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Information Sharing Across County Durham


Housing News from across Co Durham

Please find below news and information from our Durham County Housing Providers
 
Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes, which make up County Durham Housing Group, have updated the look and feel of their existing sites to improve the overall user experience.
Customers can still access online information from the same addresses:
Moving On Newsletter **New**

Good morning, Please find attached the latest newsletter from Moving On Durham. Kind regards, Holly, Administrator, Moving on Durham

H
ousing provider looking for customers’ views **New**

One of the north east’s largest social landlords is carrying out a major survey to find out what customers think of their homes and the services they receive. County Durham Housing Group will be undertaking a telephone survey of its customers over the course of five weeks, beginning on Monday, 25 September. This will be the largest telephone survey the organisation has ever conducted and will help County Durham Housing Group better understand the needs of its customers. The calls will be made by The Leadership Factor, on behalf of County Durham Housing Group. Around 1,000 tenants will be contacted by telephone as part of the survey. 

Calls are being made during both day time and evenings in order to accommodate customers who work. The calls are expected to last around 10 minutes and will involve a series of questions about tenants’ experiences of living in a County Durham Housing Group property. Customers who complete the survey will be entered into a free prize draw to win up to £200 of high street shopping vouchers. County Durham Housing Group Head of Strategy and Performance, Louise Taylor, said: “This survey will provide us with vital feedback to help us improve the experience our tenants have in their homes and neighbourhoods. “We appreciate that our tenants all have busy lives; but just ten minutes on the phone for this survey will genuinely make a difference to how we can shape the services we offer in the future.”

Report outlines housing group's year of success **New**

A report detailing a housing provider’s successes during the last financial year is now available. County Durham Housing Group has produced its annual report for 2016/17, highlighting the work of local landlords Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes. 

The 24-page report, available at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk/annualreport1617, showcases the group’s achievements over the last 12 months, how it meets the Homes and Communities Agency’s seven national housing standards, and what’s planned for the year ahead. Bill Fullen, County Durham Housing Group Chief Executive, said: “2016/17 saw significant changes for the country; most notably the resultof the EU referendum, and thereafter a change in political leadership. “And within the housing sector we have continued to respond to the ongoing implications of welfare reform, with changes to the local housing allowance and rollout of Universal Credit. “Over the last 12 months we have continued to transform the way our business works so that we are modern, flexible and confident that we will continue to make a difference across the county for years to come.” 

Customers without access to the internet can request a printed copy of the report by calling 0191 349 7777.

New guide to help boost skills in County Durham **New**

A new guide from one of the region’s largest social landlords will help residents find ways to boost their skills and job prospects. County Durham Housing Group has produced the pocket sized ‘go group’ booklet, which is full of free ways that tenants, and other residents, can improve their qualifications or gain new knowledge. ‘go group’ contains everything from English and maths courses to opportunities to learn about mental health, and includes details of the innovative ‘Stepping Stones to Employment’ programme that aims to enhance jobseekers’ prospects. 

Thousands of guides are being distributed throughout the county, which are also available from all County Durham Housing Group offices, by calling 0191 349 7753 or by emailing training@cdhg.co.uk County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Team Leader, Angela Stobbart, said: “We offer a wide range of courses and learning opportunities right across the county. This new guide brings details of everything we offer into one place, making it much easier to find the course or training that could make a big difference to your skills. “As a housing association, we can go further in what we offer to our tenants, and others living in the area. So much of what we provide is free and in easy to access locations in communities across Durham. There really is something for everyone.” 

For more information about County Durham Housing Group visit www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk

Clothing bank flushed with funding success **New**

A volunteer-run clothing bank that provides vital support to vulnerable people across the north east, has picked up funding from one of the region’s leading landlords to help provide toiletries to those in need. 

More than 1,000 tubes of toothpaste, hundreds of bottles of shampoo, dozens of bars of soap, and other essential toiletries will be provided to vulnerable and unemployed people across County Durham. County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank has been awarded £500 by County Durham Housing Group to buy and distribute the toiletries. The funding will also allow the group to purchase everyday items such as nappies and sanitary products, which will help families to function normally during times of hardship. The clothing bank was set up in 2014 to support north east people who were out of work, facing problems with welfare benefits changes, or in low paid jobs. County Durham Housing Group provided the funding for the toiletries as part of its new ‘group grant’ programme, which is distributing £20,000 to good causes in the county. Dawn Wilson from County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank, said: “If it wasn't for the donations of money and clothing, and the great work from our regular volunteers, we couldn't do what we do, and have been doing, since October 2014. I'm just pleased we can help as many people as we do.” The clothing bank is based in Brandon, just outside of Durham, and operates a fortnightly drop in service on Tuesdays staffed by the 18 volunteers involved in the project. 

Angela Stobbart, Community Investment Team Leader at County Durham Housing Group, said: “The volunteers at the clothing bank do an amazing job, helping some of the most vulnerable people in the county. “We’re really pleased to be able to support their work, and of course ensure that this lifeline for many families can continue to operate so successfully.”

Grant keeps Dawdon kids dancing **New**

More than 70 youngsters will be dancing their way to competitions this year after securing a grant from one of the region’s largest social landlords. Dawdon Welfare Disco Dancers will be representing the Durham coast village at competitions right across England after securing a grant from County Durham Housing Group. The 34 year old club has been awarded a £500 ‘group grant’ - a new scheme that aims to support local organisations across the county. 

The dancing club will use the money to ensure their talented youngsters, who range from two to 25 years old, can continue to showcase their skills on a local level, as well as competing up and down the country. Janice Purdy, Dawdon Welfare Disco Dancers Leader, said: “We meet to practice five times a week, it’s a great way for our young group to have fun, learn new skills and keep fit. It gives them something really positive to do with their spare time. “Competing also gives the dancers something to aim for and builds their confidence, but it’s expensive and we’re always looking to raise funds to make it possible.” “We’re all volunteers, even our dance teacher Danielle, so funding like this can make a big difference.” The Dawdon Welfare Disco Dancers will be familiar sight for many in the Dawdon and Seaham area. The group take part in carnivals and other events as well as giving dance displays to community groups and nursing homes. County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Team Leader, Angela Stobbart, said: “The dancers clearly love what they do; it’s great to be able to support them and allow them to demonstrate their talents to audiences in all parts of the country. “The group has obviously been making a big impact in their community for many years and I hope it will be able to continue to do so for many more.” 

Any community organisation, non-profit making group, charity or school working in the areas served by County Durham Housing Group is eligible to apply for a group grant. For further information visit www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk/groupgrant, by call 0191 349 7777 or email groupgrant@cdhg.co.uk

Team brought together to help tenants through Universal Credit launch  **New*

A new team of advisors will help County Durham tenants during the digital rollout of the government’s Universal Credit system. County Durham Housing Group’s dedicated Universal Credit Team has been established to advise and support tenants through their Universal Credit claim; with the changes set to roll out in areas such as Peterlee and Seaham will roll out in October. Universal Credit is a single payment scheme that will replace several benefits including; Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. From October all claimants under pensionable age in Peterlee and Seaham will be affected. 

The Bishop Auckland and Crook areas will see the changes roll out in December; and Durham and Spennymoor in early 2018. Anita Lowther, Universal Credit Team Leader, said: “We’re here to help our tenants through these changes. “We know that many of our customers feel like they don’t have all of the information they need, or are confused by how it will work for them individually. “We can offer one-to-one guidance and support, and to ensure that if mistakes have been made that they can be corrected by working with the Department for Work and Pensions.” Anita and her team have already uncovered several tenants whose Universal Credit payment has been underpaid, leading to hardship. In one case a tenant had received £1,700 less than they could have claimed. By working with the Department for Work and Pensions the full amount is now being claimed and the tenant has received a backdated payment too. “I really would urge anyone who isn’t certain of their entitlement to get in touch. The team are not here to judge, we’re just here to offer independent advice and support.” Anita added. County Durham Housing Group is the parent company of landlords East Durham Homes, Dale and Valley Homes and Durham City Homes. 

To contact the Universal Credit Team, Dale and Valley Homes tenants can call 0800 083 0333; Durham City Homes tenants can call 0800 068 0013; and East Durham Homes tenants can call 0800 032 0835. Tenants from all three landlords can also email universal.credit@cdhg.co.uk

Latest housing magazine only a click away **New**

The latest issue of County Durham Housing Group’s digital newsletter is available online. August’s edition of ‘group news’ can now be found at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk 

Full to bursting with the latest information, readers can find out about support available during the introduction of Universal Credit, how youngsters in Trimdon have become the first to benefit from a new small grants scheme, and why the group’s first homes in Sunderland have transformed one family’s life. Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “From our work in the community to the latest on our new homes building programme, we’re doing a huge amount of work right across County Durham … and beyond. “Our online newsletter is fully responsive, so all of the latest articles can be read on a PC, laptop, tablet and mobile phone.” To read August’s edition, which also includes news about the latest training courses and employability support the group offers, plus how a man moving from Scotland became the 15,000th tenant to use Durham Key Options to find a home with the group’s landlords, visit www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk 

For a printed copy of the magazine email communications@cdhg.co.uk or contact: · Dale & Valley Homes: 0800 083 0333 · Durham City Homes: 0800 068 0013 · East Durham Homes: 0800 032 0835

Housing group looking for ‘VOCAL’ tenants **New**

Social housing tenants are being sought to take a formal role in shaping the future direction of the organisation. 

County Durham Housing Group has opened itself up to scrutiny and engagement from customers, who in turn will have direct input into the board and operations committee. The panel, known as the Voice of the Customer And Leaseholders, or VOCAL for short, already includes tenants with a wide range of skills, but is now open to new recruits. Those appointed will ensure that customers’ needs are always considered when decisions about the organisation’s direction and the services offered are being made. County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Manager, Rachel Edmunds, said: “VOCAL has a wide range of skills and talents and uses them for the benefit of all of our customers and for the organisation. We’re looking for new recruits to make the panel even stronger and help to ensure that customers, and their needs, are at the centre of the organisation. “The panel already has plans to look into how the group achieves value for money and engages within our communities. 

More information on the VOCAL vacancies, and details of how to apply, is available at www.countydurhamhousing.co.uk, by calling 0191 349 7629 or email jean.steel@cdhg.co.uk. The closing date for applications is Friday, 20 October.

Free training for County Durham Housing Group residents **New**

I wonder if you can add some free training to the Durham Voice please? Its math and English for local residents.  

There are 2 courses yet to start and we have space at both. 


2 courses – one at Peterlee and one at Gilesgate area of Durham. 

Trimdon kids are first for funding **New**

Children from a County Durham village are the first beneficiaries of a new grant from one of the region’s largest social landlords. Up to 50 children from Trimdon are set for a bumper summer thanks to a £500 ‘group grant’ from County Durham Housing Group. Trimdon Summer Breakout programme, which arranges activities for local youngsters during the school holidays, will now be able to take involved youngsters to Beamish Wild treetop adventure course and Maiden Castle sports complex during August. Annette Donohue from Trimdon Community College Association said: “It is only when our communities work together and gain this wonderful support from local organisations that we can continue to offer a fabulous programme for our young people.” 

Trimdon Summer Breakout is the first of dozens of projects to benefit from the recently launched ‘group grant’ scheme, which provides funding of up to £500 for community projects within the area. County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Team Leader, Angela Stobbart, said: “This project is a perfect example of how a relatively small amount of funding has made such an impact. “We’ve had a lot of interest in the ‘group grant’ scheme already, so I’m confident that we’ll be making a real difference to many more communities in the future.” Any community organisation, non-profit making group, charity or school working in the areas served by County Durham Housing Group is eligible for the scheme.

Full details of the group grant scheme are available at www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk/groupgrant, by calling 0191 349 7777 or emailing groupgrant@cdhg.co.uk

Free course for budding retail workers **New**

An intensive free training course designed to provide the skills and knowledge needed to work in retail or customer care is being offered to County Durham residents. County Durham Housing Group’s two-week Get Into Retail and Customer Care programme will help anyone keen to start a career in the sector. Running from Monday, 18 September at Auckland Youth and Community Centre in Woodhouse Close, Bishop Auckland, the course offers essential skills like how to work with consumers and improving listening and interpersonal skills. 

Designed by experts from the sector and delivered by friendly and approachable trainers, sessions will focus on understanding the sales process, exceeding customer expectations and the differing roles within the industry. During the 10 days of training there will also be the chance to gain Level 2 qualifications in health and safety, first aid and manual handling. Sean Robson, Community Training Coordinator at County Durham Housing Group, said: “With Christmas suddenly just around the corner, there’ll be lots of job opportunities coming up in the retail sector. This course will give a real head start to anyone looking to get into a retail or customer service job over the season. “It’s an intensive course so that within just two weeks, learners can improve their confidence and pick up the key things they’ll need when applying for a job or attending an interview. “ 

More information on the course, and details of how to enrol, is available from Sean Robson at County Durham Housing Group on 0191 349 7753 or training@cdhg.co.uk

Recruits wanted for free employability course **New**

A free County Durham employment project, that has already helped 25 people back on the road to work, is now seeking its next round of recruits. The Stepping Stones to Employment project, led by County Durham Housing Group and Auckland Castle Trust, is designed to boost confidence, develop new and transferrable skills and enhance employability in a fun and easy way. 

More than 90% of those enrolled on the first course found either work or further education and training within weeks of completion, including one who is carving out a career with the prison service and another now employed as a swimming coach. Enrolment for the September course, which will run at Auckland Youth and Community Centre in Woodhouse Close, Bishop Auckland, is open now - with applications closing on Monday, 4 September. Susan Graydon, from Coundon, who completed the first Stepping Stones course earlier this year, said: “I wanted to change my career but felt like a dinosaur and needed to update my skills and interview techniques. Stepping Stones was excellent and I’ve already enrolled at college as a result.” Rupert Wansbury, who also enrolled, said: “Before I found this course I was sitting in the house most days; I was worried for my future. Now I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I need to do to improve. I’ve built my confidence and received a lot of help in working out which courses are right for me so I’m looking to better my qualifications and get into a full time job.” 

There are 15 places currently available for the next round of the 10-week Stepping Stones to Employment programme, with everyone taking part being offered the chance to gain skills and qualifications in areas such as health and safety, first aid, food hygiene, event planning and computing. Crucially the course, which is free to attend, will also focus on improving self-confidence and interview skills, both of which have been identified as key barriers to re-entering employment after a period out of work. Sean Robson, Community Training Coordinator at County Durham Housing Group, said: “Anyone who has spent time looking for a job will know that it can seriously knock your confidence. That’s why Stepping Stones places such an emphasis on growing confidence and real experience of interview techniques. “We hope that the combination of skills training and renewed self-belief will give everyone taking part an advantage when they’re applying for jobs long into the future.” 

At the end of the Stepping Stones course, all participants will have the opportunity to use their new skills in a practice interview at regional charity Auckland Castle Trust. Alison Tweddle from Auckland Castle Trust, said: “Stepping Stones to Employment is accessible to all ages and backgrounds. Each fun and informal session is steered by attendees and is designed specifically to help people feel confident and prepared enough to re-enter the workforce or begin further training.” The Stepping Stones to Employment project is funded by NE Procurement. 

For more information, or to apply, please contact Sean Robson at County Durham Housing Group on 0191 349 7753 or training@cdhg.co.uk
Free course will help residents get to grips with computers **New**

County Durham residents are being offered the chance to improve their computer skills with a free course. County Durham Housing Group is inviting anyone living in Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area to a free 10-week computer skills course. 

The training will allow complete beginners or those lacking confidence to get to grips with searching the internet, using common programmes like word processing and spreadsheet packages, sending emails and a whole host of other basic computer skills. The course will take place at Auckland Youth and Community Centre in Woodhouse Close, Bishop Auckland, from Friday, 18 August. 

County Durham Housing Group Community Training Coordinator, Sean Robson, said: “We’re committed to improving residents’ employment prospects, and signing up to our free computer skills course will do just that. “Within no time you’ll be using a mouse like a pro and have the essential ICT skills that employers are looking for. “This is a great opportunity for people to pick up the basics and make sure they’ve got the right skills on their CV. It’s completely free and our friendly trainers will make sure that you become confident around computers in no time.” 

For more information on how to enrol call Sean Robson on 0191 349 7753 or email training@cdhg.co.uk

Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **New**

A local landlord’s weekly housing surgeries will answer tenant queries. County Durham Housing Group hosts regular three-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham. 

Customers can call in on Wednesdays between 2pm and 5pm to talk to a County Durham Housing Group officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services. Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.” 

For more information call County Durham Housing Group on 0800 032 0835 or email info@cdhg.co.uk

Latest housing magazine only a click away **New**

The latest issue of County Durham Housing Group’s digital newsletter is available online. July’s edition of ‘group news’ can now be found at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk 

Packed with the latest information from the group, readers can find out about the latest apprenticeship opportunities, the launch of a new small grants scheme, and all about the first new homes to be built in a rural Weardale village for more than 50 years. 

Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “From supporting community groups and providing new local job opportunities, to building more homes and providing advice to tenants, we’re doing so much right across County Durham. “Our online newsletter is fully responsive, so all of the latest articles can be read on a PC, laptop, tablet and mobile phone.” 

To read July’s edition, which also includes news about the latest training courses and employability support the group offers, visit www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk 
For a printed copy of the magazine email communications@cdhg.co.uk or contact: 
· Dale & Valley Homes: 0800 083 0333 
· Durham City Homes: 0800 068 0013 
· East Durham Homes: 0800 032 0835
Free English and maths help **New**

County Durham residents are being offered the chance to improve their English and maths skills with a series of free courses. County Durham Housing Group is offering people the opportunity to sign up to a free 10-week Level 2 English and Maths training programme at a variety of locations. 

The next full day course will be running at Auckland Youth and Community Centre in Woodhouse Close, Bishop Auckland, from Wednesday, 2 August. Horden and Peterlee RFC Rugby Union Club on Eden Lane in Peterlee will also be hosting similar classes from Thursday, 7 September. And dedicated half day Level 2 Maths classes will be running at Pelaw View Centre on Sherburn Road in Gilesgate from Thursday, 7 September between 1pm and 4pm. 

The courses are being run by County Durham Housing Group as part of its commitment to improving employment prospects for residents. County Durham Housing Group Community Training Coordinator, Sean Robson, said: “English and maths skills are absolutely vital in the jobs market today. “These courses are a great way to brush up on your skills and make sure that you’ve got the qualifications on your CV that employers are genuinely looking for … and of course, because they’re free, you’ve got nothing to lose.” 

More information on how to enrol on the courses is available from Sean Robson on 0191 349 7753 or email training@cdhg.co.uk Media contact: Mark Pearce at County Durham Housing Group. Email: mark.pearce@cdhg.co.uk. Tel: 0191 349 7757. Mob: 07557 170 677


New social homes are first in rural village for decades **New**

Work has started on the first new social homes to be built in a small upper Weardale village for more than 50 years. New two-bed bungalows are being developed in the small community of Rookhope, five miles from Stanhope, thanks to County Durham Housing Group. The development has been described as ‘vital’ for the future of the village, which has a population of under 300 people. 

Ground was broken on the site in Boltsburn Crescent during a formal sod cutting ceremony by County Durham Housing Group and T.Manners & Sons Limited. The last new social housing to be built in the village dates back to the post-war period. The bungalows will feature high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems powered by solar panels, and double glazing; and are expected to bring big savings to tenants when compared with older homes in the village. Demand for modern bungalows in the area is high as most properties date back to the area’s lead mining heyday.

County Durham Housing Group Chief Executive, Bill Fullen, said: “These new bungalows are being built as the direct result of calls by local people and councillors to provide affordable bungalows in Rookhope. “We’ve worked closely with local residents to make these vital new homes possible. Demand for affordable homes in rural areas has probably never been higher. By working with the local community and a range of partners in the public and private sector, housing associations like ourselves are best placed to deliver the new affordable homes that hard working families desperately need.” 

The bungalows are being constructed as part of a major programme of new house building by County Durham Housing Group, which will see 297 new homes built on 17 sites between the Tyne and the Tees. T. Manners & Sons Limited have been appointed as building contractor by the group; the homes are expected to be complete by early 2018. Once ready, the homes will be offered at affordable rent with priority given to the local community. Simon Manners, Joint Managing Director of T Manners and Sons Ltd commented: “We are delighted to be working with County Durham Housing Group in delivering these much needed new homes and as a local company, it is particularly pleasing to see investment like this in our County. This is our first project with County Durham Housing Group and I hope it is the start of a successful local partnership to deliver the social homes our area so desperately needs.”
First homes in £30m housing plan **New**

Work is underway on the construction of new affordable homes in a County Durham village as the first part of a £30m investment across the region. Ground has been broken on the site of eight two and three bedroom homes in Pity Me. The high quality properties on Woodbine Road on the western side of the village will be available for affordable rent. The houses are being built by County Durham Housing Group as part of a major programme of new house building, which will see 297 new homes built on 17 sites between the Tyne and the Tees. The Pity Me homes are the first being purpose built for affordable rent by the group. Featuring high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems and double glazing; they are expected to bring big savings to tenants when compared with older homes, particularly those in the private rented sector. County Durham 

Housing Group Chief Executive, Bill Fullen, said: “These new homes are the first of almost 300 that we’ll be building over the next three years. We’ll be bringing high quality, affordable homes to communities’ right across the region. “Demand for affordable homes has probably never been higher. By working with the local community and a range of partners in the public and private sector, housing associations like ourselves are best placed to deliver the new affordable homes that hard working families desperately need.” Last year housing associations like County Durham Housing Group built 40,000 new homes – 29 per cent of all housebuilding in England, contributing £1.9bn to the economy. Construction work at the Pity Me site is expected to be completed by spring 2018 with the first families moving in shortly after. 

Jason Green, Director of Operations at contractors Strategic Team Group, said: “We are delighted to be appointed to deliver one of the first projects as part of this programme of new build housing across the region. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with County Durham Housing Group to provide much needed energy efficient new homes for affordable rent to the community in Pity Me.” Close to transport links to Durham city centre and other parts of the region, as well as being at the heart of Pity Me, the new homes are expected to be in high demand.

Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **New**

A local landlord’s weekly housing surgeries will answer tenant queries. East Durham Homes hosts regular three-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham. Customers can call in on Wednesdays between 2pm and 5pm to talk to an East Durham Homes officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services. Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.” 

For more information call East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk ENDS Media contact: Mark Pearce at County Durham Housing Group. Email: mark.pearce@cdhg.co.uk. Tel: 0191 349 7757. Mob: 07557 170 677.

Housing providers team up to back Lumiere **New**

Durham Two of the North East’s leading providers of affordable homes have joined forces to support Durham’s hugely popular Lumiere Festival. County Durham Housing Group and Prince Bishops Homes have signed up as joint sponsors of an exciting new lighting installation as part of the major Lumiere Festival taking place in November. The two firms were keen to support the spectacular event due to the positive impact it has upon the local economy and life in the community. 

The last Lumiere Durham, in 2015, attracted 200,000 visitors and brought more than £9.6m into the city; as well as providing employment and volunteering opportunities for local people. The installation sponsored by CDHG and Prince Bishops Homes will be one of up to 30 across Durham city centre and the surrounding area from 16 to 19 November. County Durham Housing Group Chief Executive, Bill Fullen, said: “Lumiere is a phenomenal event; it looks spectacular and it brings so many benefits to Durham. As an organisation committed to supporting local people, businesses and the community we were keen to get involved with Lumiere this November. 

 “We can’t say too much about the installation itself just yet, but we hope that visitors as well as our tenants will appreciate and receive it well.” The installation will be sited in a prominent location on the edge of the city centre with full details to be announced in the Autumn. Charlotte Carpenter, Executive Director of Growth and Business Development at Karbon Homes, which owns Prince Bishops Homes, said: “We’re delighted to be a part of Lumiere this year. It’s always such an impressive event, and really harnesses the huge pride that everyone connected with this beautiful city feels. “Prince Bishops Homes is currently building new properties across the North East, including Rent to Buy homes for people aspiring to move on to the housing ladder, and we’re keen to get across the prominent role we play in developing strong, proud communities.” 

Sarah Coop, Development Director at Artichoke said: “We are delighted that County Durham Housing Group and Prince Bishops Homes are supporting the festival once again, following our partnership in 2015. We're looking forward to working with them again for Lumiere Durham 2017.” Lumiere Durham is produced by leading arts charity Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council.
Latest housing magazine only a click away **Current**

 The latest issue of County Durham Housing Group’s digital newsletter is available online. June’s edition of ‘group news’ can now be found at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk 

Packed with the latest information from the group, readers can find out about how County Durham Housing Group is supporting Durham’s hugely popular Lumiere Festival, the latest welfare benefits advice, and how the group is giving tenants a stronger voice and a formal role in the running of the organisation. Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “Whether it’s building new homes, or providing training to help our tenants get into work, we’ve got lots of exciting projects all across the region right now. “Our customer magazine, group news is the best way to find out about them all in one place. 

Our online newsletter is fully responsive, so all of the latest articles can be read on a PC, laptop, tablet and mobile phone.” To read June’s edition, which also includes news about the how tenants could save money on their winter energy bills, visit www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk 

For a printed copy of the magazine email communications@cdhg.co.uk or contact: · Dale & Valley Homes: 0800 083 0333 · Durham City Homes: 0800 068 0013 · East Durham Homes: 0800 032 0835

Housing provider seeks views on new homes **Current**

Residents living in the Murton area of County Durham are being invited to a public consultation event on plans for 47 new affordable homes in their community. County Durham Housing Group wants views on plans to build 27 bungalows and 20 three-bed houses on land at Truro Road in Murton. Homes would be available for affordable rent and rent-to-buy respectively once completed. 

The consultation event will take place on Thursday, 29 June at the Glebe Centre in Murton between 4pm and 6pm, with staff from County Durham Housing Group on hand to talk about the project and show local residents detailed plans around the proposal. County Durham Housing Group Head of Development and Commercial Property, Kate Abson, said: “We understand the demand for a range of homes in the Murton area and want to hear what local people think about our proposals. “Both the bungalows and houses will feature high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems and double glazing; all of which are expected to bring greater efficiencies when compared with older homes, particularly those in the private rented sector. “And as well as delivering affordable homes in the places where they’re really needed, the development will provide new jobs during construction.” 

The development forms part of an overall 297 home new build programme by the group between the Tyne and Tees across a three year period. By 2020, County Durham Housing Group will have invested £32m across 17 sites providing a significant boost to employment in the area.

Tenants get ‘VOCAL’ on housing issues **Current**

One of the region’s leading landlords has become the first in north east to give a panel of tenants a formal role in shaping the future direction of the organisation. County Durham Housing Group has opened itself up to scrutiny and engagement from a group of customers with direct input into the group’s board and operations committee. The panel, known as the Voice of the Customer And Leaseholders, or VOCAL for short, has drawn together customers from the group’s properties right across County Durham. Chosen after an extensive eight week recruitment process among customers, the panel includes tenants with a wide range of skills. They will have input at a high level and are expected to work closely with County Durham Housing Group’s board and senior officers to ensure that customers’ needs are always considered when decisions about the direction of the group and the services offered are being made. 

The panel will be responsive and geared up to look at any issues members feel they can have a useful input into. It already has plans to look into how the group achieves value for money and how it engages with the communities it works in. County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Manager, Rachel Edmunds, said: “We wanted to create a new way of really involving our customers in shaping the future of the organisation; VOCAL will do just that. 

The panel has a wide range of skills and talents and will be able to use them for the benefit of all of our customers and for the organisation. “Bringing customers into the centre of the organisation in such a way is, we believe, a first for any housing association in the north east. We want to move beyond simple feedback and really make full use of the insight our customers have to make the organisation better and more adaptable to their needs.”
Group seeks tenants to help shape services **Current**

County Durham Housing Group is on the lookout for tenants to join its board and Operations Committee.

 

The group, which is the parent organisation to landlords Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes, is looking to recruit two new people to join its decision making structure.

Tenants are being asked to apply for a place on the Common Board, which is responsible for the overall control of the group, including its strategy development, resources, legality and monitoring performance; and to its Operations Committee, which has responsibility for reviewing the performance and service delivery of housing, customer and property services. 

Andrew Traynor, Head of Business Assurance and Group Secretary, said: “Both vacancies provide fantastic opportunities for tenants who want to expand their skills and knowledge, and want to make a real difference to housing in across the county.

“We are looking for applicants with experience in community engagement, as well as analysing performance data.

“Training and support will be provided in both roles.”

For an informal and confidential discussion about either role, please contact Andrew Traynor at governance@cdhg.co.uk in the first instance.

Further information can be found at altairltd.co.uk/recruitment/

The closing date for applications is 10am on Friday, 7 July 2017. Interviews may be held on either Tuesday, 27 or Wednesday, 28 July, 2017.

Media contact: Mark Pearce at County Durham Housing Group. Email: mark.pearce@cdhg.co.uk. Tel: 0191 349 7757. Mob: 07557 170 677

 


Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **Current**

A local landlord’s weekly housing surgeries will answer tenant queries. East Durham Homes hosts regular two-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham. Customers can call in on Wednesdays between 2pm and 5pm to talk to an East Durham Homes officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services. Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.”

For more information call East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk

Latest housing magazine only a click away **Current**

The latest issue of County Durham Housing Group’s digital newsletter is available online. 

May’s edition of ‘group news’ can now be found at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk Packed with the latest information from landlords Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes, readers can also find out about work on the first new homes to be built as part of a £30m investment, how welfare advisors found more than £3m of unclaimed benefits and tax credits, and how the group is supporting a national campaign for more affordable homes. Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “Whether it’s building new homes, or restoring historic ones; helping tenants understand the benefits system or raising money for charity, we’ve got lots of exciting projects all across the region right now. group news is the best way to find out about them all in one place. “Our online newsletter is fully responsive, so all of the latest articles can be read on a PC, laptop, tablet and mobile phone.” 

To read May’s edition, which also includes news about the restoration of a historic building in Durham, visit www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk  
For a printed copy of the magazine email communications@cdhg.co.uk or contact: · 
Dale & Valley Homes: 0800 083 0333 
Durham City Homes: 0800 068 0013 
East Durham Homes: 0800 032 0835

Views on new homes wanted **Current**

Bowburn residents have been invited to a public consultation event on plans for new affordable homes in their community. County Durham Housing Group has plans to build 10 homes on land in Surtees Avenue near the centre of Bowburn. The three bedroom homes would be available under a rent-to-buy scheme once completed. Featuring high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems and double glazing; they are expected to bring big savings to tenants when compared with older homes, particularly those in the private rented sector. 

The consultation event takes place on Wednesday, 7 June at Bowburn Community Centre on Durham Road between 4pm and 6pm. Staff from County Durham Housing Group will be on hand to talk about the project and show local residents detailed plans of the proposed new homes. County Durham Housing Group Head of Development and Commercial Property, Kate Abson, said: “These new homes could help to meet demand for high quality and affordable new homes in Bowburn. We want to hear what local people think about the proposals and to answer any questions they may have about the potential development.” 

The development forms part of an overall 297 home new build programme by the group between the Tyne and Tees across a three year period. By 2020, County Durham Housing Group will have invested £32m across 17 sites providing a significant boost to employment in the area. “Our programme of new build houses right across the area is designed to help deliver affordable homes in the places where they’re really needed as well as providing a boost for communities and new jobs during construction.” Ms Abson added.

Benefits experts urge checks **Current**

Benefits experts at one of the north east’s largest landlords are urging tenants to check that their details are up to date after identifying more than £3m of unclaimed welfare benefits and tax credits in just 12 months. Welfare Benefits Advisors at County Durham Housing Group are reminding tenants of the importance of keeping their personal details up to date and making sure they notify the relevant authorities about changes in their circumstances. The team have uncovered dozens of cases where tenants were seriously struggling to make ends meet as a direct result of old or incomplete information in their benefits claims. 

In one case, a tenant with severe health issues had claimed over £10,000 less than she was entitled to before intervention from the County Durham Housing Group team. In total the team found £3,313, 392.63 in underpaid benefits from April 2016 to April 2017. Lynda Monaghan, Welfare Benefits Officer at County Durham Housing Group, said: “In many cases we’re finding vulnerable people in real hardship, essentially because they don’t fully understand the complexities of the benefits system. We’ve found people who are suffering from huge anxiety problems, struggling to pay their rent and getting into debt when they’re entitled to benefits that could prevent such hardship. “A large proportion of the people we speak to have made, or have been the subject of, simple mistakes when they’ve been injured, made unemployed, retired or changed their family circumstances. 

But these mistakes have been having a major impact on people’s lives. It costs nothing to get advice and it could make the difference between really struggling day to day and getting by.” New changes to the benefits system are also catching people out according to Lynda, with spare room subsidy and discretionary housing payments queries being high on the list of enquiries. A special drop in event where tenants will be able to speak face to face with welfare benefits experts will be taking place at East Durham Homes Customer Service Centre on Yoden Way in the Castle Dene shopping centre, Peterlee on Thursday, 1 June. The session will run from 2pm to 4pm with specialists on hand throughout to answer any queries. In another case, a disabled tenant had not claimed over £6,000 of enhanced personal independence payments that he was entitled to, following changes to the disability living allowance. “We know that some people don’t like talking about benefits, but our team are here to offer good advice to help those who genuinely need it. We’re not here to catch people out.” Lynda added. County Durham Housing Group is one of the region’s largest landlords with more than 18,000 properties. The group includes Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes. 

More information on benefits advice for tenants is available on the group’s website, www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk or by calling 0800 083 0333 for Dale & Valley Homes tenants, 0800 068 0013 for Durham City Homes tenants and 0800 032 0835 for East Durham Homes tenants.
Sowing The seeds of Success **Current**

Local social landlord DISC Housing is aiming to help tenants spruce up their gardens, back yards and their local community spaces this summer by sowing flower seeds. The Newton Aycliffe-based Registered Social Landlord successfully applied for garden packs to Big Lottery funded Grow Wild, the UK’s biggest-ever wild flower campaign, which aims to bring people together to transform local spaces with native, pollinator-friendly wild flowers and plants.

Sam Palmer of DISC Housing, said: “We’re thrilled to have got the packs from Grow Wild. “They’ve donated a wide variety of garden seeds which we are planning to work with our tenants to encourage them to brighten up their gardens, back yards other relevant spaces by helping them to plant these seeds and improve their homes and the areas in which they live”

Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **Current**

A local landlord’s weekly housing surgeries will answer tenant queries. 

East Durham Homes hosts regular two-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham. 

Customers can call in on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 12pm; and Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm to talk to an East Durham Homes officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services. 

Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.” 

Further information is available from East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk

Housing staff have raised more than £600 for a cancer charity in remembrance of a colleague **Current**

Workers at East Durham Homes raised £645 for Macmillan Cancer Support in just one day in memory of Tom Croft who passed away in December 2016 following a battle with the disease. Led by staff in the Peterlee based rent team, the money was raised through raffles, donations and a dress down day. 

 Jayne Adamson, senior income management officer from East Durham Homes, said: “Tom was a popular member of the team and is greatly missed. We all wanted to do something in his memory and raising money to help Macmillan Cancer Support continue their good work was the perfect way to do that.” County Durham Housing Group, the parent organisation of East Durham Homes, has also chosen Macmillan Cancer Support as one of three charities it actively raises money for.

Historic Durham homes given new old look **Current**

An historic Durham building dating back to 1759 has been returned to its traditional appearance after careful work by one of the north east’s largest landlords. 

The Georgian building on Church Street in the heart of Durham city centre has been disfigured for decades by unsympathetic 1980s windows. But now County Durham Housing Group has restored the 18th century structure to its former glory. After detailed research new timber framed sash windows have been produced to closely match the original style of the building. The new windows however feature the latest thin double glazing technology so that the building regains its traditional appearance, while tenants benefit from warmer homes and lower energy bills. 

Tenant Margaret Bottoms, who has been living in Church Street for seven years, said: “The new windows are absolutely brilliant; we’ve been looking forward to having this work done for a long time. It feels so much warmer inside the house now.” 

Although the majority of the grade II listed building is owned by County Durham Housing Group, arrangements were made for all of the premises to be improved at the same time by working closely with two other owners. Building Surveyor from County Durham Housing Group, Daryl Reed, said: “The property is a really attractive example of Georgian construction. But, probably in the 1920s, some of the windows were replaced and repaired using more modern materials and techniques. “When the more modern windows reached the end of their life we decided that it was only right to go the extra mile and do as much as we could to put the building back to its traditional appearance. We’re really pleased with the high quality of work we’ve been able to achieve.” 

The windows were produced in County Durham by Coxhoe Timber Services, supporting local jobs. Roland Cubello, from Coxhoe Timber Services, said: “This has been a very complicated job needing a lot of detailed work; liaising with heritage experts, meeting the requirements of planning for a listed building and working in partnership with County Durham Housing Group. But the end result has been more than worth it, we’re very pleased with the job.” Installation and repairs to the walls of the building were done in house by staff at County Durham Housing Group.
Centre Honours Community Figure **Current**

A centre in Belmont dedicated to a popular County Durham community leader has been officially opened. 

Lynn Jordison House on Broomside Lane was inaugurated on Wednesday, 12 April by the late County Durham Housing Group Board member’s family and former colleagues. The community centre has been completely refurbished by the housing group prior to taking on its new guise, with space for events, meetings and other activities. Six local groups including a residents association, a choir and a child health group have already signed up to use the facility. Ms Jordison passed away in June 2016 after a short illness. A plaque bearing the new name of the centre was unveiled by her husband, Clive, during a brief opening ceremony. He described the naming as ‘a wonderful tribute to Lynn’s memory.’ 

Lynn Jordison had been a key member of County Durham Housing Group’s Board; and also served as chair on the board of Durham City Homes. County Durham Housing Group Head of Housing Operations, Simon Bartlett, said: “Lynn was a highly respected member of our board who cared deeply about the communities we worked with. Naming this centre in her memory is a great way for us all to remember her. “I’m sure the centre will be well used and appreciated by many groups in the area.”

New homes bring affordable living to Ushaw Moor **Current**

Twenty five affordable homes in Ushaw Moor are welcoming their first residents after a major investment by one of the region’s largest landlords. Families are now moving into the new properties constructed for County Durham Housing Group on the Middlewood Moor development in the popular village. 

The homes, a mixture of two and three bedroom properties, have been built by national house builder Taylor Wimpey specifically for social rent by the housing group. The homes represent an investment of more than £1.7m by County Durham Housing Group to provide affordable homes in the area. Homes at Ushaw Moor feature high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems and double glazing; all expected to bring big savings to tenants when compared with older homes, particularly those in the private rented sector. The development forms part of an overall 297 home new build programme by the group between the Tyne and Tees across a three year period. By 2020, County Durham Housing Group will have invested £32m across 17 sites providing a significant boost to employment in the area. Ged Walsh, Director of Assets and Regeneration from County Durham Housing Group, said: “It’s great to be able to see tenants settling into their new home. 

These houses have been hugely popular because we’re able to offer a brand new property in a really great location at an affordable rent. “Our programme of new build homes is helping to meet demand for affordable homes in many parts of County Durham.” County Durham Housing Group, which is the umbrella organisation of landlords Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes, owns around 18,400 properties. This month marks the second anniversary since its establishment.

Housing group introduces new website **Current**

One of the north east’s largest landlords has launched a new website to help tenants access housing related information more easily. County Durham Housing Group has unveiled its new web platform, which brings together information from its partner landlords – Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes.

www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk has been designed to provide a one-stop shop for all social housing related matters in a clearer, easier to navigate format, that is fully responsive to mobile, tablet, laptop and PC devices. 

Jill Ancrum, Group Communications Manager for County Durham Housing Group, said: “We want to deliver the same great service for customers across all parts of County Durham Housing Group. Our new website is a key part of that. “Popular customer information like how to pay rent, how to report a repair, and how to find a home are all easily accessed from the homepage, as well as top news stories from across the county.” The new site is expected to receive more than 25,000 visits a month from new and existing tenants. 

Customers searching on previous landlord URLs will be redirected to www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk

The new DASH website has gone live! **Current**

It has been designed and built with grateful thanks to the Transform Foundation who have provided the funding. The new site was much needed as the old site had become tired and dated and was not particularly user friendly. The development of the new site started in August 2016 when our application for funding was approved. 

The design of the site has been carefully managed in order that we provide clear, accurate and accessible information to referral organisations, stakeholders and potential service users. A lot of thought was put into ensuring the site is personal and engaging and easy to manoeuvre and that news and events can be reported on in a timely and interesting way. There was also a lot of thought given to promoting fund raising, donations and other support for the valuable work we do. 

We hope you will find the new site interesting, engaging and easy to use and we would very much appreciate your feedback on anything you particularly like about the new site or anything you think we could improve on. 


Opening the door to fire safety **Current**

A new initiative involving one of the north east’s largest landlords and the fire and rescue service aims to raise awareness of fire safety around the home. County Durham Housing Group and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service have agreed a project that will see the fire service working more closely than ever before with tenants. One of the first initiatives of its type in the region, the new closer working relationship will enable experts in fire safety to visit homes that could potentially be at risk to give advice, guidance and implement preventative measures. Up to 18,500 families living in the homes of landlords Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes, as part of County Durham Housing Group, could benefit from the new work. 

Tenants can expect a knock on the door from fire safety officers to carry out an assessment of the property, discuss the steps they could take to reduce fire risk; and at the same time hear about suggested health and lifestyle changes. County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service Community Safety Manager, Andrew Allison, said: “This new initiative helps us to meet tenants face to face in their own home. “Our local knowledge, combined with the insight of County Durham Housing Group, will help us target the homes that we believe to be at greatest risk of fire. “We’ll be able to carry out fire safety checks and talk about early interventions we can carry out, as well as offering other advice to tenants about their health and wellbeing.” 

The initiative is covered by a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between County Durham Housing Group and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service. County Durham Housing Group Chief Executive, Bill Fullen, said: “The safety of our tenants and their property is paramount. “By working more closely with County Durham Fire and Rescue Service our tenants will be able to benefit from expert advice in their own home. “We’re always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to protect our communities and this new partnership will do just that.”


New parking improves Sherburn streets **Current**

Streets in a County Durham village have been made safer thanks to a series of parking improvements by one of the north east’s largest landlords.

Calls from residents in Sherburn to tackle parking problems have been met thanks to a project by County Durham Housing Group. Families living in Usher Avenue and Parkhouse Gardens, Sherburn, raised concerns about parking with the group, which stepped in to improve matters.

New off street parking and driveways have been installed at Parkhouse Gardens, which is close to a local school and was often congested at peak times. Nearby Usher Gardens has also benefitted from new driveways after double parked cars caused issues for residents.

One of the tenants in Usher Gardens who has received a new driveway is Lloyd Phillips. Mr Phillips, who has lived in Usher Gardens for four years, said: “We’ve had lots of problems with double parking in the street. It makes it really difficult for deliveries.

“The new drives have tidied the street up, and it looks lovely.”

County Durham Housing Group Building Surveyor, Daryl Reed, who managed the works said: “When these streets were built I don’t imagine anyone could have foreseen the huge number of cars on our roads today.

 “It’s great to be able to tackle tenants’ concerns and improve their surroundings. Work like this might seem pretty basic, but it has a direct and positive impact on our tenants and their homes.”

The works have been carried out by Groundworks, Landscape Management Services and Keepmoat. Geoff Milburn from Groundworks said: “It was a pleasure to contribute to the safety of all residents including those of County Durham Housing Group.”

Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **Current**

A local landlord’s weekly housing surgeries will answer tenant queries.

East Durham Homes hosts regular two-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham.

Customers can call in on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 12pm; and Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm to talk to an East Durham Homes officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services.

Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.”

For more information call East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk

New team helps residents back into work **Current**

A new team will help Durham’s residents to secure training and job opportunities.

County Durham Housing Group has brought together an Employability Team to work with customers to find work, access training, gain apprenticeships and venture into self-employment.
Claire Maddison, Senior Employability Co-ordinator, said: “If tenants have found themselves stuck in a rut and want to change, but are unsure where to start, then we can help.
“We work with people of all ages and backgrounds to reach their full potential by providing tailored training programmes, advice and support.”

For help, advice and support on changing your career path call 0191 349 7657 or email employability@cdhg.co.uk

Apprentice proves he’s a bright spark **Current**

An apprentice electrician at a local housing group has a bright future ahead of him after passing an important trade exam.
Jake Dowson, 18, of Ferryhill is an apprentice with County Durham Housing Group’s repairs and improvements division, Group Property Services.

And Jake is one of a select few in his electrical installation class at New College Durham to pass an exam on the 17th edition of the Institute of Engineering and Technology's Wiring Regulations.
Jake said: “Anyone working as an electrician or in a related trade has to have up-to-date knowledge of the regulations.
“Passing the 17th Edition exam proves that you have an overall understanding of how to use the regulations book.
“The people in my class who put their heads down and got stuck in were the ones who passed, proving that it pays to do your revision.

“Now I want to become fully qualified and then hopefully I can go on to do inspection testing and maybe a HNC.
“My apprenticeship has taught me lifelong skills that I won’t forget, thanks to watching how experienced people work and then starting to do things myself.”
Group Property Services’ Electrical Supervisor, Neil Graham, said: “Jake has proven himself to be hardworking, quick to learn and keen to take on new challenges, which has enabled him to be able to pass his 17th edition with flying colours. “
Further information about County Durham Housing Group can be found at ttps://www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk/

Monday, 6 to Friday, 10 March is National Apprenticeship Week, which aims to encourage more people to investigate these schemes as a career option.

 

Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **Current**

A local landlord’s weekly housing surgeries will answer tenant queries.
East Durham Homes hosts regular two-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham.
Customers can call in on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 12pm; and Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm to talk to an East Durham Homes officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services. 
Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.”
For more information call East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk
 
The light comes on when no one’s home **Current**

A Durham resident feels safe and secure in her home following renovation works by a local landlord.
 
Valerie Elmore of Neil Crescent in Quarrington Hill was left devastated last December when someone broke into her home and stole Christmas gifts.
 
She said: “I’d been to the bingo and it was such an awful feeling to walk through my own front door and know someone had been inside my property.”
 
The crime happened at the same time as renovations to Valerie’s two-bed bungalow being carried out by County Durham Housing Group’s repairs and maintenance division, Group Property Services (GPS).
 
John Graham, GPS Planned Supervisor, said: “As well as installing a new kitchen, bathroom and full rewire, it was important that Valerie could feel safe behind her own front door once more.
 
“As a victim of a criminal act, Valerie’s home was identified as requiring additional security lighting by the police, which the GPS team fitted at the same time as other works.
 
“The new sensory lighting around her home means she can be alerted to people within the confines of her garden.”
 
Valerie continued: “I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome of the improvements to my bungalow. All the workers were brilliant and I definitely feel safer and more secure again.”
 
Thankfully the perpetrator of the break-in has since been arrested.
 
County Durham Housing Group works closely with the police and other organisations to ensure residents can feel safe in their neighbourhood.
 
For more information about the group’s work visit www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk
 
Housing group awarded investment partner status **Current**

County Durham Housing Group has been awarded investment partner status from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The partnership confirms the HCA’s confidence in the group to draw down funding for its development schemes independently, without the backing of another housing provider.
Following a rigorous application process, the HCA has now endorsed the group’s technical ability, financial capacity and business standing to receive public funding.

Ged Walsh, Director of Assets and Regeneration at County Durham Housing Group, said: “Partnership status is a real feat as it will allow us to develop a close working relationship with the HCA.
“We are delighted to be able to represent the various areas of the county we manage, to ensure our new build ambitions are suited to our residents’ needs.”

The status follows the group’s recent success in securing £6.7m to develop 121 new houses for Rent to Buy; and 74 specialist bungalows for affordable rent by 2021.

The Rent to Buy scheme aims to help people step on to the housing ladder by offering affordable homes at 80% of market rent, which will allow residents to save for a deposit at the same time.
Karen Anderson, Specialist at the HCA, said: “Achieving investment partner status is great news as it means once County Durham Housing Group starts building new affordable homes, it can access funding from the HCA to help meet the costs.”
The funding is part of the government’s Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP), which highlights its commitment to extending home ownership and a shared society for everyone.

  

Latest issue of housing magazine now online **Current**

The latest issue of County Durham Housing Group’s digital newsletter is only a click away. 
February’s edition of ‘group news’ is now available at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk

Packed with the latest information from landlords Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes, readers can also find out about a £6.7m award to build 195 new homes across the county.
Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “This is the second edition of our monthly magazine, which has had already had a great response from tenants.

For a printed copy of the magazine email communications@cdhg.co.uk or contact:
Dale & Valley Homes: 0800 083 0333
Durham City Homes: 0800 068 0013
East Durham Homes: 0800 032 0835

Housing colleagues pay up to dress down **Current**

Employees at a local housing group raised hundreds of pounds for charity by dressing down for the day.
Staff at County Durham Housing Group and its landlords – Dale & Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes – raised £254 for Cancer Research UK.

County Durham Housing Group’s Chief Executive, Bill Fullen, said: “Colleagues across the group chose three charities to raise money for this year: Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and Macmillan Cancer Support.

“This is the first of our monthly fundraisers and it’s a fantastic outcome for such a worthwhile cause.
“The group’s employees continue to show what can be achieved by working together.”

In the last financial year, colleagues across County Durham Housing Group raised more than £11,000 for a variety of charities.

 

Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **Current**

A local landlord’s weekly housing surgeries will answer tenant queries.
East Durham Homes hosts regular two-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham.

Customers can call in on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 12pm; and Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm to talk to an East Durham Homes officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services. 

Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.”

For more information call East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk

Planning permission granted for new homes on city centre outskirts **Current**

Permission for a new housing development has been granted on the boundary of Durham city centre.
County Durham Housing Group’s application to build six two-bed and two three-bed affordable homes at Folly Terrace in Pity Me has been agreed.
The new properties will be available for affordable rent and will help contribute towards the group’s ambition to develop much needed homes across the county.
Work is now underway to appoint a building contractor for the scheme. 
Building works are expected to commence this spring, with an early 2018 target date set for overall completion.
Kate Abson, Senior Manager (Regeneration and Commercial Activities) at County Durham Housing Group, said: “Permission to build affordable homes for rent in this particular location, which is so close to Durham city centre, is fantastic news.
 “This is one of many new build projects we have in development at the moment as we aim to provide homes for a range of household needs.”  
Most recently the group were awarded an allocation of £6.7m from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to build 195 homes across Durham by 2021. These 195 homes are in addition to the scheme at Pity Me. 
For more information on the group’s work visit www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk
 
Durham Young Peoples Service **Current**

We currently have vacancies coming up at Durham and Chester-le-Street Young Peoples Service ( Grove Road) and some of our dispersed properties in Spennymoor due to positive move on’s.
 
If you have any clients aged between 16 and 35 that would be suitable for supported housing that is in need of accommodation please make a referral.
 
Please see attached referral form and service definition.
 
Please submit your referral to the gatewaydurham@homegroup.org.uk.
 
Local Government Housing Commission**Current**

‘Building our Homes, Communities and Future’, the final report of the Local Government Association (LGA) Housing Commission, was published in December 2016. The LGA Housing Commision was established to help councils deliver their ambition for places. The LGA state that “It has been supported by a panel of advisers and has engaged with over 100 partners; hearing from councils, developers, charities, health partners, and many others. All partners agree that there is no silver bullet, and all emphasise the pivotal role of councils in helping provide strong leadership, collaborative working, and longer-term certainty for places and the people that live there.” Recommendations within the report include:
Freeing councils from restrictions on their borrowing to build more affordable homes
Giving councils powers making it easier to compulsory purchase land that has planning permission for homes but which is not being built out
Local discretion on the number of Starter Homes required in new developments
Allowing councils to set planning fees locally to cover costs
Give councils tools to ensure effective land markets and to capture increases in land values to fund infrastructure
Pilot ways to financially reward housing providers who successful support tenants into work and increase their earnings
Ensure funding is available to enable older people to modify their own homes
Build more new homes that support healthy ageing and reduce costs pressures on health and social care
You can access the report here.
 
Proportion of 25-year-old homeowners halved in 20 years **
Current**

New analysis for the Local Government Association reveals almost half (46 per cent) of all 25-year-olds owned their home 20 years ago. In a generational shift, only 20 per cent of 25-year-olds are on the housing ladder today. The analysis, carried out by estate agents Savills, reveals:
6,550 social rented homes were built in 2015/16. This is a drop of 88 per cent from 20 years ago when 56,950 were built in 1995/96.
On average, private renters now pay 34 per cent of their total household income on rent and social and affordable renters pay 29 per cent. This rises to 51.5 per cent of incomes for private renters when deducting state financial support, and 41.7 per cent for social renters.
In comparison, homeowners pay an average of 18 per cent of their total household income on their mortgage, and those that own outright have no housing costs.
Average house prices are now at 7.9 times average earnings. The average size of a deposit needed to get a mortgage is 62 per cent of annual incomes, in London it is 131 per cent.
You can read more on this analysis here.

Landlord strides across stepping stones to improve employment **Current**

Two of Bishop Auckland’s largest organisations are offering a course designed to improve employment prospects.
Dale & Valley Homes has joined forces with regional charity Auckland Castle Trust to introduce ‘Stepping Stones’ – a new service to help people gain the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the workplace.
Two-hour sessions will be held over a 20-week period, starting on Friday, 3 February, where residents can access free support around applying for jobs, how to perform well at interview stage, entering the workforce, as well as improving practical and social skills.

Kimberley Batey, Community Training Project Co-ordinator, who has worked on the project at Dale & Valley Homes said: “Stepping Stones has been developed to help people feel confident and prepared to re-enter the workforce or find a job for the very first time.”

Friday, 3 February’s introductory session will take place between 11am and 3pm.

For more information and to reserve a place call Kimberley on 01388 770 974 or email k.batey@daleandvalleyhomes.co.uk

Help to attend the course, including transport and free childcare, can be arranged. For more information on other free training events visit www.daleandvalleyhomes.co.uk The Stepping Stones project is funded by NE Procurement.

Housing group launches new online tenant magazine **
Current**

A new housing magazine is only a click away.

County Durham Housing Group has launched ‘group news’, a new monthly digital publication available at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk that will keep customers up to date on the work of its landlords.

By visiting the online bookshelf readers can find out all about Dale & Valley Homes’, Durham City Homes’ and East Durham Homes’ work to engage with tenants and improve homes and estates.
Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, has worked with customers to develop the new site.
She said: “Over the last six months we have held a tenant focus groups to review our landlords’ newsletters and found that they were expensive to maintain, were only issued three times a year, and we weren’t able to track how many copies were being read.
“group news will allow us to see which articles are proving popular, and as it’s fully responsive, all of the latest stories and information from across the county can be read on a PC, laptop, tablet and mobile phone.”
To read January’s edition, which includes a special ‘Money Matters’ feature on the government’s welfare reform agenda, visit www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk

For a printed copy of the magazine email communications@cdhg.co.uk or contact:
Dale & Valley Homes: 0800 083 0333
Durham City Homes: 0800 068 0013
East Durham Homes: 0800 032 0835
 
Build on two-bed bungalows given the go ahead **Current**

County Durham Housing Group has received planning permission to develop two two-bed bungalows in Rookhope. 
The new properties will be built on land at Boltsburn Crescent and contribute towards the group’s ambitions to develop much needed homes across the county.
Work is underway to appoint a building contractor for the scheme to start on site during the spring, with a target completion date of early 2018.

Kate Abson, Senior Manager (Regeneration and Commercial Activities) at County Durham Housing Group, said: “We’re delighted that this scheme has been given the go ahead as it will enable us to develop much needed accommodation in one of the most rural areas of the county.
 “And this is one of many new build projects we have in development as we aim to provide homes for a range of household needs.” 

Most recently the group was awarded an allocation of £6.7m from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to build 195 across Durham by 2021, in addition to those at Rookhope. 

For more information on the group’s work visit www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk

Housing group secures £6.7m to build 195 homes across Durham **Current**

County Durham Housing Group has secured £6.7m to develop 195 new homes.
The group has been awarded funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) that will enable the development of 121 houses for Rent to Buy; and 74 specialist bungalows for affordable rent by 2021.
The Rent to Buy scheme aims to help people step on to the housing ladder by offering affordable homes at 80% of market rent, which will allow residents to save for a deposit at the same time.

Bill Fullen, Group Chief Executive, said: “This announcement marks the beginning of a fantastic development opportunity for the county, bringing much needed homes across 10 separate sites; as well as employment opportunities.
“And we are delighted to be able to add a new tenure to our housing offer through the Rent to Buy scheme, which will help ease the transition from the rental market to the housing ladder for our younger residents.”
Karen Anderson, Area Manager from the HCA, said: “I am really looking forward to the new homes starting to be built, as part of the government’s commitment to increasing housing supply and halting the decline in affordability; crucially improving housing choice for people in County Durham.”

The funding is part of the government’s Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP), which highlights its commitment to extending home ownership and a shared society for everyone.
For more information on County Durham Housing Group’s work visit www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk


Residents invited to drop-in with their housing queries **Current**

A local landlord is launching weekly housing surgeries to answer tenant queries.
From next week East Durham Homes will be holding regular two-hour drop-ins at Durham County Council’s Customer Access Point in St Johns Square, Seaham.

Customers can call in on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 12pm; and Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm to talk to an East Durham Homes officer about their rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour concerns, and find out about other support services. 

Gary Lormor, Customer Services Manager, said: “These informal sessions are a great way for people to talk to one of our advisers face to face if they are in the Seaham area.”

For more information call East Durham Homes on 0800 032 0835 or email enquiry@eastdurhamhomes.co.uk