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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:
Welcome to DASHtalk November 2017 **Current**


Youth Homeless North East Newsletter**Current**

Kieran Platts has now left YHNE for a fantastic opportunity with Who Cares? Scotland. Kieran was an integral member of the YHNE team and has played a massive role in shaping the charity to date. We wish him all the best in his new role! We are currently in the process of employing a new Regional Project Officer but in the meantime, please send any enquiries to arron@yhne.org.uk

Click for the Newsletter

Funding brings theatre to Bishop Auckland **Current**

Dozens of youngsters have had the opportunity to enjoy an inspiring stage show in their own community thanks to funding from one of the region’s biggest social housing providers. 

Children from Woodhouse Close Estate and King James I Academy in Bishop Auckland enjoyed the show, performed by Mad Alice Theatre Company, thanks to a grant from County Durham Housing Group. ‘She wins all the races’ – which draws upon the experience of actor Shelley O’ Brien – is described as a ‘heartening one-woman show’ celebrating the courage and resilience of one little girl. Funding for the play came from County Durham Housing Group’s ‘group grant’ scheme, which provides funding for small projects in County Durham. Mad Alice Theatre Company was awarded £500 to help make the shows in Bishop Auckland possible. 

Mad Alice’s Artistic Director, Shelley O’Brien, said: “We are extremely grateful for this funding as it helped us to purchase a projector – a vital piece of equipment needed for the show, where digital imagery is an integral part of the design.” County Durham Housing Group Funding Officer, Damian Pearson, said: “This performance was a fun way of getting across a serious message about how we can all cope with adversity in our lives. Bringing a play like this into the community in Bishop Auckland will, I hope, prove inspiring and entertaining. “It’s the kind of project that ‘group grant’ helps to make possible, where a small amount of funding can make all the difference.” Any community organisation, non-profit making group, charity or school working in the areas served by County Durham Housing Group is eligible for the ‘group grant’ 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

Permission granted for affordable bungalows in Bishop Auckland **Current**

 Planning permission has been granted for a dozen new wheelchair accessible bungalows to be built in Bishop Auckland. The 12 new two-bed bungalows are set to be constructed on vacant land at Howard Close, in the Woodhouse Close area of Bishop Auckland. All of the new homes are being built by County Durham Housing Group for affordable rent. The bungalows are being constructed from the outset with features that make them well-suited to the needs of wheelchair users. They will include purpose built wet rooms, level access throughout and extra wide doorways. 

Permission for the development has been granted by Durham County Council, subject to a section 106 agreement. Construction is expected to start in spring 2018 with the first families expected to move in by early 2019. Featuring high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems and double glazing, the new homes are expected to bring big savings to tenants when compared with older homes; particularly those in the private rented sector. The Howard Close project is the latest part of a £30m investment in new homes across the region by County Durham Housing Group. 

The programme will see around 300 new homes built and is expected to create 100 new jobs and apprenticeships. County Durham Housing Group Head of Development and Commercial Property, Kate Abson, said: “These new homes have been conceived specifically to meet the needs of the Woodhouse Close area. Demand for bungalows in the area is high. These homes are being constructed to a high standard with a number of features that will make them ideally suited to the needs of wheelchair users too. “As one of the region’s biggest social landlords, it’s great to be able to provide homes like these, that the private sector would struggle to deliver.”

Housing group joins fight against fly-tippers **Current**

One of the region’s largest social landlords is increasing its efforts to tackle fly-tipping. County Durham Housing Group is on a quest to rid streets, back lanes and footpaths of dumped sofas, fridges and other waste. Fly-tipping costs the group thousands of pounds every year, but through a partnership with Durham County Council enforcement action is being ramped-up; with customers being called upon to report any incidents they encounter. New highly-visible response methods have been introduced to help demonstrate how seriously the issue of fly-tipping is being taken. It is hoped this will act as a deterrent and encourage members of the public who spot fly-tippers to report what they see anonymously. 

The maximum fine for fly-tipping is £50,000, vehicles used can be seized for up to 15 days, and on-the-spot fixed penalty notices of up to £400 can also be issued. County Durham Housing Group Estates Team Leader, Peter Black, said: “Dumped furniture, electrical items and waste is not just an eyesore; it can be a real safety hazard too. We won’t accept any fly-tipping in our neighbourhoods and don’t hesitate to use all of the powers available to us and our partners to tackle any offenders.” County Durham Housing Group is responsible for more than 18,000 properties stretching from rural Weardale to the Durham coast. Neighbourhood and estates teams from the group are working to ensure that all tenants understand the laws around dumping waste and fly-tipping, as well as how to report any problems. “The law around dumping rubbish is very clear. It’s the responsibility of households to dispose of their waste legally. That includes what is known as the ‘duty of care’, to check that anyone you pay to remove rubbish for you, is disposing of it legally too.” Peter added. Durham County Council operates 13 household waste recycling centres right across the county. 

Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “The vast majority of people do the right thing and get rid of their waste legally, but there’s a small minority who continue to blight their communities. “There is never an excuse for fly-tipping, especially when there are a number of ways to dispose of rubbish and waste responsibly. “People also have a responsibility to know where their waste is going to end up, and sometimes when the price is too good to be true – it is just that. “If your waste is fly-tipped and traced back to you, you could be taken to court and prosecuted.”

Contract signed to bring £30m new homes programme to Crook **Current**

A County Durham town is to get 40 new affordable homes as part of a £30m investment programme, creating more than 100 new jobs and apprenticeships. The new properties in Crook will include two and three bedroomed houses, as well as two and three bed bungalows. Contracts have been signed for the project at West End Villas, in the heart of the town, which is being delivered by a partnership comprising one of the region’s largest landlords, 

County Durham Housing Group and Galliford Try Partnerships North. Featuring high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems and double glazing, the new homes are expected to bring big savings to tenants when compared with older homes, particularly those in the private rented sector. Construction work is expected to be completed in stages during 2018, with the first families moving in shortly after. All of the new homes in Crook will be available for affordable rent. County Durham Housing Group Development Manager, Tom Winter, said: “We all know that demand for affordable homes is really high right across the country at the moment. This new project in Crook will help to deliver new, high quality homes to families that really need them. “We’re particularly pleased to be developing bungalows for customers that need them too. As a social landlord it’s great to be able to build homes that the private sector would not ordinarily be able to deliver. 

The Crook properties are part of a major house building project by County Durham Housing Group that will see almost 300 new homes built on 17 sites stretching from rural Weardale to the Durham coast. Galliford Try has contributed £1.2 million to the project from its 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) grant, secured from the Homes and Communities Agency. Alex Ross, Development Manager with Galliford Try Partnerships North, added: “Working closely with housing provider partners to improve the quality and choice of homes across the North East is a core aim and we are delighted to have been selected to deliver this project.”

Free advice on Universal Credit rollout **Current**

Weekly face-to-face advice on the rollout of Universal Credit is being offered in Peterlee and Seaham thanks to one of the region’s largest social landlords. County Durham Housing Group’s dedicated Universal Credit Team will be on hand to support tenants in Jobcentre offices on a weekly basis. Officers will be taking appointments in Seaham Jobcentre, St Johns Square, from 9.15am to 1pm every Monday; and at Peterlee Jobcentre, St Cuthbert's Road, from 10.15am to 2.15pm every Friday. 

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 this month (October 2017) all claimants under pensionable age in Peterlee and Seaham will be affected by the digital rollout of Universal Credit. This includes couples and families. 

Appointments to discuss Universal Credit in Peterlee and Seaham can be made by calling 0800 032 0835 or by emailing universal.credit@cdhg.co.uk Anita Lowther, Universal Credit Team Leader, said: “We’re here to help our tenants through these changes. “Many of our customers feel like they don’t have all of the information they need, or are confused by how Universal Credit will work for them individually. “We can offer one-to-one guidance and support, and to ensure that if mistakes have been made, they can be corrected by working with the Department for Work and Pensions.” Anita and her team have already helped several tenants whose Universal Credit payment had been underpaid, leading to hardship. In one case a customer had received £1,700 less than they could have claimed. By working with the Department for Work and Pensions, the tenant is now in receipt of their full entitlement and they have received a backdated payment too.

Social landlord tops £3k in charity cash **Current**

County Durham Housing Group’s fundraising efforts have helped to raise more than £3,000 for three national charities. Through bake sales, raffles, tombolas, dressing down and up, £3,023 has been collectively raised so far this year for Macmillan Cancer Support, British Heart Foundation, and Cancer Research UK. Each year County Durham Housing Group staff select three charities for their fundraising efforts. 

Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “The generosity of our employees seems to know no bounds. Our teams are always so enthusiastic when it comes to finding ways to raise money for the charities they have chosen.” County Durham Housing Group is one of the north east’s largest landlords, with around 18,400 homes in communities stretching from Rookhope in upper Weardale to Seaham on the Durham coast. The group also operates a funding scheme, known as ‘group grant’ to provide small grants for charities and community organisations operating in the area. Since launch this summer dozens of groups have benefited from funding, ranging from clothing banks to dance clubs. 

For more information visit www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk

Apprentices celebrate full-time jobs **Current**

A group of apprentices with a leading social landlord are celebrating after securing full-time jobs at the end of their training. County Durham Housing Group has offered full-time employment to no fewer than five of its apprentices after they completed their extensive on-the-job training. The group, which offers apprenticeships in areas as diverse as plumbing and customer service each year, invests heavily in training and development of its local workforce. All five demonstrated their abilities during an open recruitment process and have now begun their full-time roles in various parts of the business, which has bases in Bishop Auckland, Durham, Peterlee and Seaham. 

The apprentices will join the group’s 450 other members of staff to provide homes and support for no fewer than 22,000 tenants in communities from Rookhope to the Durham coast. Meghan Taylor has just started in her new position as an Administration Assistant after undertaking a business administration apprenticeship. She said: “The best thing about doing an apprenticeship for me is that you can learn while earning money. There’s no need to go to college all week and then have to do a job as well. Apprenticeships make it all fit in together, with much less pressure.” 

Another former apprentice celebrating is Deborah Woods. She has just begun her new career as a Community Investment Assistant. “Although I have qualifications, I didn’t have work experience due to bringing up a family. So getting an apprenticeship has been a ‘foot in the door’ to employment. It opens up career opportunities I never thought I would have.” 

Deborah said. Louise Shillinglaw, Head of People and Organisational Development at County Durham Housing Group, said: “Apprenticeships form a key part of our business and are a tangible way for us to ensure we are supporting the communities we operate in. “We’ve found some phenomenal talent through our programme and some of our previous apprentices have already progressed into management level roles in the group. “I’m really pleased for our new recruits and I hope they go on to have long and successful careers in the housing sector.” 

Since being formed in 2015, County Durham Housing Group has created a number of apprenticeships. The group is currently expanding with a £30m programme of new house building delivering nearly 300 homes across 17 sites throughout the region.

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

The latest issue of County Durham Housing Group’s digital newsletter is available online. September’s edition of ‘group news’ can now be found at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk Readers can find out about how the group performed during the latest financial year, why youngsters from Dawdon will be dancing their way around the country thanks to a new funding scheme, and where County Durham Housing Group’s latest affordable housing development is set to be built. 

Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “From supporting community groups to building new homes, we’ve got so much going on 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.” August’s edition – which also includes news about face-to-face advice sessions on Universal Credit, plus the latest employability and training courses – can be found at www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk 

Anyone wanting a printed copy of the magazine should 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

Permission granted for affordable homes **
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Nearly 50 affordable homes are set to be built in Seaham after planning permission was granted for new family houses and bungalows in the Parkside area of the town. The new homes are part of a £30m development project by County Durham Housing Group to bring more affordable homes to communities across the region. 

The development, on a brownfield site near Laburnum Crescent, will provide 30 new three bedroom houses and 18 bungalows that offer a mix of two and three bedrooms. Permission for the development has been granted by Durham County Council, subject to a section 106 agreement. Construction is expected to start in Spring 2018 with the first families expected to move in in early 2019. When complete, all of the bungalows will be offered for affordable rent and will be available to let via Durham Key Options. The houses are all set to be offered on a rent-to-buy basis, offering a vital first step onto the housing ladder for 30 families. The houses are part of a major programme of new house building by County Durham Housing Group, which will see around 300 new homes built on sites between the Tyne and the Tees. County Durham Housing Group Head of Development and Commercial Property, Kate Abson, said: “This project has been designed to deliver the affordable homes that Seaham needs. We expect interest in the rent-to-buy properties to be very high and we know there is also strong demand for affordable bungalows in the area. “The Parkside site is a very important development for us, and shows our commitment to providing affordable homes where they are most needed in the county. We can’t wait to get started on site.” Featuring high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems and double glazing; the new homes are expected to bring big savings to tenants when compared with older homes, particularly those in the private rented sector. 

Moving On Newsletter **Current**

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

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

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 **Current**

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 **Current**

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 **Current**

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  **Current**

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 **Current**

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 **Current**

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. 

Trimdon kids are first for funding **Current**

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

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

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 **Current**

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

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 **Current**

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.

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 
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.”