Share your views with Michael Hughes on 01656 727948 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You could win £50 of shopping vouchers for just giving your opinion!
Valleys to Coast customers submitted their suggestions for the name of our new homes in Cefn Cribwr.
After receiving over 60 entries and completing the application process we are pleased to share that the chosen name is Clos Sant Ioan, meaning St Johns Close in English.
This was a popular suggestion amongst local residents too.
The name reflects the history of the site, which was once home to the former St John’s Ambulance Hall, as well as the former athletic club.
Located on the junction of Cefn Road and Bedford Close in Cefn Cribwr, Bridgend, the site has a rich history - something Valleys to Coast is extremely pleased to be able to acknowledge in the naming of the development.
The former Ambulance Hall first opened on 1st January 1938, and was intended, as The Glamorgan Gazette put it at the time, as “a dynamic centre, infusing happiness through the whole of a community”.
As well as bringing first aid training to members of the community, the venue itself was used in a number of different ways from hosting host dances to concerts. During the Second World War, the hall even functioned as the canteen for the local primary school.
The Cefn Cribwr St John Ambulance Division were known throughout South Wales for their skills - competitions were held between the local St John teams and Cefn Cribwr became known for winning most of the tests they competed in.
Honouring the initial aim of the Ambulance Hall, Valleys to Coast is keen to preserve and enhance the Memorial Garden, creating a pleasant space that the whole community will be able to enjoy.
Looking forward, Valleys to Coast is aiming to bring this sense of community back to the site, supporting our vision of helping to build a better Wales and breathing life back into an area of Cefn Cribwr that has been vacant for years.
The development will bring much needed flexible and accessible housing to the area. The two-storey development will consist of four single-bedroom flats, three two-bedroom flats, and three single-bedroom flats which will have wheelchair access.
To find out more about the development, take a look at the information pack here.
If you would like to share some history of stories about Cefn Cribwr, we would love to hear from you. Maybe you volunteered there, or perhaps attended a Birthday party or wedding. You can share your stories by contacting us on email at email@example.com or by commenting on our Facebook and Twitter posts about the site and development.
Three new benches have been installed in Pwll Y Waun, Porthcawl, facilitated by Valleys to Coast, as part of the community benefits commitments in their contract with United Living. United Living won the contract to carry out structural repairs on our balconies and walkways, plus make improvements to drainage.
The benches, two of which are facing onto Pwll y Waun Lake and one near the bus stop on Woodland Avenue, had previously been in a bad state of disrepair. The new benches will give residents a space where they can enjoy local nature spots.
Jonathan Philips, Project Manager with United Living commented how "United Living are happy to give something back to the community that has been very helpful during the difficult past year due to the pandemic."
Rachel Lovell, Communities and Commercial Business Partner added how crucial access to usable open spaces was. “The lake at Pwll Y Waun is a popular landmark in Porthcawl that offers tranquility in a natural setting.
“One of our thriving communities' strategy intentions is to provide external spaces that make a positive contribution to the environment and the well being of our communities. The replacement of the benches complements the other recently refurbished local authority owned benches around the rest of the lake."
New online event will explore ideas for open spaces in Wildmill.
While the pandemic means we can’t get out to our estates at the moment it doesn't mean we can’t meet together virtually, so Valleys to Coast is this month inviting residents of Wildmill to meet with us online in a new live event.
‘Valleys to Coast Live’ will this month focus on open spaces in Wildmill and give residents the opportunity to share their thoughts on what they would like to see in the estate.
Joining us at the event will be local councillors and the neighbourhood teams from Valleys to Coast.
The event will take place online on the 24th March from 13:30-14:30 and you can book a place by completing this form. Once completed, full joining instructions for the meeting will be sent to you via email. All you need to join is a computer, tablet or mobile phone and an internet connection.
Sign up by Tuesday the 23rd to join the conversation.
In this session you will have a chance to discuss your thoughts on what can be done to improve open spaces in the area and we will be looking to work with you and the Council to take some of these ideas forward.
The event is open to Valleys to Coast customers, private residents of Wildmill as well as local councillors and business owners in the area.
We are looking to apply to Bridgend County Borough Council for a street name for our development in Cefn Cribwr, and we are eager to hear your ideas.
Located on the junction of Cefn Road and Bedford Close in Cefn Cribwr, Bridgend, the site has a rich history as both the former athletics club and the St John Ambulance Hall. The Ambulance Hall not only supplied first aid training to the community, it also hosting dances and other social events.
The history of this site is something that we are eager to honour by reflecting its past in the naming of the development.
The development will bring affordable housing to the area, as well as breath life into a site that has sat empty for too long. We are also keen to preserve and enhance the Memorial Garden, creating a relaxing green space for the whole community to enjoy.
All ideas are welcome, the final name will be translated into Welsh in line with the Council policy for new street names in Bridgend, but we welcome suggestions in both English and Welsh.
Bridgend County Borough Council will decide the final name for the street.
Please share your ideas and suggestions with us by completing this form.
Closing date for entries is the 12th of April 2021.
Bridgend Foodbank has recently relocated from their former base in Nolton Street to Hope Baptist Church, with the help of Valleys to Coast and SERS.
As the head lease was due to expire on the former Bridgend Foodbank premises in Nolton Street, discussions commenced to move it to Hope Church in conjunction with plans to open a community café aimed at providing a relaxed environment for clients, and to give members of the church and the local community a space to engage with each other on a regular basis.
The foodbank moved into a refurbished part of Hope Church earlier this year, with works primarily undertaken by SERS, a cladding contractor, through Valley to Coast’s community benefits programme. Valleys to Coast assisted by providing support and equipment during the relocation. Support was also provided by Spring Consult and City Electrical Factors.
Speaking about the relocation process, Steve Tucker of Steve Tucker and Associates who supported the relocation commented how it would not have been possible without the support of Valleys to Coast and SERS. “To have seen the relocation through during such a challenging period demonstrates the commitment of both companies to benefitting the communities in which they work.”
Steve explained how the Foodbank has helped those in crisis over the last year totalling 5,669 individuals - 3,789 adults and 1,880 children. “The new premises will allow us to help our clients by having referral agents to hand to help with any other issues that may arise.”
The pandemic presented a number of financial challenges for families and individuals across the country during the past year, making foodbanks more important than ever. However, they have had to keep up with these demands whilst ensuring people could access their services safely, in line with government guidelines. The increased demands for Bridgend Foodbank means they are now seeking larger storage premises, and hope to relocate from its main depot during this year.
Mike Roberts, Managing Director of SERS, said they were delighted to be involved in the Bridgend Foodbank project when approached by Valleys to Coast who SERS have been working with for a number of years.
“Facilities like this are even more important to local communities due to the uncertain times we are all faced with, and it was particularly humbling to be involved when approached by Valleys to Coast and Steve Tucker, who was leading the project to relocate the foodbank to its new location, the well known Hope Church in Bridgend.”
Rachel Lovell, Communities and Commercial Business Partner at Valleys To Coast explained how Valleys To Coast has a communities strategy which sets out the organisation’s intentions to support its communities in areas such as our external estates and environment, foundational economy, health and wellbeing, wealth and employability and community resilience.
“We are delighted to have supported and facilitated the relocation of Bridgend Foodbank, during very difficult times. This new and more central and accessible location of the foodbank within Bridgend town centre, combined with the cafe area, will enable a number of agencies to offer a range of support to our communities.”
A new Chief Executive, award-winning eco-homes, and our response to the pandemic; Valleys to Coast reflects on a transformative year.
Reflecting on the last year in our Annual Review, Valleys to Coast has been able to look back on a year that has seen a new Chief Executive join, tenants moving into innovative new homes, helping customers through tough financial times and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic completely changing the way we live and work.
This unprecedented year has been captured in both our financial statements and in a short Annual Review video, featuring the key highlights of the year and Valleys to Coast staff, sharing their experiences of how we have had to adapt our services since lockdown in March.
Financial Statements for 2019/20. (Opens in new window)
More importantly than ever, Valleys to Coast is committed to supporting its customers and colleagues, and has ensured over the last year that it is providing homes where people can feel happy and safe.
Here are the key findings from our Annual Review and Financial Statements:
Valleys to Coast has adapted throughout the pandemic to continue providing support to customers and ensuring they remain able to access services when needed. All customer services, except face-to-face, were successfully moved to home-working and remained available from 9-5.
Our teams have been working hard to ensure that we are providing value for money, our Money Matters and Welsh Water teams have saved approximately £1.26m for customers in the year. We also helped a 99-year-old customer reclaim £5,000 in time for their 100th birthday.
By staying connected with our customers and continuing to provide excellent service, more than 81% reported at the year-end that they were satisfied with services. Valleys to Coast is proud to deliver quality homes and services to our customers, who are at the heart of our organisation.
Building safe and desirable homes
The average time taken to complete repairs in our properties substantially exceeded performance targets, with urgent repairs being completed within 4 and half days, and emergency repairs resolved within 9 hours.
In August, we saw the first Valleys to Coast tenants move into our brand new, low-carbon homes. The ski-lodge style ‘Barnhaus’ properties won the national Grand Designs’ Self-Build on a Shoestring competition for its innovative, eco-friendly design.
By partnering with Pentan Architects and SEER Construction to build these eco-homes, we have been able to make affordable, energy-efficient housing a reality for families in Bridgend.
Darrin Davies, our Director of Development & Asset Investment said:
“Not only do we aim to provide homes that are happy and safe for our tenants but we want them to be good for the environment too. We will use what we have learnt from the design and delivery here to help us to develop the specification of our future homes with the aim of delivering high standards of energy efficiency, low carbon footprints and homes that are cheaper to run.”
With an additional £6.9m invested in carrying out planned repairs and improvements to our housing properties, we are supporting our ambition to create safe and desirable homes for our customers.
A transformative year
Back in February, we appointed a new Chief Executive, welcoming Joanne Oak. Speaking at the Annual General Meeting in September, she said:
“This last year can only be described as unprecedented; a word, I think, many of us have been hearing time again. Valleys to Coast has been on and continues to be on a journey and we’ve been focusing a lot on our core business. Like many other businesses, we’ve been impacted by the pandemic. Despite these challenges, I’m really proud of my colleagues and our teams and how they’ve worked extremely hard to do the best under these difficult circumstances. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their understanding and support.”
During the year, Valleys to Coast also welcomed new appointments to it’s Board and Audit Committee following the retirement of long-serving Chair John Kinder. Joanne Smith has joined us as Vice Chair of the Board, and Sophie Taylor as Audit Committee Chair, bringing with them a wealth of experience and understanding of the housing sector.
We’re looking forward to what the next year will bring, but here at Valleys to Coast, we feel it's as important as ever to make sure that we take the time to celebrate everything we’ve achieved in what has been a challenging year for all of us.
We hope the next year will be another year of building a better Wales, supporting our colleagues, and providing homes where our customers can feel happy and safe.
We are asking customers, tenants and communities across Bridgend to help us explore ways we can understand our purpose at Valleys to Coast.
Our purpose is to provide homes where people feel happy and safe. This describes what we are here to do as an organisation and we are keen to build our understanding of the words ‘safe’ and ‘happy’ which were chosen last year by you, our customers.
For taking part and completing a few short questions we will give you the chance to win one of four £50 high street shopping vouchers, just in time for Christmas this year.
You can answer the questions in our short survey here. It will only take a few minutes and we will use the results to help us to set our priorities to ensure all of our customers feel safe and happy.
Chief Executive, Joanne Oak said: “Your opinion and your ideas mean so much to us and we really want to put customers at the heart of setting our vision for the future. This means we will be coming to you more often over the next 6 months to ask questions and I hope you will embrace this opportunity to have your say and help us keep on track with prioritising the right things for both you and your communities.”
If you live in a community where Valleys to Coast has properties, we want to hear from you too. Please complete the survey and tell us if you are a customer or resident
You can view the current corporate plan here. We will use the information gathered from this survey to inform our re-launched corporate plan, which we will release in April next year.
Valleys to Coast housing association are leading on the development of an innovative pan-Wales procurement framework designed to deliver benefits to both current and future generations across the country.
This new framework forms part of an almost £20 million, Welsh Government backed, Optimised Retrofit Programme that will see a consortium of housing associations and Councils work on projects that will help upgrade at least 1,000 existing social homes in Wales through a mixture of new energy efficient materials and technologies.
Open to all housing associations, local authorities and public sector bodies, the new framework will maximise opportunities for businesses across Wales to benefit from this investment and ensure that the funding drives the foundational economy and supports Welsh business and employment opportunities.
There will also be much wider and far-reaching benefits for the Welsh economy. As the programme is rolled out across social housing in Wales over the coming years, it is hoped that this will lead to more local jobs, training and apprenticeship opportunities and supply chains as part of a new industry for the Country.
Speaking about the opportunity, David Bolton, Assets Investment Manager at Valleys to Coast, said: “This is a significant investment from the Welsh Government and a big statement in terms of their focus on reducing carbon emissions and helping the economy recover post-covid. We at Valleys to Coast are very proud to have been asked to lead on the procurement network that will support this. The benefits for customers and communities are potentially huge and this is just the start of creating a new retrofit industry in Wales which is really exciting.”
For Valleys to Coast customers in Bridgend, this will mean an initial investment in around a 100 homes that will benefit from energy improvement works that will help reduce their bills as well as improve energy efficiency measures to the homes such as external wall insulation and new windows. The homes to initially benefit from this will be in the North Cornelly and Wildmill areas of Bridgend and will form part of plans for Valleys to Coast to get as many of their homes to an EPC rating of A by 2030.
Talking about the investment, Darrin Davies, Director of Development & Asset Investment, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us and the partners involved in this consortium to play a big role in making Wales greener. We will learn a lot from this in the coming years and it speaks volumes of the strength of the Welsh housing sector that we are able to work together to tackle this issue and ensure that the advantages of this investment are felt locally.”
Full information on the Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme can be found on the Welsh Government website.
Valleys to Coast’s latest development will be built on Ewenny Road in Bridgend, with works set to commence in February 2021.
Situated on the corner junction with St Marie Street, leading into the town centre, the development will bring much needed, affordable housing to the community, providing homes where people can feel safe and happy.
Previously, the site was home to a motor dealer, Leslie Griffiths Motors. The dealers opened in 1975 and, during their time, were the sponsors for several Welsh motor racing championship events. Most recently, the building was used as a double-glazing store. By restoring this derelict site and bringing it back into use, Valleys to Coast hopes to support our vision of building a better Wales.
The development will consist of seven single-bedroom flats over three storeys and will also include three parking spaces to the rear of the property.
For this project, we are working with Tylux, a Porthcawl-based construction company. Works are estimated to take around a year to complete, with tenants expected to move in around January 2022.
To find out more about the build, take a look at the information pack here.
If you would like to share some history of stories about Ewenny Road, we would love to hear from you. Maybe you bought your first motorbike from Leslie Griffiths motors, or have more information about the history of the site. You can share your stories by contacting us on email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by commenting on our Facebook and Twitter posts about the site and development.
Our latest development in Ffordd yr Eglwys will be built using an innovative system which will make energy efficient housing an affordable reality for people in Bridgend.
By using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), construction can be completed in much quicker times than by using traditional methods. The super lightweight materials are put together mechanically, eliminating wet trades and meaning that houses can be ready for tenants within a number of weeks, while also being built to last.
While using SIPs to build or build onto properties isn’t a new method, it is a first for social housing in Wales, and could offer a potential solution to the housing crisis currently being faced in the UK due to the speed and low cost of construction.
In addition to the affordability and short construction time, these properties will also be energy efficient thanks to the pre-insulated panels as well as solar panels which will be installed, reducing the cost of bills and helping us tackle fuel poverty.
The two-storey development in North Cornelly will consist of four single-bedroom houses. The semi-detached properties each have gardens to the rear and shared parking at the front.
With works to prepare the site for construction having commenced in January, and projected completion by April; the entire development process is expected to last less than 4 months from start to finish.
To find out more about the build, take a look at the information pack here.
Following on from the update on Friday 12th March by the First Minister on the status of the national lockdown, I want to update our customers on the full return of our services.
Given the falling rate of cases of the coronavirus across Wales, and here within the county of Bridgend, and the positive impact that vaccinations is having on controlling the virus, now is the right time for us to resume the services you expect from us.
This means that from Monday 15th March, we will once again be taking and booking appointments for non-urgent and emergency repair requests from customers and while we will still need to follow social distancing rules, you will also see the resumption of our housing services too.
If you already have a repair logged with us, there is no need to call again, we will contact you shortly to book this in. For those of you with new repairs to report, we do ask that you bear with us as we anticipate that our phone lines will be busier than normal and the wait might be longer than usual to get through to our teams.
You can also report new repairs via email at email@example.com providing your name, address, contact number and repair issue. Please provide as much information as possible and photos can be helpful too.
It is important that despite the falling transmission rates that we continue to do all we can to keep both you and our workers safe, so I am appealing to those of you who have repairs booked with us to please follow the guidance around keeping a safe 2 metre distance.
We have pulled together a short video that outlines the 5 Steps we are taking to keep you safe and we ask that you please watch this before we come along to undertake a repair or a home visit. It is vitally important that we all follow the guidelines as we look to slow the spread of the virus.
You can find the video on our Youtube channel.
If you or someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive please contact us as soon as possible to cancel your appointment.
We also understand that there will be some of you who may not feel comfortable with us coming into your home at all at the moment. So we ask if this is the case and you feel that your repair or appointment can wait then please contact us on 0300 123 2100 between the hours of 09:00 and 17:00 and we will cancel your current appointment.
Keeping our customers safe and happy is our main priority and I would like to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding and willingness to follow the safety guidelines as we resume full service.
We are committed to providing the services you expect from us and during this uncertain period we have been working hard behind the scenes to update our corporate plan. As a result of this work and feedback from you in our recent STAR survey, we are placing a review of our repairs journey right at the top of our priorities for this coming year.
This means that you can expect improvements to how this service is run as we aim to move this from a good service to a brilliant one.
We will of course, keep talking with you to get your views on how we are doing and continue to use this to help us shape the service you want.
In the meantime I would just like to thank all of our customers for your patience as we have worked through this difficult period. This has allowed us the time to make the right decisions for both you and our colleagues.
Thank you and stay safe
Joanne Oak - Chief Executive
This Saturday we are asking all Valleys to Coast colleagues and customers to join the worldwide Earth Hour to raise awareness of environmental issues that are impacting our planet.
Nature loss and climate change are accelerating and by turning our lights out this Saturday we can play our part and start a global conversation about the action we can all take.
With colleagues we have already started our own ‘Cut Your Carbon’ campaign at Valleys to Coast, which will look at how we can reduce our environmental impact as a business and we are keen to play our part in Earth Hour and for you to share your lights out pictures and turn your social media feeds dark for an hour from 20:30, and do something a little different.
So here are some ideas of what you could do to make this Earth hour a little special:
More information on Earth Hour and how you can get involved can be found on https://www.earthhour.org/
On Saturday we hope you will all share your Earth Hour activity pictures using the hashtags #EarthHour and #CutYourCarbon to support the campaign and also copy in our social media accounts too so we can share them.
Thank you for getting involved and happy Earth Hour.
Are you interested in climate change and saving energy?
Do you know how much energy your home uses? Are you heating it to the right temperature to get the best for your money?
Check out this exciting new project we are looking for customers to join us in:
Welsh Government has told us that by 2030 we need to ensure all our homes have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of Band A. Together with other housing organisations across Wales we are part of an exciting project learning about what measures we need to put in place to make your home warm, cosy and cheaper to run, but we can’t do this alone, we need your help.
We are looking for customers who would be interested in having an Intelligent Energy System fitted in their home to record their energy use. This data will be used to help us understand how efficient your home is and what measures could be put in place to make it cheaper for you to run, cosier for you to live in, and also to understand what funding we need over the next few years and how we should spend our money to make them as energy efficient as possible.
At the moment the only work involved is the installation of the Intelligent Energy System but we will continue to liaise with you about any other works which we think your home will benefit from.
To get involved...
1- Tell us you’re interested in taking part by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01656 762487
2- We’ll arrange a call with you and the team to talk through the project and answer any questions you have
3- We’ll pop out to do a whole house survey so we know what your home currently has (this should no longer than 2 hours)
4- An intelligent energy system will be installed in your home- this will take about half a day
5- The system will collect energy data for 12 months and we’ll use this to plan how we spend money to improve your home.
We are undertaking this work with SERO Group who are based in South Wales and specialise in making homes more energy efficient. They are working with Welsh Government and Housing Associations like us to help us make sure your homes are ready for the future.
This project does not affect your energy supply; your choice of utility company; any other repairs your home needs and we don’t know all the answers yet as it’s a learning journey for us all.
We can only understand what you and your home needs by undertaking this piece of work.
Valleys to Coast has had funding for these systems to be fitted in 80 homes so don’t miss out, be part of working with us to plan for the future.
ASW Property Services will support and assist our existing trades team and bring apprenticeship and work placement opportunities to Bridgend.
Following 12 months of procurement, Valleys to Coast has awarded our Housing Maintenance subcontract to ASW Property Services. The agreement was signed this month by Joanne Oak, Chief Executive, Valleys to Coast, and Anthony Thomas, Managing Director of ASW Property Services.
The agreement will see ASW supporting our existing trades team to provide reactive, planned and voids maintenance services to homes across Bridgend.
Based in Pyle, ASW Property Services has been providing repairs, maintenance and facilities management services throughout Wales, the Midlands and the South West of England for more than 35 years.
As a result of the partnership, our customers will be able to access a responsive, emergency hotline available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which they can call if they have problems in their homes.
The agreement will allow Valleys to Coast to continue operating within our region and employ members of the community, creating job security for the ASW workforce, 45% of which live within a 10-mile radius of Bridgend, and enable us to invest in even more apprenticeships for local people.
Anthony Thomas, Managing Director at ASW, estimates that in the duration of the partnership, up to 20 apprentices will work on our properties and there will be many opportunities for work experience placements.
Joanne Oak, Chief Executive, Valleys to Coast, said:
“We went through a very comprehensive procurement process and are delighted to have appointed ASW Property Services to provide our customers with a day-to-day responsive repairs service and empty homes repairs management.
“We look forward to building on our strong existing relationship with ASW to deliver a repairs service that makes a positive difference to the lives of our tenants and the communities they live in.”
The ongoing mobilisation process of this contract has been facilitated by Impart Links, who has put structure in place and given guidance.
Check out our new slider to see what it will look like once complete
Our latest development on Maesteg Road in Tondu will bring back into use a site which has remained vacant for several years, transforming the land into desirable homes and bringing much needed affordable housing to this popular area of Bridgend.
Use the slider below to see our new build come to life
The three-storey development will consist of ten single-bedroom flats. There will also be car parking spaces available to the front of the property. There are also plenty of local amenities nearby including a supermarket, petrol station, car wash, and a local pub.
To find out more about the build, take a look at the information pack here.
It was great to talk with residents who came along to the Wildmill Live event and share ideas for improving the open spaces on the estate.
There were lots of fantastic ideas including:
We are starting with exploring how we can make the recycling and refuse points easier to identify and use for all residents, and will share more information soon.
We want to continue talking, so any ideas you have, big or small please share them with us, you can reach us via
01656 762487 or email@example.com
As restrictions ease we will plan how we can safely visit the estate to chat to residents about key areas and ideas. We can then work together to develop these ideas further, including sourcing any funding that might be available and identifying other partners and agencies to work with.
Look out for further information on when we plan to be in the area.
There will be a warm welcome in Bridgend’s North Cornelly this month for some very special feathered summer visitors: Swifts. And it’s hoped by those behind a nesting box initiative (Valleys to Coast, Glamorgan Bird Club and Bridgend Local Nature Partnership), that the birds will establish a permanent summer home and increase in numbers.
On this year's International Day for Biological Diversity, the theme, 'we’re part of the solution', asks us to consider how we can live in harmony with nature and help to prevent biodiversity loss. Valleys to Coast is committed to promoting biodiversity across our estates and recognises how we as an organisation can be a part of the solution by supporting initiatives like this.
Howard Driver (left), and Strinda Davies (right)
Swifts make a remarkable 14,000 mile return trip to the same breeding area every year from Africa around this time, and remain loyal to their partners. But they are in drastic decline due to the loss of traditional nesting sites. Which is why a new partnership was formed to research where to replace lost nesting sites, with six suitably positioned nest boxes now installed on the Marlas Estate.
“Sadly, Swifts are a declining species,” Glamorgan Bird Club Trustee, Strinda Davies, explained. “As a charity committed to the conservation and enjoyment of birds in our area of South Wales, we are delighted to be working with Valleys to Coast for the benefit of these majestic summer migrants.”
The project was the result of diligent monitoring by bird club members, of breeding Swift populations in the communities of Kenfig Hill, Pyle and North Cornelly over the past few years as part of the RSPB UK wide Swift-mapping project.
Photo by Tim Collier
Swifts arriving around this time will depart in August for their wintering grounds in the African Congo. They spend most of their life on the wing, landing only once they enter a nest site. They live for around five years, yet only reach breeding age at three to four years of age.
“Swift numbers are in drastic decline due to the loss of their habitual nest sites,” laments Jess Hartley, Coordinator of Bridgend Local Nature Partnership. “But we are very pleased to be able to financially support this initiative to ensure the nest boxes were installed safely by Glamorgan Bird Club volunteers, using their expertise and specialist knowledge.”
Andy Jones, Community Housing Team Leader with Valleys to Coast, said:
“Being the manager of properties in the Marlas Estate, Valleys to Coast is pleased to support this initiative as part of our commitment to supporting biodiversity, enabling our residents to experience a variety of wildlife on their doorstep.
“This past year has highlighted the importance and benefits of conservation projects like these. And at Valleys to Coast we know that partnerships like these can enable us to achieve even more in our community, creating safe and happy places for people and nature alike. We look forward to future initiatives.”
Work commenced in May on Valleys to Coast’s latest development in Woodland Avenue, on the former site of Woodland Hall.
The development will consist of ten new homes, made up of six two-bedroom houses and four one-bedroom flats. The houses will have allocated parking and the flats will each have a parking space.
The site is situated in an ideal location, with local beaches, the Wilderness Lake, and Porthcawl Medical Centre just around the corner.
The former Woodland Hall, previously used as a base for Porthcawl Scouts, had been in need of some repairs and was suffering from a number of leaks. As part of the development, Valleys to Coast facilitated and relocated the Scouts to new premises at Gilgal Church Hall, which is also on Woodland Avenue. Part of the work involved refurbishing the church hall, including upgrading the heating and boiling systems, replacing window frames, work to the roof, providing signage, and more.
Read more in our information pack here.
Our Finance Team have secured a £35 million loan from bLend Funding PLC, which will act as low-cost funding to refinance expensive existing debt. This will help Valleys to Coast meet its 10 year Corporate Plan objectives by ensuring its financing is sustainable, and its investment in homes and communities maximised.
The lender’s first ever ‘social bond’ will partly be used to pay off old legacy debt currently at a much higher interest rate. This will reduce loan interest payments, increasing funds for the organisation’s development programme which will then be able to deliver more new homes.
Valleys to Coast’s Finance Team is led by Corporate Director of Finance, Governance, Strategy and Performance Claire Marshall, who explained how the 34 year loan with a fixed interest cost of just 2.45% will help maintain the organisation’s strong financial profile whilst achieving its vision to meet the need for truly affordable social housing.
“With Wales emerging from a pandemic, housing associations will become more important to local communities than ever before. Which is why this funding is so vital, as it allows us to continue providing homes and places where our customers feel happy and safe.”
CEO Joanne Oak said the loan was a great achievement by the Finance Team supported by Centrus. “Through strategic partnerships, we have secured long-term sustainable finance to support and deliver our 10 year ambitions laid out in our Corporate Plan. This will allow us to carry on providing a high-quality service wholly dedicated to our customers.”
Paul Stevens, Executive Director and Head of Affordable Housing at Centrus commented how Valleys to Coast had joined an ‘exclusive club’ of Welsh housing associations that have been able to access bLEND.
“It represents an excellent funding outcome, but importantly also provides further external endorsement of the strength and quality of Valleys to Coast. Centrus was delighted to provide independent financial advice and assurance, and the team at Valleys to Coast should be very proud of what has been achieved”.
bLEND’s CEO, Piers Williamson, added how converting bonds into social bonds reinforces the focus on social impact. “It’s great to see the knock on effect on pricing, which enables us to secure a great rate for associations like Valleys to Coast who do such important work for their communities.”
Every year we review the amount of rent you pay, based on inflation and the Welsh Government rent model. This year your new rent charge will apply from Monday 6th April.
During this years’ review we want to take a different approach and consider the average income of households in your area based on statistics published by Welsh Government and the number of bedrooms in your home. This means we will no longer make a blanket increase for all.
For example, areas where household incomes are low may receive a rent freeze compared to areas where household incomes are higher will receive an increase. This method is from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation called ‘the living rent model’.
You may find that your rent is frozen and you will pay the same next year or your rent may increase by up to 2.7% +£2 per week. We’ve included some examples below on what a rent increase could mean for you:
If your current rent is….
Your rent could increase by a MAXIMUM of…
Your MINIMUM new rent could be…
Your MAXIMUM new rent could be…
£80 per week
£4.16 per week
£80 per week
£84.16 per week
£90 per week
£4.43 per week
£90 per week
£94.43 per week
£100 per week
£4.70 per week
£100 per week
£104.70 per week
£110 per week
£4.97 per week
£110 per week
£114.97 per week
Once we have gathered your views on what approach to take, we will then tell you exactly what your rent charge is by the 27th February in preparation for the change in April.
We've drafted these FAQs to help with any questions you may have and will update them when new questions are asked.
Win £100 voucher by simply giving us your views.
We would love to know what you think on this approach to deliver fairer and more affordable rents. Please go to our survey here.
The prize draw will close on Wednesday the 19th February.
We look forward to hearing your feedback.
We have appointed Lisa Griffiths, Jason Evans, Caroline Jones and Sophie Taylor to join us as Board members this week.
The recruitment of these roles was required as Board members; Sarah Hay, Cheryl Tracey and Liam Bevan stepped down from their roles due to other commitments at our Annual General Meeting in September 2019.
Lisa Griffiths is a Fellow of both the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors and currently works in corporate governance and acts as Company Secretary for a number companies within the steel sector.
Jason Evans is a partner at Gambit Corporate Finance, an award winning corporate finance advisory firm based in Cardiff and leads on debt advisory services and the social housing sector for Gambit. He also sits on the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Council for Wales.
Caroline Jones is an Associate Director at Savills as well as a chartered surveyor and RICS registered valuer. She works in the development department advising on property development and regeneration. Caroline has worked closely with the affordable housing sector in Wales, providing valuation and consultancy advice on assets and new build programmes.
Sophie Taylor is a ICAEW qualified chartered accountant who is currently the head of finance at Cardiff and Vale college and is responsible for the day to day management of the finance team, as well as ensuring a strong financial control environment and supporting the organisation through a period of rapid growth and change.
Duncan Forbes, our Chief Executive said: “I am thrilled to be welcoming all four of our new Board members to the team. They all bring a wealth of relevant experience and strong skills to help us continue being a successful organisation. They have strong empathy with our values and are committed to helping our customers live safely and happily in their own homes. I am looking forward to working closely with them all.”
“On behalf of the Board, I would also like to thank Sarah Hay, Cheryl Tracey and Liam Bevan for their significant contribution to Valleys to Coast and invaluable support over the years - we wish them well for the future.”
The redevelopment of 15 modern flats in Bridgend town centre has now been completed and ready to be made into homes.
Theses contemporary flats are located just seconds away from the train station and a minute walk from the shops. They are also at a unique pivot point between Cardiff and Swansea and ideal for those working in Bridgend or travelling for work benefitting from short commute times.
These were made possible through the Homes In Town Grant which is designed to encourage town centre living, tackle vacant space in the town centre and increase the supply of affordable accommodation in key hubs to assist regeneration in the town centre.
We are renting these on an intermediate basis meaning rent will be set below the average market rents.
Darrin Davies, our Director of Development says, “We are always looking for opportunities to work with partners, private landlords and any other interested parties to provide desirable homes for our customers. This is just a start to the regeneration project and support the town centre and businesses to generate wealth, provide jobs, attract investment, improve skills and encourage visitors”.
Huw David, Leader at Bridgend Council commented, “These flats are a great addition to the town centre, I’m positive they will be snapped up in no time. I look forward to seeing the next proposal to help regenerate the heart of Bridgend town centre.”
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Joanne Oak as our new Chief Executive. We will welcome Jo to the team in early May replacing interim Chief Executive; Duncan Forbes, who has been leading the organisation over the last 6 months.
Providing and managing nearly 6,000 homes across Bridgend, our vision is to help build a better Wales. This new recruitment will certainly support us to do this.
Jo is a qualified accountant with over two decades of senior leadership roles across the public and third sectors. She is experienced in leadership, change management, strategic planning, financial management and governance.
She moves from Social Care Wales where she is Director of Strategy and Corporate Services. She has the pivotal role of driving the organisation through growth and transformation working with Welsh Government, sector partners and colleagues. Jo is also currently a Board member of Bron Afon Community Housing and a Trustee for Buildings Communities Trust.
Jo has passion and commitment to make a difference for better outcomes for people of Wales and is delighted to be working for an organisation with strong values and a commitment to raise quality and standards in housing and the wider community.
Commenting on her new role, Jo said, “I’m delighted to be appointed to lead Valleys to Coast at an exciting time, to drive forward the ambition to build new quality homes and deliver excellent services for our customers. I am passionate about making a difference, ensuring everyone has access to a decent home and that we build vibrant communities. I am really looking forward to joining the fantastic Valleys to Coast team, working with customers and partners to ensure we continue to build more homes and support the local community.”
Anthony Whittaker, Chair of the Board of Valleys to Coast said, “We are delighted that Jo will be joining us as our new Chief Executive. We are looking forward to working with her and the rest of the team to deliver our exciting and ambitious plans to support our customers and provide much needed new homes in Bridgend.”
The safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority and we have adapted our services to this situation.
Housing Minister; Julie James has outlined the support that will be given to all social housing tenants in Wales, you can read this here.
Welsh Government have also published guidance outlining the types of financial support that tenants may be able to access, what information you need and where to go to for help and advice. It also explains what emergency help people can access if they have severe financial challenges. You can access the guidance here
To find out which services we are able to offer at the moment please visit our Service Update page.
Valleys to Coast Risk Assessment Statement
At this difficult time, here at Valleys to Coast we are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers, these include;
The coronavirus has led to many people in the UK being unable to work. To help save the UK economy the Government has released a grant scheme to support employers in paying salaries and retaining jobs.
To enable us to keep people safe and to ensure the continued financial viability of Valleys to Coast, we have decided to use the Government Job Retention Scheme our plan is to implement furlough leave for some staff from week commencing 20th April up to 31st May 2020 when the current Government Scheme is due to end.
What does this mean for you?
The safety of you and your households and our staff is and will remain our top priority. We have assessed our workload to ensure we can still deliver key services during this time and the current emergency services we are delivering will not change.
We will still be:
You may find that you try and contact a member of staff who is on furlough. You should get an answerphone message or email reply identifying who to talk to whilst they are not available. If you have any problems contacting an individual please call The Hub on 0300 123 2100 and they will direct you to the right person.
You can still chat to us about your situation and we can talk through how we can support you during this time. We suggest contacting us online:
You can also pay your rent over the phone and online. To make a payment online visit www.v2c.org.uk/my-home/pay and make sure you have your AllPay reference number to hand.
We will review our position regularly and update you when the situation changes.
We have welcomed our new Chief Executive; Joanne Oak to the team today replacing interim Chief Executive; Duncan Forbes, who had been leading the organisation over the last 6 months.
Providing and managing nearly 6,000 homes across Bridgend, our vision is to help build a better Wales and with Joanne on board she will certainly support us to do this.
Jo is a qualified accountant with over two decades of senior leadership roles across the public and third sectors. She is experienced in leadership, change management, strategic planning, financial management and governance.
She moves from Social Care Wales where she was a Director of Strategy and Corporate Services. She has the pivotal role of driving the organisation through growth and transformation working with Welsh Government, sector partners and colleagues. Jo is also currently a Board member of Bron Afon Community Housing and a Trustee for Buildings Communities Trust.
Commenting on her first day, Jo said, “It does feel very strange still sitting in the same room I left on Friday whilst working for Social Care Wales and arrive Monday morning working for Valleys to Coast but I am absolutely delighted to have officially started. I am fully equipped to work from home and have been warmly welcomed by everyone I have managed to meet so far and look forward to settling in while supporting the organisation through this time.”
Due to current Coronavirus pandemic we are only able to deliver essential services.
However we are busy planning how we can reintroduce services when Welsh Government advise it is safe to do so and how we can ensure you feel safe in your home.
We would like to do this together with our customers and communities.
Please help us by completing the following survey with your views:
We have received reports that some of our customers and suppliers have received suspicious emails. These appear to be in response to emails sent previously to Valleys to Coast by customers and suppliers. These replies have ‘from’ addresses from a variety of UK companies.
We understand the emails include a message asking you to click to download a file.
These emails are not from Valleys to Coast or anyone connected to Valleys to Coast. If you receive one, please do not click on the link.
We are investigating this matter as a priority and will provide an update as soon as we have further information.
If you think you may have received one of these emails, please contact us on 0300 123 2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on cyber security and tips for online safety, please visit the South Wales Police website: https://www.south-wales.police.uk/en/advice/online-safety/
Please note: During the 17 day 'fire-break' period from Friday 23rd October at 18:00 until the start of Monday 9th November, we will be operating amended service. For more information, read our latest update.
We are currently in the process of re-introducing services and a letter from our Chief Executive, Joanne Oak has been issued to all customers to outline the timescales for this.
A statement from Joanne on the impact that recent local lock-down will have on how we operate these services is also available for on the news section of this website
We will only re-introduce a service when it is safe to do so. The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is the most important thing.
We have produced a short video which outlines the 5 steps we will take should we need to come into your home
To make it easy to understand which services are available we will use a traffic light system inline with Welsh Government’s guidance.
Our traffic light system means:
Red: The service is unavailable
Amber: We can provide part of the service
Green: We can provide the full service - this may look different to our ‘normal’ service
A full list of list of what qualifies as an emergency repair can be found here
Our office on Tremains Road is closed to the public.
External repairs and work
We will carry out external repair work that is outstanding from before or during lockdown. Customers who are affected will be contacted, there is no need to contact us.
Our Customer Service Hub will continue to book emergency repairs only when you contact us during this time.
Internal repairs and work
Our repairs team will contact you to arrange appointments for any outstanding internal or External repairs from before and during lockdown. Customers who are affected will be contacted, there is no need to contact us.
Home appointments / face-to-face visits
Appointment in your homes will begin to be agreed if other virtual means are not suitable.
We are currently unable to visit our schemes everyday and will not be able to meet with customers but you can contact us over the phone.
You can contact us via phone, social media or web chat.
Paying your rent
You can pay your rent by calling us or online if you are registered with AllPay: http://www.v2c.org.uk/my-home/pay. You can contact us by phone, email or text for support with your rent.
Reporting New Repairs
Our Customer Service Hub can arrange any new repairs for you.
We are continuing to build new homes around the borough but some site visits may be restricted.
Our Money Matters team can offer you money advice and support over the phone, by email or video call.
We will continue to provide health & safety checks across our estates and schemes.
You may see us out and about grass cutting and litter picking around our communities.
You will see our caretakers on our estates.
We will continue to call and check customers' well-being, if needed.
We will continue to respond to emergency repair requests in your home to ensure we keep your home safe.
Gas and electrical checks
We will continue to carry out an annual service to your gas boiler and testing of the electrical circuits around your home to ensure your home remains safe.
Our empty homes
We are working normally in our empty properties.
We are now letting properties as normal, working with Bridgend Council to let homes as and when they become available. We are also advertising properties on HomeHunt.
Swapping homes with another tenant
We are allowing people to swap homes.
We will continually listen to your feedback, assess the situation and will keep you updated regularly as services change. This page will be updated regularly, alternatively follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to receive updates from us.
Last month we received reports that some of our customers and suppliers had received emails with content that appeared to be from Valleys to Coast but were not sent from our email address.
As soon as we became aware of this matter, we immediately took action, investigating the matter using a team of independent experts. Their work has now been completed and the conclusion is that there is no evidence to suggest that our internal network was accessed, and it is highly unlikely that any data has been removed.
As customers and suppliers you don't need to do anything, but we ask that should you be unsure about any emails you receive requesting personal or business data, you seek advice before responding.
For more information on what to look for and tips to stay safe online, please visit the South Wales Police website: https://www.south-wales.police.uk/en/advice/online-safety/
Last week saw the first Valleys to Coast tenants move into four brand new low-carbon homes whose innovative design won the Grand Designs’ Self-Build on a Shoestring competition.
Valleys to Coast partnered with Pentan Architects, who designed the concept, to deliver the new ‘Barnhaus’ properties in North Cornelly in Bridgend, having been awarded the funding to help build them as part of the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme.
Constructed with a combination of steel and timber frames which can be erected in a single day, the new ‘Ski-lodge-style’ properties also use straw bales and recycled materials for insulation, as well as using roof-mounted solar panels to reduce electrical usage. Valleys to Coast commissioned Pentan Architects to design a pilot Barnhaus development back in 2014 with the aim of making the concept a reality for social housing tenants in North Cornelly. Built on the site of former garages, the project explored the idea of building more energy efficient new homes in a quicker time frame and for less money than a traditional house build.
These modern two-bedroom homes welcomed their first tenants on the 5th August, among them was mother-of-two, Chloe Devereux, who said: “It has been a bit of a wait because of Covid-19, but we are so pleased to finally be moving into this lovely home, it's a dream come true for me and my twin boys are going to love living here too”.
As part of the pilot, Valleys to Coast will be working with Cardiff University and the Welsh Government to monitor the energy efficiency of the properties with sensors installed in each of the four homes. With an EPC rating of A+ they are expected to not only provide lasting warmth and comfort to residents but also to help offer some solutions to help tackle fuel poverty within the social housing sector too.
Darrin Davies, Director of Development & Asset Investment at Valleys to Coast said:
“We are so pleased to have worked with Pentan Architects and SEER Construction and added these innovative homes to our stock here in Bridgend. Not only do we aim to provide homes that are happy and safe for our tenants but we want them to be good for the environment too. We will use what we have learnt from the design and delivery here to help us to develop the specification of our future homes with the aim of delivering high standards of energy efficiency, low carbon footprints and homes that are cheaper to run.”
Valleys to Coast would also like to thank Bridgend County Borough Council and the Welsh Government for supporting them to deliver these new homes in Bridgend.
With long-serving Chair John Kinder set to announce his retirement at this year's Annual General Meeting, Valleys to Coast have moved quickly to make two new appointments to both its Board and Audit Committee.
Joanne Smith will come in as Vice Chair of the Board and Sophie Taylor will take up the role of Audit Committee Chair when John retires from both roles in December, with both bringing a wealth of experience from the housing sector and beyond.
Incoming Vice Chair, Joanne Smith has a strong understanding of the housing sector and Valleys to Coast itself, having been involved with the organisation for six years initially as their regulation manager and for the last 4 years as a member of the Board. Jo is currently the Governance and Regulation Manager at Coastal Housing Group.
Sophie Taylor too has significant experience of housing, having started her career at PwC, her first role in Housing saw her join the Finance team at Trivallis before becoming Head of Finance at Cardiff and Vale College in 2017. Sophie’s latest role saw her finding her way back to the sector earlier this year when appointed as Head of Finance and Procurement at Bron Afon Housing Association.
Speaking of her appointment as the Audit Committee Chair, Sophie said: “I am really excited to take this new role. Housing is a sector that I am really passionate about, and becoming a Board member earlier this year has allowed me to broaden my knowledge of the sector and the challenges they are facing. Valleys to Coast is at an exciting time in their corporate journey, with a new Chief Executive and ambitious plans; I hope that my previous audit and assurance experience can help to support them on this journey and provide the robust governance that all organisations will need during these challenging times.”
Reflecting on his forthcoming retirement, John Kinder said: “I have found my six years at Valleys to Coast to be interesting, challenging and enjoyable. I have been pleased to see the development of the organisation from one focussed on refurbishing properties to one which is now concentrating on improving its overall service to customers.
In the future I see Valleys to Coast continuing to build more social housing and helping to reduce homelessness in Bridgend. I hope this along with a focus on improving our core services to customers will see them and others regard us as one of the premier social housing organisations in Wales.”
All at Valleys to Coast are keen to thank John Kinder for his sterling efforts in his six years at the organisation. John’s retirement will be announced as part of this year's Valleys to Coast Annual General meeting which will be held entirely online for the first time on the 23rd September.
The Welsh Government has today (Monday 21st September) placed Bridgend and three other Counties under local lockdown from 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday 22nd September) due to the significant rise in coronavirus cases.
This has led to increased restrictions such as the mandatory use of face coverings in all indoor spaces and where social distancing can't be maintained; only being able to meet outdoors for the time being and that people living in the County must work from home unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
After reviewing this and the current Government guidance we have decided that it does not affect our current offer of services as all colleagues will be following safe working practices that are in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Having planned for this, we are confident that we can continue with the re-introduction of services such as repairs while adhering to the Welsh Government guidelines around working in your homes.
Our priority is the safety of both our customer and colleagues, we will keep the new measures under regular review and monitor the situation regularly. We will update you immediately with any changes, both by letter and via our social media channels.
Today we issued a letter to our customers that sets out our approach for this and a timeline for these services to resume. This letter emphasises the importance of asking ourselves the same COVID19 questions we will ask customers when making an appointment. This ensures we are only in work visiting your homes if we are symptom free and safe to do so.
If you are due a repair or a visit from us and you or any member of your household exhibit symptoms please let us know as soon as possible so we can make alternate arrangements.
In the meantime, please stay safe and check our website and social channels for any updates to our services
Last week saw Valleys to Coast take our Annual General Meeting online for the first time in our history
Having to find a new way of hosting the meeting due to the current restrictions in place as a result of the Coronavirus, our Governance and Communications teams worked together to ensure the meeting took place online instead.
Speaking following the meeting, our Chief Executive, Joanne Oak said “I am so pleased that our teams were able to make this happen. Adjusting to new ways of working presents new challenges but we ensured this key meeting took place and are going to take the learning from this into how we might engage with customers more effectively online too.”
Held on Wednesday September 23rd, this year's AGM featured a virtual question and answer session with questions submitted by Valleys to Coast customers via an online form.
We have committed to responding individually to those customer queries via email but we also were able to answer them within the session too.
A full video recording of the Annual General Meeting can be found online via our Youtube Channel and embedded below.
If you would like to skip straight you the Question and Answer session you can do so by skipping to around 15 minutes in.
Following the announcement earlier this week by the First Minister that we will be entering a national lockdown, or ‘fire-break’ as he has called it, we are keen to update you on the impact that will have on our services.
The 17-day lockdown period will start from Friday 23rd October at 18:00 until the start of Monday 9th November. During this time a series of rules will be in place to slow the infection rate of the coronavirus.
Within these rules the Welsh Government has asked housing associations to only conduct urgent and emergency repairs and home visits during these 17 days.
This means that:
If you have an appointment booked that we now feel is non-urgent and can wait until after the fire-break, we will contact you shortly to arrange an alternate slot.
Also if you don't feel comfortable with us entering your home during this period and feel that your repair or appointment can wait until after the 9th November, please contact us on 0300 123 2100 between the hours of 09:00 and 17:00 and we will work with you to arrange another appointment.
We would like to thank you in advance for your understanding as we look to work within the spirit of the fire-break and follow the First Minister’s message to play our part in helping slow the rate of infection.
Any action we take now will help us greatly as we get closer to the winter months and the Christmas season and our priority is to ensure that we keep you and your homes happy and safe.
Finally I just want to thank you all for your cooperation, as we adapt and respond to the latest advice. The preparation has meant that we can continue with most our services in a safe way and I know that will mean a lot to you and your communities who rely on the important services we deliver.
Joanne Oak - Chief Executive
Valleys to Coast has proved again its continued commitment to becoming a more sustainable business with the achievement of the Green Dragon Environmental standard at level 3 for the second year running.
The Green Dragon Environmental Standard is awarded to organisations that can demonstrate effective environmental management and that are taking action to understand, monitor and control their impacts on the environment.
During the last year, Valleys to Coast has ensured that 91% of all materials that have come off-site from repairs and maintenance have been saved from landfill and been recycled and in total the organisation has recycled 538 tonnes of waste. This along with a reduction in carbon emissions has led to retaining the standard.
Speaking about the Green Dragon accreditation, Valleys to Coast Health and Safety Officer, Joshua Preece said:
“We are very pleased to have retained the level 3 standard in what has been a tough year with the pandemic. Going forward we want to look at new ways that we can decrease our carbon emissions as a business, both within offices and home-working environments and, of course, our customers' homes.
Plans for the organisation to improve their year-on-year improvement include looking at the positive impact on carbon emissions resulting from home working, introducing more energy efficient lighting at properties, better planning of tradesperson travel and looking at ways to improve energy efficiency of older buildings and homes.
Talking about future plans to improve the businesses’ environmental impact, Darrin Davies, Director of Development & Asset Investment, added: “This year has forced us to think differently as a business. We now want to make the most of this shift and we will start by asking staff to share their ideas with us for reducing our carbon footprint. Hopefully we will continue to improve and work our way towards the next level and become an even more sustainable business.”
You can find out more about the Green Dragon Environmental Standard by visiting the Green Business Centre website.
Over £1,000 raised for new staff charity, The Wallich
Valleys to Coast staff have nominated Welsh homelessness charity, The Wallich, as its charity of the year and have kick-started the partnership by raising over £1,000 to help support their projects in the first week.
The Wallich is a Welsh homelessness charity that operates to get people off the streets; keep people off the streets; and create opportunities for people. Running more than 70 diverse projects, across 19 local authorities, The Wallich works with more than 9,000 people experiencing homelessness each year across Wales and was nominated alongside 2 other charities to be approved as charity of the year.
Valleys to Coast staff were told that the Wallich had been selected at their Colleague Conference in September, where it was also announced that the partnership would stay in place for 18 months until March 2022.
Speaking about the partnership, Valleys to Coast Chief Executive, Joanne Oak said:
“We are very delighted to be starting this partnership with the Wallich and we hope that this can become more than just fundraising for us. There is a lot for us to learn from them as we look to tackle homelessness here in Bridgend and much we can learn from each other in many other ways too. I am really excited about the next 18 months.
Following the announcement at the conference, Valleys to Coast staff were immediately issued a challenge to walk 1,000 miles that week to raise money for the charity. In response the #walk4thewallich challenge saw 874 miles logged and a total of £1,064 raised during the first week, which represents a great start to fundraising.
Talking about this new relationship with Valleys to Coast, Chief Executive of The Wallich, Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, added: “We were absolutely thrilled to get the message that we had been chosen as Valleys to Coast’s charity of the year. The synergy of a homelessness charity and a successful housing association coming together to support each other is not lost on anyone here, and we are really excited to see what we can achieve together.”
Also announced at the Conference was that Valleys to Coast’s IT Director, Polly Thompson, will be joining the Board of The Wallich and that leadership from both organisations will work together to mutually build knowledge of how they can work together to tackle homelessness across Bridgend.
You can find out more about The Wallich and their work to end homelessness across Wales by visiting their website at www.thewallich.com
If you would like to follow the action from the Walk for the Wallich challenge, visit the hashtag #walk4thewallich on Twitter.
Last year we asked your opinion on the way we set our rent charges and the new approach we were looking to adopt. What you told us influenced the way we set rent charges; using the ‘Living rent’ model we based the increase on the average income for residents across Bridgend County Borough. You told us this would be a fair way to set the rent across our homes.
Following on from this we are busy starting to look at rent charges for April 2021 and will be taking the same fair approach. To help us with our discussions we’d really like to hear what you think about the amount you pay and what you expect from our services.
Please follow the link to complete a short survey and share your views: https://bit.ly/35wp5KA
Thank you. We look forward to hearing your views.
The Welsh Business Awards aim to recognise the very best from businesses across Wales. These awards celebrate success, excellence in best practice and the contribution Welsh businesses make to the wider community and we’re finalists!
The award we have been shortlisted for is our ‘Commitment to Customer Services’ where we demonstrated the great work we’ve been carrying out with our Building Excellent Service Together (BEST) programme.
We created a Customer Insight strategy to gain knowledge about our customers and use this to understand the key drivers behind our customer satisfaction.
The event, hosted by Welsh television presenter Gethin Jones, will honour all finalists and celebrate your success.
Paul Ryall-Friend, our Chief Operating Officer said, “We are thrilled to be a finalist at this year's Welsh Business Awards especially being recognised witht the great work we’ve done to ensure we’re truly putting customers at the heart. Fingers crossed for us on the night”.
Ty Hafan, which supports families caring for a seriously ill child, was selected as Charity of the Year by us for 2018 and has raised in total £4,566.23.
We committed all our sports and social events throughout the year to raising money for the charity through bake-offs, dress down days, Christmas card donations and their Chief Executive, Donna Baddeley trekked the Sahara desert raising nearly £2000 alone.
Howard Merrett, Chair of our sports and social team said; “It's amazing what we can achieve when we pool all our efforts together. Colleagues nominated Ty Hafan as their chosen charity as they recognise what great work they do, and without their support families would have to struggle to do this alone. We’re working on our Sports and Social calendar for this year and hope to achieve even more money for our chosen charity next year.”
Ty Hafan offers comfort, care and support to life-limited children, young people and their families in the hospice, in the community and in their home so they can make the most of the time they have left together.
Sara Webber, associate director at Tŷ Hafan, said: “It costs over £4million each year to run our hospice, delivering our broad community programmes and providing round the clock specialist care 365 days a year. But we simply couldn’t provide our lifeline services to the families that need them so much without the fabulous fundraising efforts of people like those from Valleys To Coast. Thank you for kindness and generosity”.
Whatever your circumstances; out of work, in between jobs or simply looking for a change?
We have an exciting new 41/2 day work experience opportunity, on Monday 18th to Friday 22nd February 2019!
Limited places available so don’t miss out... it’s easy, just ring us or email to find out more!
This is your chance to:
So, what are you waiting for?
If you are interested and/or have any queries, give Dennise or Marie a call on 0300 123 2100 or email email@example.com
We've scooped the Commitment to Customer Service award in the Welsh Business Awards 2018.
We've been recognised for new initiatives that have been implemented over the last year to improve the service customers receive.
These changes have included new and easier ways to pay rent, changes to the way we carry out repairs, improved communication and the introduction of new tools for staff enabling them to provide a better service to customers really putting customers at the heart of everything we do.
The Welsh Business Awards recognise the very best from businesses across Wales. The awards celebrate success, excellence in best practice and the contribution Welsh businesses make to the wider community.
Paul Ryall-Friend, our Chief Operating Officer said “We are absolutely thrilled to have won this award. Understanding what is important to our customers and then using this insight to change the way we work is key to putting our customers at the heart of what we do. There’s lots more work to do, but this award recognises we’re on the right track to deliver even better customer service throughout the next year.”
We're very proud to announce Y Bont as our chosen charity of the year for 2019.
Y BONT is a purpose built family centre situated on Ewenny Rd in Bridgend. They're a unique service that aims to provide care to young disabled children and support to their families. This is achieved through high quality, play, support and medical services. They also offer advice, support and information regarding issues relevant to disabled children and their families and to signpost to other like minded agencies.
Colleagues were asked to nominate a chosen charity, which colleagues then vote on who that is, this year Howard Merrett, the income team leader suggested Y Bont and said “I think Y Bont deserves our support this year as their such a great charity, doing great things to help the local community and which will also benefit some of our customers directly. We look forward to working with them closely over the next year and raising a huge amount of money.”
A huge thank you to Countrywide Grounds Maintenance for kick starting our fundraising efforts by donating us 4 tickets to the Wales v England rugby game. We were able to raise over £500 alone from these by asking colleagues to donate by silent bid.
We have partnered up with The Dogs Trust to hold free community events for dogs and their owners in Sarn Life Centre.
There was an event on Friday 29th March and three more events planned for 24 May, 21 June and 23 August between 11am - 3pm.
These events will hopefully help combat issues such as dog fouling while building relationships with the community and promoting good dog ownership & well being.
At the events a veterinary nurse will carry out a basic health check, which includes examining eyes, ears, teeth and weight, to make sure your dog is happy, fit and healthy.
Alongside the health check, The Dogs Trust will provide advice on diet, training and neutering. They also offer free micro chipping (a legal requirement as of April 2016) and advise you how to change your details if you’ve moved address or changed your phone number.
There is no appointment required and will be operating on a drop in basis so be sure to come along with your dog and say hello, but please keep your dog on a lead when attending our community events.
Puppies under 6 months old must be fully vaccinated and proof of vaccinations brought along to the event. If your puppy has recently been vaccinated, they must be carried for the 10 days following their final vaccination. Dogs over 6 months old do not require proof of vaccination.
Andy Jones, our Housing Team Leader said “It’s great to have the opportunity to work closer with The Dogs Trust and bring this great service to the local community. We recognise the important role pets play in the wellbeing of our customers lives and hope this opportunity will help us all continue to build relationships working together’
It is important that you report your rent increase through your online Universal Credit account so that the amount of Universal Credit you receive is correct.
This can be done by logging into your Universal Credit account, clicking ‘report a change’ and then selecting ‘change to your Housing Costs’.
You will then be asked to enter the number of bedrooms in your property followed by your rent and service charge breakdown for 2019/20. Remember that both the rent and service charges need to be put in separately.
If you need to know what these are or have any questions regarding this process please contact the Money Matters team on 01656 762582.
Interested in a career in law? Then we want to hear from you!
Blake Morgan’s Work Placement Scheme - Monday 22 July to Friday 26 July 2019
This is a unique scheme that gives you the chance to spend a week at their Cardiff Office, gain vital experience and learn more about the world of business.
It will be chance for you to:
get tips on interview techniques and completing application forms from the experts.
Limited places available, so if you are interested please get in touch today for a chat.
Call Marie Kiff on 01656 762487 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Bridgend County Borough’s flagship awards programme, ‘The Bridgend Business Forum Awards 2019’ are back and are even bigger and better than before!
Sponsors of this year’s awards, came together at the Coed-y-Mwstwr Hotel, Coychurch recently to officially launch the awards.
Organised by Bridgend Business Forum and supported by Bridgend County Borough Council, these prestigious awards recognise and reward excellence across all sizes and sectors of business in the county borough.
Entries are now open for the following ten categories:
The winning business in each category will have the chance to earn the coveted title of ‘Bridgend Business of the Year 2019’, sponsored by Valleys to Coast Housing.
Jay Ball, Vice-chair of the Bridgend Business Forum, said: “We’re excited to launch our 2019 Bridgend Business Forum Awards! Now in its seventh, successful year, the ethos of the awards is to continue to showcase excellence in business on a local level.
“Whether you are a public, private or third sector organisation, a new start-up or established business, these awards provide a fantastic opportunity to showcase your business, and celebrate your many achievements.
“As a previous winner, I’ve experienced first-hand, the success from the PR, the story and the recognition that an award gives you. Our 2019 awards also feature a brand new category; the ‘Health and Safety Award’ which recognises the hard work of businesses in complying with all health and safety procedures within the workplace.
“Now, with ten categories to enter, these awards are bigger than ever! So what are you waiting for, get your applications in today!”
Our Chief Executive, Donna Baddley, said: “We are proud and delighted to be the main sponsor of the 2019 Bridgend Business Forum Awards.
“Because we are a community-based organisation, we really believe in supporting our local area. These awards represent the best in business and people across the Bridgend County Borough - from all sectors, at all levels. The awards celebrate and reward their efforts and successes and Valleys to Coast is extremely proud to support them.
“We would like to encourage all businesses to enter, the application process is simple, but the rewards and profile for your business is exemplary!”
Full details of the awards including application forms and advice and tips on how to submit an entry, can be found at www.bridgendbusinessforum.co.uk. Entries close at 5 July 2019.
You can also follow @BridgendForum on Twitter or like ‘Bridgend Business Forum’ on Facebook for news and updates on the awards.
Julie James AM, Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government, visited Bridgend to see first-hand how we, in partnership with Wernick, are delivering social housing to the area.
Julie attended one of the two sites in Bridgend where modular homes are nearing completion. Huw Irranca-Davies, Assembly Member for Ogmore - also in attendance - later discussed the visit and the project’s potential at a Welsh Assembly Business meeting.
£35m of funding for innovative housing in Wales was announced by Julie James AM in February 2019. Support from the ‘Innovative Housing Programme’ is available to housing associations, councils and other organisations.
Innovation developed through the programme will help to inform how homes are built in Wales in the future. The project will also contribute to the 20,000 affordable homes target set by Welsh Government.
Modules for the eight new homes were manufactured at Wernick Buildings, Kenfig before being combined on site to form a complete house. Production took as little as three weeks and modules arrived on site with appliances, heating and electrics pre-fitted.
Once complete, brick cladding and trussed roofs will render the new homes indistinguishable from their traditionally constructed counterparts.
Julie James AM said: “Our £90m Innovative Housing Programme is a test bed for innovation in housing, and demonstrates our ambition to provide more, better quality homes for people while creating jobs and training opportunities in their communities too.”
Ben Wernick, Managing Director of Wernick Buildings added: “This project is a great demonstration of the benefits of offsite construction. Residents will be able to enjoy high quality, high-performance homes, with the added benefit of a reduced construction programme.”
We will helping the local authority and the wider community within Bridgend to support the workers at the Ford factory. We intend to maximise our impact, by seeking out and collaborating with partners across all sectors thereby working with different types of organisations and agencies.
We are currently supporting the Job Centre who have instigated their rapid response team, that helps deal with large scale redundancies such as those being experienced at Ford, and in doing so have assigned a member of the team to Ford on a permanent basis.
We’re also working closely with Bridgend Council on housing and housing related support initiatives together with seeking out short and long term approaches to redeveloping the town centre; which will help towards the wider effects on the local economy.
We have committed to be present at all planned support events at the plant and are ready to find more creative ways to provide better results for our customers and the community.
We are also offering those affected, the opportunity to visit our office at Nolton Court, Nolton Street every Tuesday between 10 – 4pm where our team is available to help anyone having difficulty keeping up with their payments. We will also be offering advice on how to manage money, and helping people to apply for benefits that they may be entitled to.
Donna Baddeley, our Chief Executive commented, “We are committed to contributing to the local economy and community infrastructure. As the largest landlord and one of the largest employers in Bridgend we understand the importance of being ambitious for our customers and communities and we will unreservedly promote the local area in order to attract investment, build confidence, create opportunities and produce long lasting outcomes for the region. We’ll do all that we can; we want everyone to succeed.”
Our Chief Executive; Donna Baddeley joined the Wallich team to deliver humanitarian aid, support and advice to people that are sleeping rough or are vulnerably housed within Bridgend.
An early morning breakfast run saw experienced staff support those in need by providing them with breakfast, hot drinks, sleeping bags, warm clothing and toiletries.
The team offer a wide range of advice and signpost them to access the most appropriate, relevant and often specialist services, these include housing advice, benefit advice and referrals to supported accommodation, healthcare and substance misuse centres.
The drop-in centre is located at 10 Park Street and provides a safe environment off the street. There is access to a dedicated solutions worker, washing machine, dryer, shower, clothes bank, telephone, computer, help to complete forms, and applications for them to use.
Donna commented: “As more and more funding is withdrawn from public services, the pressure to fill the gaps for the most vulnerable in society increasingly falls on our shoulders. In order to maximise our impact, we are keen to seek out and collaborate with partners across all sectors. Thank you to the Wallich for letting me help alongside their rough sleepers intervention team this morning, it was great to see the amazing work that their doing.”
If you are concerned about someone you have seen sleeping rough, you can use the StreetLink app or website to send an alert: www.streetlink.org.uk The details you provide are sent to the local authority or outreach support who will look to find the individual and connect them to support.
Like all housing associations, we are an increasingly complex business.
Our Board members give a lot of time and energy to make sure we achieve a balance of providing new homes and maintaining the homes we have; while meeting our social purpose and supporting the community in which we work.
To show we value the input from our Board members and hold them to account we are proposing to pay them a small annual fee. This contribution will be paid in line with the same payments other housing associations in Wales are implementing.
We would appreciate your feedback on this proposal by putting forward any questions, concerns or suggestions for consideration.
Please contact Diane Slater, our Governance Team Leader for more information or if you’d like to become a Board member then let us know.
01656 762489 Diane.Slater@v2c.org.uk F:ValleystoCoast T:@ValleystoCoast
After two very busy years as our Chief Executive, Donna Baddeley has decided to move on from Valleys to Coast.
In the short-term. Anthony Whittaker, our Board Chair, has appointed an interim Chief Executive. Duncan Forbes will start at Valleys to Coast Tuesday 10th September as a highly experienced interim.
We thank Donna for the many positive initiatives she has introduced at Valleys to Coast and we wish her well.
We invited our customers into our offices during October to experience what it is like to work in some of our 200 job roles.
A key driver is to put our customers at the heart and to celebrate National Customer Service Week we have invited customers into our organisation to find out first-hand what it is like to work in some of our front line services such as our housing management team, our repairs team, our communications team and much more.
The previous work experience opportunity was so successful that this is the second time we have asked customers back after receiving feedback that it has helped residents in Bridgend decide their next steps into work.
The week will help our customers learn transferable skills, build resilience and become a steppingstone into an area of work that they didn’t know existed. Customers will have the opportunity to spend time in a range of departments to see the wide selection of job roles available.
We are also supporting the launch of This is Housing, a campaign to showcase what it’s really like to work in the housing sector and encourage more people to apply for jobs to help them achieve their vision of building 75,000 new homes by 2036.
Housing associations don’t just provide homes to those who find themselves sleeping rough or are homeless, but they offer support to families on low incomes, the elderly and those fleeing domestic abuse. 65% of people working in the sector enjoy their jobs because they are making a real difference to these people’s lives. They offer opportunities for progression and skills development, last year over £3.6 million was spent on staff training and professional development.
Phillipa Knowles, Director of Resources at Community Housing Cymru, the umbrella body for housing associations in Wales said, “Social housing has a key role to play in shaping the future of Wales; the sector provides good quality affordable homes and support to communities. We have a vision to make good housing a basic right for all and we’re aiming to build 75,000 new homes by 2036. To do this, we need the right people with the right skills so we can build the homes and communities that Wales needs. In return housing associations aim to create over 15,000 new jobs to help achieve this vision.”
If you or anyone you know are interested in working for a housing association, visit www.thisishousing.wales.
We want to help ensure that our homes and communities are safe and enjoyable places for everyone.
We know that many people enjoy holding bonfires at this time of year, but not everyone shares that enjoyment. The building and setting of bonfires can cause distress to some other local residents, a risk to animal welfare, and a health and safety risk either from the fire itself or from the burning of materials that are hazardous when burnt.
We do not approve of any bonfires being held on our land.
If we become aware of bonfires being built on our land, we treat this in the same way as illegal fly-tipping. This means we may remove materials we consider to be particularly harmful or dangerous, providing it is safe for us to do so. We are unable to remove all materials immediately and will make plans for the clearance of the site at some point in the future.
If you wish to discuss this in any more detail, please speak to Clive Thomas, our Estates Officer on:
0300 123 2100
We are looking to recruit 20 new candidates to fill the job vacancies we have available in Bridgend.
Having a home is a basic right for everybody and we’re looking for the right candidates to ensure customers are put at the heart of what we do in desirable homes and as part of thriving communities.
The roles they have available range from the Chief Executive, Director of Housing, Board Members, Administration Assistants and much much more.
Paul Ryall-Friend, our Deputy Chief Executive commented, “You will be joining us during a very exciting programme of change and will contribute to strengthening our foundations to continue to be a successful organisation. We have some great opportunities for the right people to work in the right roles and I would encourage anyone who is interested to apply.”
Job vacancies will be published on our website every Monday and advertised through social media channels. Visit our website for more details; www.v2c.org.uk/Careers
Bill Daniels began volunteering with Mirus in May 2018 at their allotment in Brackla, Bridgend. He immediately took on the role of mentoring which resulted in some great relationships which developed over their love of the allotment. They set about transforming the allotment over the next few months, growing herbs, vegetables and flowers.
Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations (BAVO) recognised and celebrated the great volunteering that is happening across the local area at their annual Voluneer Achievement Awards and Bill Daniels successfully won the Befriending and mentoring award.
Volunteers deliver services in the heart of our local communities. They make it easier for people to get the support they need and also improve other people’s wellbeing. They make a real difference to charities and ultimately to people’s lives and BAVO were delighted to be able to recognise their hard work and achievements.
As sponsors of the Befriending and Mentoring Award; our Chief Operating Officer, Paul Ryall-Friend said: “It’s always a privilege to support these awards. Bill is a great guy and even those he mentors call him a legend, a true legend. It’s clear that he truly puts his customers at the heart of what he does by mentoring them around their work commitment and when it is suitable to them. We want to support Bridgend to have thriving communities and think Bill is doing a great job in helping to do this.”
Volunteering can be exciting, challenging and rewarding. Groups rely on volunteers and you can make a BIG difference to your community! Have a look at local opportunities at Bridgend.volunteering-wales.net or drop by our Volunteer Centre in Queen Street in Bridgend town Centre. For further details call BAVO, T: 01656 810400.
We’ve teamed up with Bridgend College to deliver free family focused hobby and leisure courses for five of our customers.
This is an excellent opportunity to learn a new hobby, upskill yourself or start learning something new. They have the programme for you.
There are 72 short courses to choose from, lasting no more than 10 weeks and involve support and designed to help you to gain confidence, make new friendships and achieve an accredited qualification in the subject of your choice.
A recent learner commented "I am just about to finish the guitar 10 week course which runs on a Monday evening has been great and I have surprised myself with how much I have already learnt."
Duncan Forbes, Chief Executive at Valleys to Coast commented, “Having a home and access to education should be a basic right for everyone, we’re so please to be working closely with the college to offer opportunities such as these. We want to find more creative ways to provide better results for our customers and our communities by piloting different approaches and combining our efforts and resources for the greater good.”
So what are you waiting for? Apply today: www1.bridgend.ac.uk/community-college/
We have completed the construction of eight semi-detached homes in partnership with Wernick Buildings.
The modular units, which had appliances such as heating and electrics pre-fitted in their factory in Kenfig Hill and later delivered to site were ready for families to move in this week.
The method has been designed to reduce the time spent on a site and also the need for multiple trades commuting on a daily basis, reducing costs, environmental impact and also disruption to the neighboring community.
Funding for these homes was made available through Welsh Governments Innovative Housing Programme which aims to help inform the Welsh Government, Housing Associations and Local Authorities about the type of homes it should support in the future.
The project will contribute to the 20,000 affordable homes target set by Welsh Government.
Julie James, Welsh Housing Minister said: “Our £90m Innovative Housing Programme is a test bed for innovation in housing, and demonstrates our ambition to provide more, better quality homes for people while creating jobs and training opportunities in their communities too.”
Darrin Davies, Director of Development and Asset Investment at Valleys to Coast added: “Putting customers at the heart is key to what we do and building desirable homes where energy bills are low and are energy efficient is what we believe will be best for the future. We hope customers can benefit from these additional benefits and live in a home where they feel happy and safe.”
A recent article on Wales Online showed the dangers of not treating damaged skin. A man was hospitalised after strimming Common Hogweed and getting sap on his legs.
Common Hogweed (aka Cow Parsnip) is found everywhere at this time of year in fields, verges and hedgerows.
It is not as toxic as its relative, the Giant Hogweed. The sap of Giant Hogweed can lead to skin damage and a light-sensitive rash which can recur for 10 years or more. The only known stands of Giant Hogweed in Bridgend are in Stormy Down, where it is being treated by the Council, and at Glanrhyd (unconfirmed). If you think it may be Giant Hogweed, do not touch it.
Common Hogweed can still give you a nasty rash, and like any burn or rash, if not treated, can lead to complications.
If doing any strimming or gardening around this type of plant, make sure you wear long trousers, long sleeve shirts, gloves and head/face cover.
This year we have been successfully shortlisted for Bridgend Business Forum ‘strictly’ Business Awards 2018!
The award we have been selected for is Service Business of the Year 2018.
It recognises businesses who are customer focused and doing something different for the local economy and community. We provided evidence of customer testimonials of exceptional customer service, notable achievements and why we stand out from other organisations in Bridgend.
The awards ceremony and glittering black- tie dinner will be held at the Coed-Y-Mwstwr Hotel, Coychurch, Bridgend on Friday, 28 September 2018, from 7pm until 11pm.
A red carpet arrival awaits, followed by a drinks reception and three course dinner prepared by a 2 rosette winning chef and the all-important awards ceremony. The event will be by hosted by BBC News Correspondent, Sian Lloyd with special guest Carwyn Jones AM and entertainment by Only Boys Aloud.
Fingers crossed for us on the night!
As we know, electrical appliances can be a cause of fires in the home. V2c has been advised that that some electrical fires were believed to have been caused by mobile phone chargers – other rechargeable items could also be at fault.
A Fire Chief has warned that Mobile phone chargers should not be plugged in overnight and that blazes have happened when phone chargers were left switched on in the outlet but not plugged into a mobile phone.
The Fire Chief went on to say that “These incidents highlight the danger of electrical fires - they can strike anytime, anywhere. Never leave items on charge or unattended for long periods – and ensure the plug to the charger is switched off even if it’s not connected to your phone/electrical item." He added, "Never mix and match chargers – always use the charger supplied, always follow the manufacturers’ instructions and guidance when using electrical items and turn off and unplug them before you go to bed.’’ In the unfortunate event of a fire, “Our advice is to be as prepared as possible in the event of fire, by ensuring that working smoke alarms are fitted in your home and that you have clear escape routes to enable you and your family to exit your home as quickly as possible.”
Dominic Littlewood, a consumer affairs expert, also revealed how leaving anything on charge for an extended period of time can be incredibly dangerous as it poses a fire risk.
Mr Littlewood said ‘’it's not just the fact that we're charging our phones for hours that should cause concern, but also where we're putting them.’’
Dom strongly advices against people sleeping with their phones in bed, as people place their devices under their pillow so they can hear their alarm clock in the morning.
Doing so could pose a fire risk - with phone batteries heating up while charging, and potentially setting fire to bed sheets and linen.
Instead, Dom says we should place our phones on a saucer, because that way if it gets hot, the china won't catch alight and we are better protected.
But the consumer expert also says charging your phone overnight could do long-term damage to its battery.
According to PC Advisor, you should never charge the battery all the way to 100 per cent. This is because constantly doing a full recharge will shorten the battery's lifespan. It is also important that the you don’t use fake phone chargers as though it’s often cheaper to buy imported, unofficial chargers, the cost can be much greater in the long run. Fake mobile phone chargers are often made with poor quality components that fail to meet UK safety regulations and this means they can cause injury, electric shocks and even fires.
To help you be safe, please see the hyperlink below for guidance
Achieving the Green Dragon Standard demonstrates our commitment to improving energy efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint and improving environmental sustainability.
We have held this accreditation for a number of years now and some of the positive benefits include:
1. Increasing waste recycling levels within our Housing Repairs Service.
92% of all our waste was recycled in 2017-18.
2. Using energy efficient and money saving measures within our offices.
These include fitting energy efficient LED lighting; reduced water consumption measures fitted, using black and white ink and double sided photocopying. All of these measures have saved us money allowing us to reinvest the money for other things.
3. Investing in sustainable technologies to assist our customers to save money in their homes.
These include the installation of solar PV and solar thermal systems and Air Source Heat Pump technology.
4. Investing in External Wall Insulation measures.
These have improved the SAP ratings of our homes which helped reduce customer’s energy bills.
5. Development of registers and action plans on Ecology issues.
These include protecting species like bats and invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed.
On Friday 3rd August Valleys to Coast held a fundraising event for Ty Hafan, our chosen charity for the year, upon hearing about Ty Hafan’s own open day on August 4th. We followed the same theme and turned our offices in Tremains into a Wild West setting with homemade, recycled props and décor. Colleagues were welcome to come in casual clothing for a £1 donation but any fancy dress was certainly appreciated and there were many attempts to out costume each other.
We held various activities throughout the day including a tuck shop, a gold chocolate coin hunt, giant jenga and a jail photo booth for donations. We also subjected several members of staff to being held in stocks whilst wet sponges were thrown (with pretty good aim) at them.
Throughout the course of the day we successfully raised £100.31 and have added this to our previous amount now totalling over £600! We will continue to support Ty Hafan and the incredible work they do with families and children around Wales.
Click here to see how V2C’s Board believes we are meeting the Welsh Government’s Performance Standards and suggests where we can improve.
Do you agree with the Board?
As a Top 10 Welsh Housing Association, we have announced the appointment of Anthony Whittaker as our new Chair of the Board of Directors, succeeding current Chair, Neil Harries. Anthony was officially appointed as Chair on 22nd October 2018.
Anthony has been a Chief Executive of one of Wales leading housing associations; United Welsh, until recently retiring and brings over 40 years’ experience of working within the housing sector. In addition, he has served as a non-executive Board member for a number of housing organisations in England and Wales. As a resident of Bridgend, in his spare time he enjoys walking with his dog, gardening and following his [formerly] local football team.
Commenting on the appointment, Donna Baddeley, our Chief Executive, said: “I am thrilled to be welcoming Anthony as our new Chair as he brings with him a wealth of relevant experience and a strong background in both Executive and Chair roles. In addition, he has a deep understanding of housing services, a strong empathy with our values and is committed to helping our customers live safely and happily in their own homes. I am looking forward to working closely with Anthony.”
“On behalf of the Board, I would also like to thank Neil for his significant contribution to Valleys to Coast and invaluable support over the past five years - we wish him well for the future.”
Anthony commented: “I am delighted to be joining at a particularly exciting time for the business and I strongly endorse the ethos shared throughout Valleys to Coast and its consistent focus on putting the customer at its heart. I very much look forward to working with Donna, the Board and the wider team as the organisation enters the next stage of its development.”
Servicing your boiler
The clocks have gone back; the nights are dark and the weathers getting colder. So make sure your boiler is in good working order so that you stay safe and warm this winter.
We service all our boilers free of charge every year, the service includes;
The service only takes around half an hour and is really important for you and your family’s safety.
If we identify any major repairs or a boiler replacement during this service then we will arrange for an engineer to visit you at a later date and book this as a separate appointment.
If you would like to find out when your boiler service is due, then please call 0300 123 2100 or email email@example.com
Last year was the first time, we asked you, our customers, to complete the ICS Customer Satisfaction survey. This survey is used by 247 organisations, ranging from Amazon to Welsh Water. The results of which, were excellent.
When drilling down into the results, we noticed that your satisfaction levels dropped when you tried to report an issue or problem (down to 65), or to just ask a question (down to 78.5). So we have listened and have been working hard to improve by:
At the end of November, the ICS will be emailing out the 2018 survey. If you wish to take part, or opt-out, please get in touch to ensure we have your up-to-date email address.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thank you all for your support throughout 2018, we look forward to seeing you all in 2019!
During this years festive season our office hours are:
21st Friday: usual opening hours 9am-5pm
24th Christmas Eve: Closed
25th Christmas Day: Closed
26th Boxing Day: Closed
27th December: usual opening hours 9am-5pm
28th December: usual opening hours 9am-5pm
31st New Year’s Eve: Closed
1st January New Year’s Day: Closed
2nd January: usual opening hours 9am-5pm
Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!
Modular building specialist, Wernick Buildings and ourselves have started to deliver eight new modular homes for Sarn and Tondu, after being awarded funding from Welsh Government.
Construction took place within the factory at Kenfig Industrial Estate and has taken as little as three weeks to fully build each home before being transported to their final location for installation which happened today.
The modular homes are made up of individual factory built modules, complete with fitted appliances, heating and electrics, which were then delivered and combined on-site to form a complete house. Compared to traditional construction methods, modular homes can be delivered up to 50% faster, reducing costs and environmental impacts.
Funding for these homes was made available through the Innovative Housing Programme which aims to help inform the Welsh Government, Housing Associations and Local Authorities about the type of homes it should support in the future. The project will contribute to the 20,000 affordable homes target set by Welsh Government.
Minister for Housing and Regeneration Rebecca Evans said, “Valleys to Coast is clearly ambitious to build the homes of the future, using modern methods of construction. We are committed to supporting projects like this, which are innovative and creative in their approach, and I was delighted to get a close up look at the modules being put together.”
Councillor Patel, the Cabinet Member for Housing said, “Our longstanding partnership with Valleys To Coast Housing has been hugely productive in providing local communities with high-quality homes, and I am sure that the new modular units will prove to be another big success.”
Darrin Davies, Director of Housing and Asset Investment at Valleys to Coast said, “Putting customers at the heart is key to what we do and building desirable homes where energy bills are low is what we believe will be best for the future. We look forward to seeing our customers benefitting from these high quality new homes where they feel happy and safe. We’d like to thank the surrounding neighbours for their patience when preparing this site for the delivery and making this possible.”
Stuart Wilkie, Managing Director of Wernick Buildings said, “Offsite construction promises shorter programmes to higher standards and with less waste when compared to traditional construction. We have been proud to deliver on this promise and help bring Welsh innovation to local housing.”
The Big Lottery funded Community Companions befriending scheme for over 50s is looking for volunteer voluntary befrienders in the Maesteg area.
For further details call BAVO, T: 01656 810400 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
What better way to celebrate the end of winter than planting 30 blossom trees ready for the summer.
It was pretty cold when Valleys to Coast (V2C) staff got out the shovels, to plant 30 cherry blossom trees in local sheltered schemes.
Working alongside Brian Jones from Keep Wales Tidy, V2C’s Corporate Service Team brightened up schemes around Bridgend with the cherry trees, donated by CFH Docmail Limited, who provide V2C’s in-house mailing system.
Craig Wadley, a V2C apprentice said: “It’s nice to give something back, brighten up our community and the trees will hopefully be enjoyed by future generations.”
Trees that couldn’t be put in that day went to the community project known as Caerau Community Growers.
Andrew Penny, V2C’s Housing plus worker said: “I just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to those of you who were able to come to Hafan Deg this morning to plant cherry trees! On behalf of everyone at Hafan Deg, your efforts are very much appreciated"
We have all been shocked and saddened by the horrendous fire in London this week. Whilst our thoughts are with those affected, we do understand that you might have concerns over the safety of your home.
Valleys to Coast (V2C) does not own any tower blocks and we do not own any properties over three storeys.
The initial media reports are focusing on the cladding fixed to the block of flats. We have applied external wall insulation to improve many of our properties, but we can reassure you however, that we have never fitted the ‘rain screen cladding’ used at Grenfell Tower. All our insulation improvement work was undertaken in compliance with Building Regulations and complied with Part B of the regulations as they relate to fire safety.
We take fire safety in your home very seriously. For this reason every property we own is fitted with a smoke detector and every year we carry out a gas safety check in your home. In addition we carry out regular fire risk assessments in all blocks of flats.
We need your continued co-operation to allow us access for the gas services and in keeping communal areas, hallways and stairwells free from personal possessions and items that might help fire spread or prevent a safe escape in the event of a fire.
Fires in the home are very rare but we cannot be complacent. By working together we can make sure that we keep each other as safe as possible.
If you have any concerns about fire safety in your home then please call our Customer Service Team on 0300 1232100 or send an email with details of your concerns to email@example.com
During December we sent out a festive message to inform our customers of our office opening hours over the Christmas period. This went out to 4,653 of our customers using our new SMS/text technology, which helped determine how many mobile numbers we have and will further help us to communicate via text in the New Year.
As an incentive for our customers to respond to the text message we offered a prize draw of £100 in vouchers.
The lucky winner was Mrs Eileen Riddiford who opened the text on Boxing Day without even realising she had entered, she said “I was really surprised when V2C rung as I’d forgotten I’d entered as it was so easy. I had the text and a couple of days later clicked the link it was that easy. I’ve never done something like this before but would definitely do it again, winning is a lovely surprise after Christmas and will help with our shopping”
Mike Bell, Business Systems Team Leader commented, “This is exciting technology that has recently been adopted by Valleys to Coast and helps us move forward building closer relationships and communication channels with our customers. I’ve visited Eileen and her family today to present her with the £100 vouchers. I was really glad to hear how easy she found the draw entry, she couldn't even remember doing it, so it must have been seamless!”
Make sure we have your up to date contact details so you too can be in with the chance to enter future prize draws and received messages from us regarding the services we provide.
We understand that some customers who had Direct Debit payments collected by Allpay on Thursday 7th December have been debited again on Friday 8th December.
We are working with our bank and Allpay to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.
Advice from Allpay is that any customers affected should contact their bank, and that anyone incurring bank charges will be refunded.
If you have any concerns about your payments please contact the Rents Team next week on 0300 123 2100.
V2C Opening Times are Mon-Friday 9am-5pm
Valleys to Coast are currently selling 4 new homes in the Cefn Glas area of Bridgend which are built by Barratt.
The homes are being sold on a Low Cost Home Ownership basis which means you buy 70% of the home and V2C pay the remaining 30%.
This helps first time buyers purchase their first home at an affordable price.
If you are interested in buying one of these properties please contact:
Peter Alan – Bridgend
|35 Pen Y Berllan|
|36 Pen Y Berllan|
|39 Pen Y Berllan|
|40 Pen Y Berllan|
We are members of the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), a professional body for Customer Service who support their members to improve their customers overall experience.
At V2C we put customers at the heart of what we do and are always looking at innovative ways to improve this. With the help of ICS we will shortly be emailing our customers, a short 5 to 10 minute survey to help us understand what services we deliver well and not so well. By doing this we can then see what we need to improve on to help us deliver great customer service time and time again.
All responses are completely confidential so please be completely honest with your feedback. As a thank you V2C will make a charitable donation of £1 to Sandville for each completed survey received. Sandville is a local, independent and self-funded charity that opens its doors to all people suffering difficulties. Visit their website www.sandville.org.uk or phone them on 01656 743344 to find out more.
Please ensure V2C has your up to date email address to be able to receive this survey, alternatively if you don’t have an email address please contact me directly; Michael Hughes, Senior Performance Officer, on 01656 727948 or call our Customer Service Team on 0300 123 2100.
Further information on ICS is available on their website here: https://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/
V2C along with modular building specialist, Wernick Buildings have been awarded Welsh Government funding to build eight modular homes in Sarn and Tondu.
Construction will begin in 2018 in Wernick Buildings specialist manufacturing facility at Kenfig Industrial Estate. The modular homes will be made up of individual factory built modules, complete with fitted appliances, heating and electrics, which will then be delivered and combined on-site to form a complete house. Compared to traditional construction methods, modular homes can be delivered up to 50% faster, reducing costs and environmental impacts.
Funding for these homes was made available through the Innovative Housing Programme which aims to help inform Welsh Government, Housing Associations and Local Authorities about the type of homes it should support in the future. The project will contribute to the 20,000 affordable homes target set by Welsh Government.
Communities and Children Secretary, Carl Sargeant commented, “The housing sector in Wales is facing many challenges. Increasing the number of homes available, the rate at which they’re delivered and their affordability, while reducing their impact on the environment are the most obvious. The projects funded by the Innovative Housing Programme will help us learn what works best and why, both in terms of what we build and how we build them. These projects will also demonstrate how we can use the Welsh supply chain to unlock massive opportunities for growth and innovation in housing.”
Darrin Davies, Assistant Director of Development at V2C commented, “As the largest social landlord in Bridgend we are exceptionally pleased to be awarded the funding as it will help provide much needed affordable homes within Bridgend. We look forward to working with Wernick, Welsh Government and Bridgend County Borough Council on the project”
On Tuesday the 18th July, Valleys to Coast (V2C) successfully retained the Green Dragon Level 2 accreditation for another year.
The Green Dragon Environmental Standard is designed to promote good environmental management within the organisation and to help manage activities in a way which impacts positively upon the environment.
The benefits of achieving the standard include: improved energy efficiency, reduction in V2C's carbon footprint and improved environmental sustainability.
This accreditation has been held for a number of years now and some of the positive benefits to V2C and their customers have included; improved waste recycling, making V2C’s offices more energy efficient, using latest technologies to help customers save money in their homes and investment in External Wall Insulation.
Rob Thomas, V2C’s Assistant Director of Property Services said “Achieving the Green Dragon Standard demonstrates V2C's commitment to environmental management and each year V2C have to go through a rigorous inspection audit to maintain this certification. We are thrilled to retain this for another year and shows how dedicated we are to making our thriving communities become greener while also being a successful organisation.”
Consultation on 'Information for tenants of social landlords' - Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill
Welsh Government wants tenant’s views on information social landlords will issue if the abolition of the Right to Buy in Wales becomes law.
They want to know if the document:
Please follow the link to the Welsh or English version and submit your views via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01492 593046
We’re at Wildmill Community Centre on
12th July, 2-7pm to talk to you about:
EXTERNAL RENOVATIONS TO YOUR HOME
Come along and chat to staff from our housing and maintenance teams about the external renovations to you and/or your neighbours’ homes.
We will also have a sample of the materials we are planning to use along with technical information about its construction and more importantly its safety.
Alternatively you can contact us at the office with any questions you may have:
0300 123 2100
There is leaseholder news! It's very exciting. Honest.
We have an exciting opportunity for someone looking to set up business in the North Cornelly area.
The unit is on a small parade on Heol Llan, North Cornelly. The parade has five shops including a Megasave Superstore, hairdresser and takeaway all of which benefit from a large off street parking area.
The shop is 50 sqm in size and currently includes a retail area, meeting space and WC.
For further information on the shop please contact our Property Agent:
Ian McGaw on 07815726804 or e-mail email@example.com
International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
17th May 2018
Today we are celebrating diversity, encouraging hate crime reporting, and show solidarity with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trangender (LGBT) people from the 81 UN Member States that still criminalise consensual sex between same-sex adults.
461 sexual orientation hate crimes were reported in Wales during 2016-17.
50% of hate crimes still go unreported.
Part of the rise is due to an increased number of hate crimes around the time of the EU referendum and in the wake of terrorist attacks.
It is celebrated on 17th May to mark the anniversary of the decision, in 1990, to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases published by the World Health Organisation. Even today it is estimated that 81 UN Member States still criminalise consensual sex between same-sex adults. Of these, seven still consider the death penalty an efficient tool in combating what they call a ‘disease.’
REPORT HATE CRIME
4 in 5 LGBT hate crimes still go unreported, but can have devastating and long-lasting effect on people and communities. Please report and seek practical and advocacy support by contacting the local police on 101 (999 in an emergency) or Victim Support (0300 3031 982 www.reporthate.victimsupport.org.uk/hate-crime/)
Report LGBT hate crime! Victim Support Cymru provide emotional, practical, and advocacy support, and have excellent feedback from people they have helped. Call 24/7 on 0300 30 31 982
LGBT hate crime can take the form of verbal threats, offensive graffiti, damage to property, assault, cyber bullying, or abusive texts, emails and phone calls.
All LGBT hate crime reports are taken seriously by the police. Even when it doesn’t lead to an arrest, this information is still vital for planning future prevention activities.
Children and young people in Wales experiencing anti-LGBT bullying can contact MEIC, a confidential, anonymous and free helpline service, available in Welsh or English, 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. MEIC can be contacted by phone, SMS text and instant messaging.
This year marks 70 years since the declaration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. #CadarnDrosHawliauDynol #Standup4humanrights
For more information just click here
V2C have assigned Mustard Research (www.mustard-research.com) to collect what you, our customers, think of us and our services. To do this Mustard will be phoning 100 customers every month – so there is every chance you may receive a phone call. They will be phoning from Halifax in England from the number 01422307578, so if you see this number don't be alarmed, but if you have any concerns feel free to contact us directly. We will be using this information to improve the services we offer, so please be honest and tell us what you think. If you wish to opt-out, or want to have your say without waiting to be surveyed, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modular building specialist, Wernick Buildings and ourselves are in the early stages of building eight new modular homes for Sarn and Tondu, after being awarded funding from Welsh Government late last year.
The Buy Back Scheme considers buying back ex-council or Valleys to Coast properties that were sold under Right to Buy. This helps us to increase the amount of affordable housing in the Bridgend County Borough area.
What properties are we looking to buy?
The types of properties we wish to buy must meet the following conditions:
We will also consider:
A District Valuer will survey the property to decide the current market value and how much it would cost to bring the property up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
We will not make an offer on every property surveyed. Any offer made will be within the price range given by the District Valuer.
We will act as "any other buyer". The seller is responsible for their own legal fees.
If you are interested in this scheme please contact us on 0300 123 2100 and ask for the Development team.
We acknowledge at Valleys to Coast that we have not bounced back from COVID as fast as we wanted and needed to when it comes to our immediate priorities, like repairs and dealing with complaints.
And because repairs and maintenance is our core service as an organisation, and our customers are at the heart of everything we do, we have decided to dedicate the resource needed to prioritising and amplifying our safe and happy homes project immediately.
This is in the shape of a Turnaround Team, led by our Corporate Director of Development and Growth Darrin Davies, and made up of experts brought together from across the business to get things up to speed. As a One Team organisation, all Valleys to Coast colleagues are committed to coming together to get what work needs to be done, done. As swiftly, and to the highest standards possible.
June outline update
The additional properties at Maes Y Felin which were added to the original property list for the phase 1 Wildmill contract are now nearing completion and what a difference a couple of months can make. As phase 1 of the external improvement comes to a close so the second phase is also starting to get up and running, with the initial properties being opened at Tairfelin scheduled for early in July.
The Three storey Blocks at Maes Y Felin shortly after work started
The same 3 Storey blocks as work is nearing completion at the end of June.
At the end of April and again early on in May the Projects Team along with colleagues from the Regeneration team contractors and consultants held a couple of consultation events at the community centre in the precinct at Wildmill. The events were held to let people on the estate know that phase 2 of the Wildmill external improvements were going to be carried out. Both events were open to all the residents and home owners on the estate who may have an interest in the work. Attendance at both the events was fairly high and the teams had a busy afternoon and evening dealing with a number of varying enquiries and requests.
Following the consultation events we have been working on the final preparations for Phase 2 which have include the relocation of the site set up and welfare facilities, to do this we have had to carry out the demolition of a garage site at Tairfelin and a new compound has been built to provide a secure storage and welfare facility for the contractors who are going to carry out the Phase 2 work.
SERS who have been appointed as the principal contractor to carry out Phase 2 have also been carrying out preparation work and have started to contact customers to put in place the arrangements needed to carry out the work.
We also have a consultant Surveyor, Gary Goodwin of Gsquared Surveying working through a list of privately owned properties to put in place Party Wall agreements and other statutory obligations with the private owners who live next door to Valleys to Coast homes. Gary will be on site over the next few months carrying out visits and speaking with the private owners to try and make sure that we can carry out the work as it is programmed.
The first Phase 2 properties are programmed to start early in July and the first scaffolds have been erected and repairs have started.
The First of the scaffold is erected at Tairfelin to kick off Phase 2.