Freephone: 0800 027 2057
Welcome to the latest edition of Home News Extra.
Home News Extra is here to give even more news from Acis.
Here you'll find videos, infographics, links to handy advice and more.
In this edition you'll find:
After last year's success, Our Heroes is back. We're going to make it bigger and better!
We work in great areas, serving fantastic communities with brilliant people. And we want to celebrate it so we widened the scope of the awards to recognise those people making a difference in their local areas.
This year we're introducing a new award, which means there are now four awards – and prizes – up for grabs for our heroes:
Wonderful Neighbour / Neighbourhood of the Year Award
Young Person / People of the Year Award
Garden Guru award
Positive Change award
Just like last year, nominations can be from anyone, for anyone, not just Acis customers. If you know someone who is deserving of an award, simply fill in a nomination form for them.
Winner: Janet Wright, Tealby
Janet picked up the garden guru award after transforming her garden in just eight months. From a boggy mess, Janet’s garden is now a beautiful and tranquil space full of colour – and also includes a catio for her beloved cats.
Janet said: “It’s amazing. I’m so pleased. I’ve not had the garden that long so it’s very pleasing to win.
“I love gardening. It’s very therapeutic and keeps me out of mischief. I was so surprised because there’s a lot of lovely gardens out there that people have done a lot of work on.”
Also shortlisted were Carole Jones of Newark and Anita Durham of Retford for their amazing gardens.
Young Person of the Year
Winner: Archie Smith, Gainsborough
Archie scooped the Young Person of the Year award for his work around the community, helping vulnerable people with various errands. He helps people who are clearly not as mobile as him by walking their dogs, cutting hedges and grass and generally being someone to chat to. In the winter, he also clears the snow from people’s driveways and gardens.
He said: “I’m very happy. I was a little embarrassed but I’m happy.”
Also shortlisted were the people involved in the #Iwill project in Woodthorpe, Sheffield, for their work to breathe new life into a community centre. The schoolchildren of Pilgrim School near Lincoln were also shortlisted for their attitude towards fellow pupils.
The pupils of Pilgrim Hospital School, Lincoln
The Pilgrim Hospital School in Lincoln is a school for pupils with various medical needs a vast majority of which are mental health issues. Their pupils are amazing and many of them have suffered more in their young lives than we could imagine. They demonstrate resilience; empathy and care for others. Recently they had a pupil who attempted to take her life and the support and care that her peers have given her since is outstanding. On top of all this, their Year 11 pupils have successfully undertaken their GCSEs and even with all that life has stacked up against them, they continue to undertake their exams and give 100%. The teachers never cease to be amazed at the resolve their pupils exhibit.
The #IWill project, Woodthorpe
The project is an excellent contribution to positive activities, community engagement and social cohesion in the Woodthorpe area of Sheffield. The project is working with young people in an area where Acis has lots of customers and it is excellent to see the cohort of young leaders being developed in an area facing saerious deprivation issues including gang crime. Woodthorpe Development Trust are supporting the young people as they deliver their skills and are now focussing on a project to regenerate a youth club with physical works, tree planting. They are focussing their efforts on something that will improve the area physically whilst also improving their confidence and skills
Positive Change Award
Winner: Maria Neall, Blyton
Maria won the Positive Change award – a new category this year – for her relentless work in helping to transform the playground at Blyton cum Laughton Church of England School. She volunteered to lead a project to transform the playground at the school. Once a boggy mess, the playground now has new features such as astroturf, playground games and is a much more exciting place for the schoolchildren.
On winning the award, she said: “I’m so shocked but very happy. I’m surprised because the other two nominees were very good with what they’ve put into their community.”
Also shortlisted for the award were Richard Kane and Steve Ralf from Gainsborough. Richard for running a foodbank, offering training opportunities for the local community, fundraising and investing into Gainsborough, and Steve for providing affordable food hampers to the local community in need and doing all he can to provide opportunities through a Community Café.
Richard Kane, Gainsborough
Richard Kane of Gainsborough is a well known face in the community and has offered vital opportunities to local people. He has provided a foodbank from his business as well as offering volunteering and training opportunities for anyone who needs it. He can often be found fundraising for community initiatives, including artificial football pitches for Gainsborough as well as donating his own money towards resources for the town.
Steve Ralf, Gainsborough
Steve Ralf of Gainsborough is another who puts the community’s needs in front of his own. Steve runs the affordable foods initiative in Gainsborough which provides affordable food and free hampers to the community food bank. He also works to provide opportunities for the town including a community café which is used by local baby groups. This is on top of volunteering his own time to support all these initiatives.
Do you know someone who is deserving of winning one of our awards and being recognised for their efforts in your community? Nominate them using the form below.
A new year-long project helping young people make a difference in their own community has launched in the Woodthorpe area of Sheffield.
We are working in partnership with Sheffield charity, All About You to deliver the #IWill community ambassador programme with almost £10,000 of funding from Clarion Futures.
Running every Monday evening between 4.30-7pm at the All About You building on Ulley Road, the project will help young people aged 11-19 gain valuable skills and experience for their futures.
Its aim is to engage young people who are passionate about making a positive difference in their local area, while developing their own skills and knowledge.
More than 1,100 of our homes are across Sheffield and Hannah Taylor-Dales, Service Development Manager at Acis, said: “We’re delighted to be working with All About You and Clarion Futures to bring this amazing programme to life in Sheffield.
“We want to be able to create the right conditions for young people to be able to express themselves and have an impact on their local area.”
Marta Rios, #IWill Project Lead from Clarion Futures said: “Clarion Futures currently supports more than 27 Community Ambassador Programmes across the country engaging over 300 young people during 2018-19.
“The benefits of this innovative volunteering programme have been extraordinary for young people and their communities.
“We are delighted to be an ambassador of the #iwill Campaign and working with Acis. We look forward to seeing the project grow and succeed.”
The #IWill project is a national programme, with both The National Lottery and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport each investing £20m over a four-year period.
To find out more, call All About You on 0114 265 4165 or email Ryszard Szumski on Ryszard@woodthorpedt.co.uk.
Back in August, the government published their green paper looking at social housing of the future.
We have responded to this after involvement and consultations with customers and employees on topics such as complaints, customer engagement and social impact.
And in February, we hosted a roundtable event with a number of social housing providers to discuss the response and form working groups to collaborate and move the identified projects forward.
Have Your Say Day
In March we held an event to hear from young people in our communities about their views on what employment support should look like for them.
Our aim is to engage with local young people and businesses to design a new service that will help young people as they enter employment.
Following on from our ‘More than Bricks’ research published last year, we have begun a new piece of research around customer expectations.
Engaging with our own customers as well as a number of customers from other housing associations we are working with, this is set to be our biggest piece of research yet.
Keep checking in here to see the results and findings.
You can read our last research piece, 'More than Bricks' by clicking the image below.
We are committed to keeping our customers and communities safe so we recently joined Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police for their Day of Action in Woodthorpe.
The day was to show our customers and the wider community that Woodthorpe is a safe and thriving place to live and by working with the police and council, it can continue to be that way.
Some of our people joined forces with our partners to send a positive message around police presence and community cohesion.
Whilst the police patrolled the area on their off road motorbikes and horses speaking with residents, some of our people took part in a litter pick around the area.
We also joined Sheffield Futures and their team at the Woodthorpe Youth Club to help with some decorating of the building.
They’re currently refurbishing the building so that it may serve the young people of Woodthorpe as a platform for community engagement and employability support.
The Sheffield Futures team have big plans for the club and we hope to continue working closely with them going forward.
You may have noticed on our website and social media channels that we have been increasingly talking about our day to day activities.
Every day, our teams do some fantastic work in our communities from attending meetings with local police forces to making sure customers are signed up and settled into their homes well.
Here you’ll see just some of the things we’ve been up to on a #DayByDay basis. Click on the images below to scroll through just some of what we've been up to!
We have bolstered our growth plans after acquiring more than 400 homes from PA Housing in the East Midlands.
This has seen us take on the 410 homes in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to expand our footprint in the area.
The multi-million pound investment sees the largest transfer of properties into our portfolio since the acquisition of 1,100 homes in Sheffield in 2006.
This latest stock includes supported, general needs and shared ownership housing.
We will be continuing our growth in 2019 with a strong pipeline of new developments working in partnership with a suite of local developers.
Acis Chief Executive Greg Bacon said: “We’re delighted to be building on our existing footprint in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, making a real difference to people’s lives. We’re thrilled to be able to support even more people through our services.
“Looking ahead, we’re delivering on our growth aspirations and stepping up to the government’s call for more social housing to be developed with further new homes in our pipeline.”
Matt Cooney, Chief Operating Officer at PA Housing, said: “We’re very pleased to be transferring these homes to Acis as we have faith that they will provide a good service to the tenants over the years to come. The consultation went well and we felt the transfer would work.
“This transfer follows a review of homes under our management and we came to the conclusion that Acis could provide a more local service to tenants than we could due to the location of the homes being outside our core areas. We wish Acis and our former customers the very best for the future.”
We have teamed up with Strategic Team Group to build 60 new homes on the site of the old Oakfield Junior School in Wombwell.
The start of construction work was marked with an official ground breaking ceremony at the site on Friday 5 April.
Representatives from Acis, Strategic Team Group and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council attended the event to hear how the development will provide high-quality affordable homes to the community.
Children from the neighbouring Kings Oak Primary School also attended to see the start of the development. Acis will be working with the school going forwards through its community engagement initiatives.
The new development, which has the financial backing of Homes England, will comprise 60 homes, including 20 for outright purchase, 24 available on a shared ownership basis and a further 16 for affordable rent.
This is our first venture into the area.
Greg Bacon, Acis Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to officially begin work on the site to bring new affordable homes to Wombwell.
It’s a great opportunity for us to grow and continue make our services available across South Yorkshire.”
Andrew Poyner, Development & Legal Director at Strategic Team Group said: “This much needed development will account for around one fifth of the Acis pipeline for 2018/2019, and as such we are very pleased to be such a significant delivery partner to their programme”
Check out an aerial view of the site in the fantastic video put together buy Strategic Team Group - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7B6VI8JBtI&feature=youtu.be
A new neighbourhood specifically developed to house people aged 55 and over has opened in Saxilby, Lincolnshire.
We have partnered with Lindum Construction to build the 60 new homes.
Work on the 50 bungalows and ten flats off Church Lane in the village started last year, and the show homes were officially opened in March at a ceremony attended by local dignitaries.
The homes will be available through an equal mix of affordable rent, shared ownership and outright sale, providing high-quality living space to meet the needs of Lincolnshire’s aging population. The development has been supported by a social housing grant from Homes England and customers are already reserving their plots.
The properties boast modern kitchen diners with fitted appliances, spacious walk-in showers, gas central heating, double glazing, enclosed rear gardens, off-street parking and excellent transport links.
Acis’ New Homes Sales Manager Kay Palmer said: “We’re delighted to be extending our footprint in Saxilby by bringing more affordable homes to the village.
“We are very proud of the development, providing excellent accommodation for the over 55s. It will be a lovely place to live and having met with the customers moving into the properties I believe it will be a delightful and friendly community.”
Acis’ popular shared ownership scheme means people can buy a 50% share in a property for just £67,500.
Simon Gregory, Managing Director of Lindum Construction, said: "It has been great to work with Acis and to see people moving into their new homes in this lovely area. There is a high demand for housing for people aged over 55. Providing these homes will release other properties onto the market.
"There are many additional benefits too, as we have used local subcontractors and suppliers and the wages and salaries will then be spent in the local community."
Di Krochmal, Strategic Housing Manager for West Lindsey District Council: “As a nation we are all living longer. There is often a lack of choice of suitable housing to ensure we are able to live safely and independently as we age. The right housing is known to have a positive impact on both physical and mental health and therefore it is great to see the different tenures being offered on this development providing a range of options for purchase or rent.”
The on-site show homes are available to view on Sundays and Mondays between 10am-4pm at number one and two Paddock View, LN1 2JQ.
We’re not like a normal social housing provider. We like to go above and beyond our responsibilities as a landlord, making sure we deliver on our vision to create better lives for people.
We focus on you – as a person, as a household, as a family, and as a community.
Our commitment to employability has continued to grow as our tenth apprentice signs up.
Josh Aisthorpe, 20, has joined the team as an apprentice in our Prime team, working in conjunction with Lincoln College.
And we are celebrating the milestone ahead of National Apprenticeships Week (4-8 March).
Alongside his work, Josh will be studying Business Administration to aid his development and take those next steps in a fledgling career.
On signing up for his Apprenticeship, Josh said: “I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to start my Apprenticeship with Acis.
“It’s been very beneficial already, teaching me about the role but also having the experience of an office environment and learning from others here.”
We now employ ten apprentices across the organisation in human resources, marketing and IT as well as five engineers.
Jill Dickson, our Volunteer and Employability Coordinator said: “It’s great that we are using Apprenticeships as a way to develop and introduce new talent into the organisation. We are committed to providing quality training and development by working with our partners to develop the skills and knowledge of our people.”
The news also sees our partnership with Lincoln College continue to grow with seven of the ten apprentices studying at their Gainsborough campus.
Nicola Hall, of Lincoln College said: “We have an excellent partnership with Acis and really appreciate their support of the Lincoln College Group and the community.”
“Jill has supported us with the launch of a new qualification Property Maintenance Operative Level 2 Standard and taken on several apprentices in this area”.
Sharon has been supporting our customers to gain job ready skills such as preparing CVs, enrolling onto courses and interview preparation.
And the success of the programme continues to grow. Since starting in the role earlier this year, Sharon has helped 30 people on the programme with six of those finding work.
On the success of the programme, Sharon said: "Accelerate is working really well. We've achieved a lot in a short space of time and there's a lot more to come!"
Do you need extra support with:
For more information, call us on 0800 027 2057 or fill in the form below and one of the team will give you a call back.
The latest feature in our series sees us follow a member of our safer communities team through a typical day.
Safer Communities Officer Ross Payne is one of a four person team that help our customers with making sure our neighbourhoods are safe and secure.
Setting up for the day
I start the day by reviewing any complaints of antisocial behaviour that have been taken by our Customer Contact Centre and check up on any emails that may have come in overnight.
Meeting with local partners
Part of my role is to build and keep relationships with any local partners that we can work closely with to help keep our communities safe. So I check in and meet with the police and other partners to see how we can continue work together to prevent any disturbances in our communities.
You can find more about what we can help with and where our partners support on our website at www.acisgroup.co.uk/asb.
Keeping customers involved and updated
I currently have two cases open today so I make sure I contact the complainant of each case to discuss any updates or just to let them know I’m there to support them through what is often a distressing time.
Going out and about
With antisocial behaviour cases, the team need to be dynamic and alert to be able to support customers when needed.
In these cases I am attending both complainant’s homes to gather any evidence that is needed to take the case forward to a positive outcome for our customer.
I will also work closely with the customers’ area service manager (ASM) to make sure the customer is comfortable with everything that we are doing.
Checking in on other customers and new reports
Whilst I am in the area I visit others in the community who are affected by the antisocial behaviour and collect any incident diary sheets that have been completed and reassure them that we are still dealing with the issues raised.
I then go back to the office to finish the day by checking the diary sheets for each case and look for any new reports that may have come through from our online reporting form at www.acisgroup.co.uk/asb or at the bottom of this article.
The most satisfying part of my role is making sure our customers are able to live a safe, peaceful and happy life.
You can find more information about what our safer communities
Ever thought of paying your rent by Direct Debit?
It's quick and easy to pay by Direct Debit - once set up, it's completely hassle-free. No more reminders to pay your rent. And the best bit of all, we'll let you choose the date that your payment comes out of your bank.
For more information, or to request a form to pay your rent by monthly Direct Debit, please contact our Income Team on 0800 027 2057.
Click on the image below to find out more about Direct Debits and other ways to pay your rent.
In April last year we launched a new, faster way for customers to make payments to us as we enhance our support services.
Since the introduction of our new Allpay service, we have seen a 93% reduction in the amount of monthly telephone payments made via the contact centre from 930 to 70.
This has allowed our contact centre team to improve their response time for other queries while meaning you have the ability to pay your rent in your own time.
Acis tenant Denise Armitage has been using the AllPay app to pay her rent and has told us how it has improved her experience.
She said: “The old way of paying was so longwinded and took a long time to get it sorted.
“Using the new system is easy. I just use my card, enter my details and it’s done. It’s as simple as that.
“It takes about a minute for me to make payments now I have an AllPay card. It’s a much easier way of doing things.”
Last year, we told you about our plans to introduce our new texting service to help you get information from us quickly and easily.
Now it’s here.
You can now text us to receive updates about your rent balance or request a call back from one of our friendly customer contact centre team.
We’re also planning to expand the service to updates about rent arrears, gas servicing, repairs appointments and customer satisfaction.
It’s all part of our plan to offer you better ways of communicating with us. We’re also working on some exciting changes to our website to enable you to manage your own tenancy more effectively – but we’ll tell you more about that when the time is right.
How it will work
To find out how much your rent balance currently is, text BALANCE to 07800002270. This will trigger an automated response back to you if we have your correct mobile phone number stored on our system.
To request a call back, text CALLBACK to 07800002270. One of our trusty team will get back to you as soon as possible.
Texts cost your standard network rate.
To update your contact details, call us on 0800 027 2057.
We take your privacy seriously and we abide by the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. You can view our privacy statement on our website at www.acisgroup.co.uk
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