateinspections

To book your place call your neighbourhood manager on 0300 456 2099 (London customers) or 0300 456 2090 (South East customers).

A tonne collected for food bank

We collected over a tonne – 1,046.96kg to be exact – of food at Tesco’s Food Bank Drive. Our teams headed down to Tesco’s store in Perivale, West London, to ask shoppers to dig a little bit deeper into their pockets and donate something to the food bank.

During the day team members also weighed and packed the donated food and loaded it onto vans so the food could be dropped off to the people who need it most. All the food we collected will be donated to the food bank at Hanwell Community Centre.

Tesco also topped up 30% of the monetary value of the donated goods – they gave £1.80 for every kg of donated goods. As we collected 1,046.96kgs, Tesco will give £565.39 (cash) to the food bank which they can spend on anything.

Visit www.trusselltrust.org/map to find your nearest food bank.

PAGES 4 AND 5: IN YOUR AREA

Everyone needs good neighbours (Hounslow)

Over 10 Feltham families turned out to our meet and greet day at Vantage Place in August for a chance to get to know their neighbours and meet the Catalyst teams.

The fun-packed afternoon also included a DIY workshop, a cake competition and delicious Caribbean food. A DJ and a children’s entertainer were also on hand to make sure our younger residents had some fun.

Local resident Mr Humes said: “I was so happy to meet my neighbours and get to know how they came together as a community. We discussed ideas on how we could make improvements around our homes.”

For more details on how you can get involved at Catalyst, visit www.chg.org.uk/getinvolved

Festival brings community spirit (Oxford)

Hundreds of Oxford residents turned out to the annual Leys Festival in September. The event was opening by Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, and then kicked off with a performance by the band Horns of Plenty.

Young people and families also took part in a range of activities including go-karting, rock climbing and tennis. The Catalyst and Green Square gazebo was one of the busiest during the festival. And it’s no wonder… people could make fruit mocktails, collect fresh food, learn about ‘Love Food Hate Waste’, and get information on loan sharks, as well as blind taste branded and non-branded foods.

John Kehoe, chair of the Catalyst Residents Federation, was also on hand to talk about how residents can get involved at Catalyst and have their say on our services.

For more details about our community work call Catalyst Gateway, our community investment team, on 0300 456 2060 or visit www.chg.org.uk/gateway

Dee Park: residents now moving in (Reading)

We’re happy to report that our regeneration work at Dee Park in Reading is progressing well. Residents have already moved into 20 of the 145 planned new homes and so far we’ve received very positive feedback.

We’ve also completed 28 flats for social rent at Stronsay House and families will be moving into these shortly. In addition, work has started on the 10 two-bedroom shared ownership houses which people will be able to buy on a part buy/part rent basis.

his phase (2B) of the project includes building 28 apartments for social rent, 107 houses for private sale, 21 flats for private sale and 10 shared ownership houses. We’ve also built new retail units, local offices for Catalyst and Reading Borough Council, and a social enterprise community café as part of the regeneration.

To get the latest news about our regeneration projects visit www.chg.org.uk/regeneration

Help you manage you do$H

Financial inclusion officers Corrine Williams and Nadine Hughes, who work on our do$h programme, have been visiting community centres and sheltered housing schemes to give residents advice on banking, bills and budgeting.

They’ve worked with residents to:

  • identify their incomings and outgoings
  • develop a household budget and prioritise their debts
  • claim the right benefits, apply for grants, reduce their utility bills and explore other sources of income • offer support to help negotiate affordable repayment plans with creditors
  • identify suitable banking products including affordable credit.

If you live in the boroughs of Brent, Ealing or Westminster, do$h can help you. Just call Corrine or Nadine on 0300 456 2060. Or email corrine.williams@chg.org.uk or nadine.hughes@chg.org.uk

More than people enjoyed Brent Summer Project 2015

 A real community centre

It was another successful year for the Brent Summer Project 2015, with scores of young people taking part in the annual event.

The programme offered a range of fantastic activities to capture everyone’s hearts, interests and skills. Creative organisation Art4Space ran arts workshops and worked with young people to create a mosaic art piece which now adorns the wall of the Unity Centre.

The fun packed project ended with a finale where over 360 people turned out to watch the young people showcase the skills they learned at our music, dance and fashion workshops. The Unity Centre is home to many activities including exercise sessions, coffee mornings, money advice workshops and a range of initiatives for young people.

TO GET INVOLVED;

  • Call: 020 8955 1780
  • Email: unitycentre@chg.org.uk
  • Visit: 103 Church Road London NW10 9EG

PAGES 6 AND 7: BETTER LIFE

A kitchen Delia would be jealous of

With a delightful kitchen, a spacious balcony and lots of natural light coming into their apartment, it’s no wonder Mr and Mrs Harrison are pleased with their new home at Kilburn Park in Brent.

“I always dreamed of having a large kitchen” says Mrs Harrison. “I cooked so much during the first three months. I couldn’t leave it alone. I love it.”

The new kitchen has also brought about positive change to family life at the Harrisons. “At Christmas we had all the family down, all sitting round the table. In the old place you had to sit with it on your lap. Now we don’t eat anything in the living room. This is totally different to anything I’ve ever had before,” says Mrs Harrison.

The Harrisons moved into their new home at Kilburn Park in late 2014. Over the last three years we’ve built 208 new homes as part of Brent Council’s regeneration of South Kilburn, and the Harrison’s home is just one of them.

This isn’t the first big change in South Kilburn that Mr Harrison has experienced. A kitchen Delia would be jealous of Almost 60 years ago he saw the rise of 16 storey concrete towers that housed around 70 families in the area. These are now being torn down as part of the regeneration of South Kilburn.

“I thoroughly recommend having smaller blocks like this. Twenty three families is a nice number,” he says when we observe how quiet the building is. As well as the layout of the building, the windows have also helped to reduce the noise.

“If you shut the windows you don’t hear a thing. It’s fantastic really. Especially compared to our old place. It was double glazed and you could hear everything. You could hear sirens and planes flying by. But here, nothing. It’s amazing.”

A final important change for Mrs Harrison has been the amount of light in the new home. Large windows throughout the apartment mean that it captures sunlight throughout the day. This is perfect for growing orchids. “I was given an orchid at my son’s wedding three years ago. It never blossomed in our old home but now it looks beautiful.”

Catalyst homes

Rent a home

If you’re an existing Catalyst tenant and would like to move home, please contact your neighbourhood manager on 0300 456 2099 (London customers) or 0300 456 2090 (South East customers).

If you’re not a Catalyst tenant and would like to rent one of our homes, please contact your local council.

Buy a home

We offer a range of home ownership opportunities including shared ownership, outright sales, pre-owned homes and equity loans.

To find out more call 0300 456 2076 or visit www.chg.org.uk/buy-a-home

Kensington regeneration wins design award

Our regeneration of the Wornington Green estate in north Kensington, picked up the coveted Mayor’s Design Award at the Housing Design Awards 2015.

The Housing Design Awards are the longest running awards of their type in the country. They were set up by Aneurin Bevan in 1948, who at the time was minister for health and responsible for housing.

Established and still controlled by central government, this is the awards programme which all the others aspire to be. This success is a great endorsement of what we’re doing in Kensington.

Our regeneration programme involves transforming the 538-home Wornington Green estate into a mixed community of over 1,000 homes. Through great design and a lot of consultation with the community, we are creating not just award-winning homes but a place where people want to live.

For more information on our regeneration projects visit www.chg.org.uk/regeneration

PAGES 8 AND 9: WE’RE LISTENING

Repairs: #MakingItEasy

We’re committed to making it easy for you to get the service you need from us. Voluntas, an independent market research company, calls our customers every month to find out what you think about the service you’ve recently received from us.

Here is a summary of what you said about our repairs service and how we’re improving it.

Customer satisfaction

In the 12 months up to the end of August 2015, 82% of residents told us you were fairly or very satisfied with the repairs service you received.

What one thing could we do differently to improve our repairs service?

  • Communicate better “They have to follow things up. Communicate better with the tenant about what’s happening.” (Ealing)
  • “More communication between phone staff and contractors. Make sure contractors are more informed.” (Kensington)
  • Improve appointment times “They need to be more flexible around people who work, as I had lots of people showing up when I was working so I couldn’t get the repair done.” (Brent)
  • “Maybe have a phone call one or two hours before they are coming.” (Ealing)

Improve how long it takes to complete a repair

  • “The appointments take too long, normally it’s three weeks. They are fine but waiting is too long.” (Ealing)
  • “Make it quicker, there is too much faffing around, and better communication.” (Oxford)

What we did

  • Improved information and training for our customer service officers, surveyors, maintenance contract supervisors and repairs appointments planners, to better understand your repair.
  • Worked with our contractors to increase the number of jobs completed on the first visit and tightened up the process for booking follow-up appointments.
  • Used your priorities and suggested improvements to influence the service standards within our new agreements with our repairs contractors.
  • Told our contractors where you’re unhappy with our service. They’ll be making improvements based on your feedback.

Your compliments

When we get things right, your positive feedback helps us understand what you value most. See below for what residents told us they were happy with about our repairs service.

  • “They said they were going to come at 10am and they came at 10am. They came and did a clean job.” (Barnet)
  • “I have found everything to be satisfactory on this occasion; they were fast enough and handled my request efficiently.” (Oxford)
  • “They’ve been very good now. They should just keep it up.” (Ealing)

Get involved

If Voluntas contacts you to ask your feedback about our services, please take the time to talk to them. We’ll use your view to improve our services. Anything you tell Voluntas is treated as confidential and we’ll only contact you to find out more if you tell Voluntas we can do so. Voluntas follows a strict code of conduct and any information you give them will be treated in line with data protection law.

For more information on how we use your personal information, please look at our privacy policy available at www.chg.org.uk/privacy-policy

Catalyst census

Thanks to the 8,500 households that took part in the Catalyst census, we’re starting to get a much better understanding of the types of people who live in our homes. This is important, as the more we understand about you, the more we’re able to design our services around what you need from us.

Who lives with who

Almost a third of our tenants and shared owners told us they live alone. Another third have children under the age of 16 living at home, and around the same number have someone over the age of 55 living in the household. Knowing more about who you do or don’t live with, and whether there are similar types of households in your area, helps us target our local services so they better suit you and the other homes in your area. It also means you’re less likely to hear from us about our services that aren’t applicable to you.

In work

We found out that just under half of our tenants and over 85% of our shared owners are working. Around one in six tenants is retired and only one in every 20 is looking for a job. Of the quarter of households where residents are not currently looking for work, the main reason was due to illness or disability, although some residents were also caring for children or another adult.

Access to the internet

Over two thirds of tenants and 90% of shared owners told us they have regular access to the internet. Most people access the internet from home; however many people also access it via their smartphones. It’s not only residents who can access the internet that are important to us – it’s crucial that we know that around a quarter of residents don’t have regular access to the internet. We’re looking at ways to make this easier and knowing who these residents are means we can focus on helping them more than the residents who already use the internet regularly.

Finally, we want to thank more than a third of our households who told us they were happy to take part in any future research and consultations that might affect you. We’ve already contacted some of you to find out more about your experience of using the internet, which has helped to shape our digital strategy. As we already had all of your information from the census, we didn’t have to ask about it again and could focus on what we really needed to know about.

PAGES 10 AND 11: BETTER LIFE

Express yourself

What better way to express yourself than with a microphone in your hand and your fellow supporters behind you?

That’s exactly what young people from the Windmill Park estate, in Southall, did at our summer consultation event. But before they told us what they think of their neighbourhood, the young people headed down to Westside Radio station in Hanwell to practise their lyrics and moves.

Then on the day over a hundred local people watched the youngsters ‘express themselves’ and tell us how we can improve life on their estate. At the event, local people also had the chance to tell us what they think of Windmill Park. We’ll be using the great responses we received to develop a neighbourhood strategy for the area.

People gave us their views at three feedback stations in the community centre. Using post-it notes they covered a wall with the many great things about their community, from their friendly neighbours to beautiful green spaces. We then asked them to show us where they lived and where there were challenging issues – such as anti-social behaviour – by positioning different coloured pins on a map of the area.

Residents often tell us how important community spirit is to our neighbourhoods. That’s why we also asked them which support they already access in their community and what they’d like to see introduced. And if people were stuck for ideas, they only had to head outside for inspiration. There was something for everyone, with local community partners encouraging locals to get involved with balloon animals, body art, barbecue food, boxing, bench-pressing and ball games.

Next steps

So what will we do with the information you gave us?

“The important feedback and ideas from residents will shape the neighbourhood strategy that we’re developing with the help of the local authority and other key local stakeholders,” explains Joe Marshall, Catalyst Business Development Manager.

“We’ll then use this strategy to prioritise improvements and investment at Windmill Park in the future. By working with residents at consultation events like the one at Windmill Park, we can make sure that we’re creating safe, supportive neighbourhoods for you, the people who live there.”

Sing it out

Some residents decided to give us their feedback a little differently at the event. The Windmill Park Youth Club shared their views in song! So how did that come about? At the start of the summer we invited youth club members to write down how they feel about where they live.

We then funded local music technology teacher Reuben Griffiths to run a six-week course that taught young people how to turn their words into lyrics and their lyrics into music. Their big debut came at the consultation event where two of the youngest members of the group each performed a song. A huge round of applause (and a standing ovation) to all involved!

Find out more

Catalyst Gateway, our community investment team, runs and funds a wide range of projects including youth mentoring schemes, apprenticeship programmes, gardening clubs and even exercise classes. To get involved call 0300 456 2060 or visit www.chg.org.uk/gateway

PAGE 12: BETTER LIFE

Ssshhh, I can’t hear anything…

We know that the one thing that causes more problems than anything else between neighbours is noise. So please be considerate to your neighbours by keeping the noise down.

Tips to keep the noise down

  • Don’t play music or the TV too loudly. To reduce the noise, turn down the bass on the system, especially after 11pm.
  • If you’re having a party, let your neighbours know beforehand or, even better, invite them along.
  • Carry out noisy activities (such as using power tools or playing musical instruments) at a reasonable time – not early in the morning or late at night.
  • If you have wooden or laminated flooring, lay down rugs or mats. = Slamming any door can cause a disturbance, so close them gently. This includes car doors, front doors, communal entrance doors and other doors in your home.
  • Place noisy equipment (such as dishwashers, stereos and TVs) on carpets or rubber mats to reduce the vibration.

What can I do to resolve it?

At first try speaking to your neighbour – this is often the quickest and easiest way to solve the issue. We can also arrange mediation between neighbours as a way of helping people resolve their conflict. If that doesn’t work, please let us know about the problem. We’ll give you a diary sheet so you can keep an accurate record of any incidents – dates, times and what happened. This will help us collect evidence which we can use if we need to take the person to court. While we can’t promise a quick fix, we can help to get issues resolved.

Evidence is key

For one resident – who had a persistent problem with constant noise from their neighbour – keeping detailed evidence was crucial in helping to resolve the issue. The resident said: “We worked with Catalyst to get the evidence to support the case. We’d been keeping logs, noting down the times the police were called and when the music started. “I’m so grateful to Colin, our neighbourhood manager, for all his support. He really pushed everything on as quickly as he could.” In this extreme case, tough action was the only way to resolve the issue, and the nuisance neighbours were eventually evicted following the evidence gathered by the resident and Catalyst.

How can I report anti-social behaviour

  • Call us: 0300 456 2099 (London customers) or 0300 456 2090 (South East customers)
  • Fill in a report on our website at chg.org.uk

PAGE 13: YOUR MONEY

Keep warm for less

It may be tempting to leave your heating on during the winter but if you’re not careful you could be hit with a hefty energy bill. Here are our top tips to keep warm for less.

  • Switch energy companies and sign up to a cheaper tariff through online switching websites such as www.uswitch.com. You can also register for the Big London Energy Switch at www.biglondonenergyswitch.org.uk
  • Turn your thermostat down by 1°C. This can save you up to £90 a year on your bill.
  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use – switching appliances off standby mode can save you around £30 per year.
  • Have shorter showers – spending one minute less in the shower each day could save a family of four around £100 a year in heating and water bills.
  • Stop the heat leaks – by draught-proofing doors, windows and gaps around the floor, you can save up to £35 a year. = Use energy saving light bulbs. They use up to 80% less electricity and last about 10 times longer than other ones.
  • Snap Your Bill – see details of our new energy advice service below

How to snap your bill

Take a snap

  1. Use your smart phone to take a picture of your bill.
  2. If you get your utility bills online, take a picture or screenshot of the screen.

Send us your snap

Send your pictures or screenshots to:

Our sustainability experts will then work out if you’re getting a fair deal on your utility bill. If there is a better deal from other suppliers, we’ll send you the details to help you make the switch. We’ll also include further tips on saving energy at home.

PAGE 14 and 15: YOUR MONEY

Paying your rent

Christmas is the season of goodwill, indulgence and potential money problems… When doing your Christmas shopping, please remember that protecting the roof over your and your family’s head is the best gift you can give them. So please make sure you pay your rent and other priority bills over the festive period.

We don’t accept cash payments so please pay your rent using one of the following methods:

By direct debit

This is the quickest and easiest way – just download the direct debit form from our website (www.chg.org.uk), fill it in and post it to us.

Through Allpay

  • Swipe card: use the card at any post office or shop showing a Payzone sign
  • Website: www.allpayments.net
  • Mobile app: download the app from the website above
  • Allpay’s 24-hour call centre: 0844 557 8321

Call Catalyst

Phone our customer service centre with your credit or debit card details. Once you’ve paid, we’ll give you a reference number as proof of payment.

You can also pay your rent by standing order and cheque. For more information visit www.chg.org.uk/pay-rent If you’re having problems paying your rent please contact our income team on 0300 456 2099 (London customers) and 0300 456 2090 (South East customers)

We help resident bank nearly £1.4k

One South East resident recently banked £1,360 after finding out her bank was mischarging her a monthly fee.

We initially contacted the resident because she had £430 rent arrears. To help her manage her money, we looked through her monthly incomings and outgoings, and spotted that her bank was charging her a monthly fee.

At her request, we accompanied the resident to see her bank and pointed out that the bank shouldn’t be charging her a monthly fee. This is because the resident is, and was, close to pension age when she opened the account, does not work, is not likely to work and is fully dependent on benefits. The bank realised it had made a mistake and paid back the resident the fees from when she opened the account plus 8% interest. The total amount she received was £1,360 – enough to clear her rent arrears and also treat herself to something special.

PAGE 16: BETTER SERVICE

Getting it right first time

After a successful pilot in Brent, we’re bringing our new Prioritising People support system to all our neighbourhoods by the end of 2016. But what exactly is Prioritising People and how will it affect you? WHAT IS IT?

The Prioritising People system pulls all our support services into one accessible referral process, getting you the help you need quickly and efficiently.

How does it work?

Please continue to tell your neighbourhood manager about any issues you have in your circumstances, home or neighbourhood. He or she will then put you in touch with the right team or service in Catalyst.

What’s in it for me?

Whether you’re looking for work or itching for a promotion, Prioritising People can help you with employment and skills. There’s dedicated help if you’re worried about debt and finance, and various support for young people and families, such as tenancy support and sheltered housing. And it’s helping community cohesion by making volunteering and community projects more accessible. But it’s not just about what Catalyst can offer you. We’re linking in with external services and projects too, to make sure we’re giving you all the available options.

Prioritising people in action

Prioritising People has already lent a helping hand to a number of residents, whether that’s through a financial adviser, employment tips or community support. London resident Joanne felt out of her depth with over £3,000 in rent arrears while she struggled to find work.

After being referred through Prioritising People to an employment adviser she had help refreshing her CV and it wasn’t long before an employment agency snapped her up for a new job. Meanwhile a financial inclusion officer advised her to apply for Discretionary Housing Benefit to help reduce her rent arrears and a Catalyst Trust grant to put towards suitable work clothes.

She says: “I’m really grateful for Catalyst’s support. Now I’m in a great job and fully in control of my finances, I can breathe a little easier!”

PAGE 17: DREAM BIG

Venture into the world of work

As a life-long Kensington resident, Channel remembers the Venture Centre well. She used to visit it as a child but never thought for one moment that she’d be working there.

“The interview was daunting. I was nervous but it was good that there were some familiar faces (on the interview panel),” says Channel. As a trainee community worker, Channel’s role involves looking after the reception, managing bookings, planning events, promoting activities and fundraising.

She also helps to make sure that everyone who visits the Venture Centre has a positive experience. And when they’re greeted by Channel’s big bright smile, we guarantee that they get just that.

Channel said: “It’s really busy, but I can multi-task really well. By nature I’m a very kind and caring person, I like to give back by trying to help people. I know I have reached my goals by the good feedback I’ve received. People said it’s good to see a friendly face when you get here.”

In partnership with the Venture Centre, we created two one-year work placements at the centre. These will help address the limited employment and accredited training opportunities for people in the area who are over the age of 24 and ineligible for apprenticeships. Channel’s work placement will be coming to an end soon.

So what does the future hold for her? “I’ll be looking for work. I’m not sure in what field yet, but I can say that I’m planning on doing some voluntary work in event organising and stewarding,” she says. Due to the success of the programme, Catalyst and the Venture Centre will be offering two more work placements again this year

Get into work or training

Our employment and skills support programme is dedicated to helping residents find and sustain suitable work. We can help you with:

  • identifying your key skills and abilities
  • developing a winning CV and perfecting your interview skills
  • building your confidence and improving your communication skills
  • targeted job searches.

Find out more

For more details call 0300 456 2060 or visit www.chg.org.uk/gateway

PAGES 18 AND 19: GET INVOLVED

Dynamic Dawn

It seems like Oxford resident Dawn Williams does it all. On top of being a part-time tutor at Abingdon and Witney College, she’s busy making sure you’re happy in your home.

With over five years’ experience living in a Catalyst neighbourhood, Dawn is a member of our South East Customer Service Committee and the Customer Experience Panel. We set up both so we could work with residents to resolve any issues, from how you pay your rent to sorting out specific problems at local developments.

“I’m balancing two quite different roles,” she says. “I joined the Customer Service Committee – then called the Local Board – four years ago. We act as a ‘critical friend’ to Catalyst, meeting every quarter to examine how the organisation is run and whether they’re delivering a quality customer service. But most importantly we’re giving residents a voice, so we like to get out and about to talk to as many of you as we can.”

And did you know the committee awards funds to residential projects? You can apply for money for special projects such as tidying up a particular area or introducing measures to improve safety. Dawn stresses that the funding pot can make a real difference. “We see before and after photos and it’s great to see how much can be done with a small grant.”

For example, the committee paid for enclosing a front garden in an area of Luton that was suffering from anti-social behaviour. “Once the new railings and fencing were installed the situation improved,” says Dawn. ”We also swapped over a bin store and a bike park so that the next door flat would stop getting smells from the bins coming into their kitchen.”

Recently Dawn has added the Customer Experience Panel to her busy schedule. The panel looks at residents’ experiences working with Catalyst and seeks to make a decision on whether a policy has been followed. “We deal with directors and staff. It’s our job to say ‘that’s not quite working is it?’ and make sure that changes are made so we can work together.” She enjoys both roles.

“I like helping to resolve issues. I’ve met lots of great people and learned about the way Catalyst is run. It also ties in with my work at JSC Fun Weeks, funded by Oxford City Council, where I work with children to teach play.

“Volunteering is important and I’m passionate about play. I think every child should have a safe and stimulating area to play, with a bit of green. I’d love to use my experience to help our neighbourhoods introduce some really inspiring play areas and community spaces.”

To find out how you can get involved at Catalyst and make a difference to your area contact our resident involvement team on 0300 456 2099 or getinvolved@chg.org.uk

Residents annual report 2014/15

How we’re doing

Our overall performance from April 2014 to March 2015 has improved and we believe this was down to putting the needs of our customers first through our new customer service excellence programme, Making It Easy.

We’ve been quicker to respond to complaints, we answer more calls, and we’ve sped up the turnaround time for properties to be re-let. There has been a slight drop in customer satisfaction level, which was down to factors such as value for money, rents and service charges impacting on residents. We continue to review and implement the customer feedback we receive and work closely with residents to identify new ways to improve our service.

Some highlights

  • With our Making It Easy programme we aim to get it right first time when we respond to issues. If we don’t, we aim to resolve complaints at the first stage so they don’t escalate. This has helped to increase the number of complaints we respond to within 10 working days from 94% to 99%.
  • We’ve combined our Oxford and Ealing customer services teams, which has resulted in an increase of calls answered from 86% to 89%.
  • We’re supporting residents affected by the welfare reforms. This has helped reduce our level of rent arrears from 5.9% to 3.5% in social housing; from 3.7% to 1.7% in sheltered housing; and from 2.8 to 2% in shared ownership properties.

Working with residents

  • We believe it’s right to recognise and reward residents who make an active contribution to resident involvement and community development at Catalyst on a voluntary basis. That’s why last year we spent:
  • £22,353 on maintenance, start-up and events grants for resident groups that meet our recognised criteria
  • over £11,000 purchasing reward vouchers and paying reasonable expenses for residents carrying out involvement and community development duties
  • more than £18,000 on training for residents that develops their ability to carry out their duties
  • nearly £30,000 to install wi-fi in three of our sheltered housing scheme hubs
  • 15,422 on community engagement and development.

View the report

You can view our annual report online at www.chg.org.uk/annualreport

Alternatively, you can request a printed copy by contacting our resident involvement team on 0300 456 2099 or at getinvolved@chg.org.uk

PAGE 20: BACK COVER

Is your boiler working?

With the cold weather now here, please check if your boiler is working properly. This will make sure you are less likely to have problems with your heating or hot water this winter.

How can I check if my boiler is working?

  • Turn your thermostat to full and put the heating on to see whether your home heats up as quickly as it usually would.
  • Check your hot water to see if it is as warm as it should be.

What shall I do if my boiler is faulty?

If you’re a tenant just call your local office. We’ll send an engineer to assess the problem and then fix it for you. If you’re a shared owner you‘re responsible for the heating and hot water in your home.

We recommend that you get your boiler checked annually by a Gas Safe Register engineer. To arrange a gas safety check call 0800 408 5500 or visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk