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Autumn newsletter

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HOME WORDS Autumn Edition 2017 Charity Number 7030130 Welcome to the relaunch of Adref’s Newsletter. Many things have happened since the last edition, not least the opening of our new hostel in Merthyr Tydfil—Chaplin’s (right), and the Old Bakery project metamorphosing into the Grange ( left) in Pontypridd. There is news from all our projects inside. Organisation Matters by Dave Jones , Executive Director Just a quick update from me about where we are in terms of the re-organisation. As you will remember in January we implemented the structural changes that the Committee agreed in October 2016. Most staff would have experienced change in the operations division which saw all services come under one roof first time (other than the shops which I am still championing!). Anyway for the projects this was a huge change and people are embracing it well. There was some work to do with project priorities especially since our funders and partners are now setting quite strict targets for us. Having all the schemes in one division really helps as we can support each other and swap good practice. This is being helped by the mid management team who are delivering under the stewardship of Wayne Thomas. A great initiative I think is great is role swaps which will give people experience of working in a different team/project. Feedback so far is very positive and the Board is very happy that all in all things are coming together well and, ultimately, this is bearing fruit in terms of the service our users receive. The Resources Division is absorbing change well (including stepping up after retirement of one team Member). And Lesley’s new role of Communication Director is reaping rewards – indeed, this publication is proof of that. Going back to the Board, we are once again in the process of recruiting new members. We have a small but dedicated Board but are always looking for new Members – especially those that have experience of finance or HR. It is difficult to find people to sit on any charity Board as the positions are voluntary also they have ultimate responsibility to ensure we run effectively as a charity. In September we welcomed Richard Morgan to the Board. Born in Aberdare he moved to London to establish his career which encompasses social entrepreneurship among other responsibilities. Recently moved back to Aberdare we look forward to working with Richard who brings expertise on organisation development, funding and profile.

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The Grange Woodland Adventures This June, our intrepid residents headed out to the great outdoors to learn how to cook on an open campfire and to make woodland crafts. The Actif Woods Project is based in Merthyr Tydfil and their aim is to get people engaged with their local woodlands to promote the benefits of our Welsh open green spaces which they hope will improve their health and wellbeing. The day was a tremendous success with positive feedback from the clients and the organisers. Our client Hope told us “Being able to have a day out with my friends somewhere different was great” and Nathan said “People were lovely and the project was ‘proper’ creative. Everyone got involved and didn’t need any encouragement to complete the tasks. Cooking the doughnuts from scratch is something I learnt to do and now I can show others!” Our clients thoroughly enjoyed their experience and said that it was great to get away from the town and into the countryside. Beck Fawcett an ActifWoods volunteer wanted us to feedback to the group that “It has been a long time since I have worked with such a respectful and enthusiastic team. They were respectful to the environment, adults and to each other. I was delighted with how well they got involved and their consideration in making cups of tea, carrying equipment and praising each other's effort. Working with this group was a delight.” Anna Stickland who manages the project added that “the group were a pleasure to work with. I had a really nice day and I hope they did too. They were all polite and engaged and I had no concerns with them using tools, being around the fire or using the kelly kettle. There was some mild frustration while learning to use the shave horse but they mainly persevered and dealt with this well and were good at encouraging each other. The accompanying staff seemed to see the benefits of getting the group out and they were very supportive.” We will be working in partnership with ActifWoodsWales in future endeavours for the benefit of our future clients. I would encourage anyone interested in this project to get involved. It’s a great inclusive project as its’ local and free. Places are limited so if you’d like more information or to book places contact Anna Stickland at actifwoodsmerthyr@smallwoods.org.uk or call 07765 213514. A Gift for Garth Villas A former resident called Gary made a handmade gift of a planter for the newly refurbished hostel garden, to say thank you for the support he received whilst staying at Garth Villas. Gary found himself sleeping in a tent after a relationship breakdown in March 2017. He had never lived independently before. He had no income and nowhere to stay. He initially had benefits put into place whilst working on the StreetSmarts Scheme before accessing a room at Garth Villas in April 2017. Gary worked hard with Support Workers and attended almost every training course available in the community of Merthyr Tydfil. He particularly enjoyed the carpentry class at the Gurnos 3G’s Centre and learned a lot of beneficial skills that he hopes to apply to future employment. Gary accessed a private tenancy in Merthyr Tydfil in June 2017. Staff supported him to

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set up Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit and also to set up his utilities and furnish the property. Gary is continuing to live independently in the community and is hoping to find work soon. A new worker for Street Smarts in Merthyr Tydfil Joanne Davies is a new member of staff who started working on the Street Smarts Project based at Garth Villas at the end of July 2017. Joanne has come to Adref after having a background in hostel support work at Solas. Joanne is keen to support homeless clients in Merthyr Tydfil as well as supporting those with tenancy related issues. She spends her time between Garth Villas and the Housing Solutions Team at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council seeing clients and helping with any emergency interventions needed by clients. Support offered includes help with benefits, housing, form filling, money and budgeting issues as well as signposting and referring on to specialist agencies. Joanne has a portfolio of clients who have self-referred into the scheme and she has already seen a positive moveon.Joanne has set up a working partnership with the Pot Noodle Factory in Crumlin Gwent who have donated large amounts of Pot Noodles to the scheme so that clients who are homeless can have a hot meal on the go. These noodle snacks will prove invaluable in the winter months. Joanne is looking at setting up partnerships with other companies who can provide sleeping bags and thermal clothing for when temperatures drop and when rough sleepers seek emergency help to cope with being out in the elements. From Garth Villas to a promising retail career Richard was a resident at Garth Villas a few years ago he enjoyed his stay there and with staff support he moved into a private let in Merthyr Tydfil, where he still lives. Once settled into his new home, he started to volunteer in the Aberdare shop, first on the van and then in the shop, he took to retail really well. Time moved on and he became a Senior Volunteer, that role included cashing up, pricing and opening and closing up. Together with Joy and Gareth, he became a member of the main management team in the shop. As his confidence grew in all arears of shop work, he began to develop a keen retailer’s eye. Caryn, the permanent shop manager is on maternity leave, so we recruited for a temporary replacement. Richard was among the hundred or so applicants. On the interview day he beat off strong opposition to secure the post.. Richard is picking up the systems really quickly, and on his second week was dropped in the deep end as Paul went on leave! Hope- fully Richards’s retail skills will be developed fully and at the end of the temporary contact he will be able to move on to full time work somewhere in retail. This story demonstrates how the support provided by Adref across all divisions helps produce positive outcomes for peo- ple facing often seemingly unsurmountable difficulties. Last but not least, congratulations Caryn on the birth of your daughter.

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A Fresh Start at Chaplin’s Michael first accessed Chaplins Hostel in October 2015, he had started associating with the wrong crowd, his relationship with his mother had broken down and he had been asked to leave the family home. Unfortunately Michael had issues with alcohol misuse and this led to an altercation that landed him with an 18 month prison sentence. On release Michael returned to the family home but old issues resurfaced and he was referred to Chaplins Hostel for a second time. This was via his Probation worker, who thought this was the only way to avoid a further custodial sentence. Michael then took this chance to completely turn his life around. He engaged well with all support at the hostel, regularly attending key work sessions and house meetings. Michael built good working relationships with all staff and made an effort to get on well with other service users. He also engaged well with his support worker at TEDS in relation to alcohol misuse, distanced himself from all known bad influences and eradicated alcohol from his life completely. Furthermore, Michael threw himself in to becoming what he thought of as a better person and partook in a number of activities including an outdoor activities course from which he gained some qualifications. Michael aspires to be a chef and with this in mind he consistently attended cookery lessons with Communities First as well as undertaking regular voluntary work at Jols restaurant; both of which, he thoroughly enjoyed. Michael took his learned skills and used them to teach other service users how to cook. Michael also volunteered weekly at the High Street Church. An opportunity arose for Michael to secure a tenancy in supported housing with Merthyr Valley Homes. Due to his chequered past he was required to go for interview, which he sailed through due to his dramatic turn around. Michael was then offered a property which he was happy to accept. Staff then were able to guide Michael to apply to the Discretionary Assistance Fund for furniture/household items as he had very little possessions. The Adref charity shop were also able to provide Michael with a start-up pack for which he was extremely grateful. Michael is now happy and settled in his new home. Meet the Support Worker 4 Nicola Rowberry, Garth Villas Why did you come into supported housing? It was actually by accident! I was doing youth work and working for the local council but was only doing part time hours. I wanted to get full time work and I was dropping my CV around numerous places in Aberdare. I dropped my CV in to Adref head office and about a month later I had a call from Rhydian to come for an interview. And 10 years later I’m still here! What music do you listen to? Cheesy pop. especially Westlife! Dog or Cat? Dog

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Soap or Documentary? Depends…Hollyoaks is my guilty pleasure…but I hate all other soaps! So therefore I’d chose documentaries! Favourite meal Cake! How do you relax? I listen to audio books on my phone How would you spend a lottery win? After sharing with friends and family I would want an apartment in New York, a canal boat on the Seine in Paris, a flat in London….and a boat…a big huge boat!! Pizza or Curry? Pizza Town or Country? Country Preferred mode of transport Car Most admired person My little sister. She is the strongest, toughest, kindest, most amazing person. She took all the mistakes I made through my life and used them to ensure she didn’t make the same mistakes I did. Universal Credit The rollout of the new Universal Credit, brought in under the Welfare Reform Act in 2012 has resulted in major issues for claimants as it has caused one in four low-income tenants to run up rent arrears, putting them at risk of eviction. The online application system can be confusing and there are then long waits to get financial help and very long waits for advice over the telephone. It has been noted that it can take over 10 calls to the universal credit helpline during the application process just to arrange the initial appointment at the jobcentre. For people who are not aware; Universal credits combines six benefits, including ESA, Jobseeker’s Allowance and housing benefit. The government sated that Universal Credit was set up to mirror the way many people in work are paid. The DWP believe that the best way to help people pay their rent and improve their lives is to help them get into work. One of the most important differences is that rent is paid directly to tenants unless they fall into rent ar- rears or work with a support service where in these cases the rent can be paid directly to their landlords. The advisory charity surveyed 800 people who sought help with universal credit in pilot areas and found that 39% were waiting more than six weeks to receive their first payment and 57% had to borrow money for basic needs during that time. Even after the initial appointment claimants are not eligible for Universal Credit for the first seven days of their claim. This is on top of the four to five-week processing time means that claimants had to wait several weeks for their first payment to arrive which means that they are often already in debt and have rent arrears. The DWP have stated that they have budgeting advice and benefit advances available for anyone who needs extra help so the waiting time should not be an issue. However experiences with service users have shown that it is an issue. More and more claimants are turning to food banks and charities for gas and electric payments as the Discretionary Assistance Fund often do not issues emergency payments while a universal credit claim is being processed. As a result of the ineffective process times claimants are unable to meet their basic needs, and charities are less likely to be able to provide assistance for rental payments or gas and electric tokens. His has men that people are at threat of homelessness whilst trying to survive without gas and electric even in colder winter months. As a result of the situation Adref have decided to set up a Universal Credit gas and electric stop gap fund. This will provide gas and electric tokens for people facing a 6 week wait for their payments to be made and will be available for service users moving on and those already accommodated but changing their claim and moving onto universal credit. This means that Adref are the only support providers who are able to provide an ‘all-round’ service. We work in partnership with food outlets so we can provide food parcels, we can also issue food vouchers provided by local food banks, we are able to purchase gas and electric tokens from our own funds and liaise with landlords to address the rent arrears to avoid homelessness. Together we can eradicate homelessness and empower service users.

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News from Anne and the team in Resources I am happy to convey to you that we have received a clean bill of health following the audit of our 2016/2017 accounts. We are also looking at the feasibility of sending payslips electronically, so watch this space! Gareth has been busy following recent increases in Computer Ransomware viruses. As such Adref have increased the Internet Security Protection on all devices; this has been achieved by adding Malwarebytes Anti Malware & Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit. We have also increased the level of Back-ups on all Servers by installing two separate external backup drives, which are rotated weekly. What is ransomware? Ransomware is a form of malicious software (malware) that enables cyber criminals to remotely lock down or encrypt the files on your device. Criminals use ransomware to extort money from you (a ransom), and will claim to restore access to your files or device once you have paid. Ransomware can be delivered in various ways; for example, via attachments in authentic looking emails purporting to be from genuine companies. How to protect yourself:  Anti-virus: Use anti-virus software on all of your devices and configure it to automatically update. Run a complete scan of your system to check for any malware infections.  Updates: Install the latest software and app updates on all of your devices. These updates will often contain important security upgrades which help protect your device from viruses and hackers.  Backups: Backup all of your important data to a storage device that won’t be left connected to your computer or network, such as an external hard drive, or an online storage service. Emails: Don’t open attachments or click on the links within any unsolicited emails you receive. Spoofed emails purporting to be from a person or company you know of can be used to deliver ransomware. Congratulations Bethan! Team member Bethan Pryor recently received the ‘Highly Commended Apprentice’ Award, from the MPCT Sport Academy. Bethan has completed her level 2 in sports and fitness and is now a qualified level 2 fitness instructor. If anyone is looking for motivation to get fit and healthy, look no further. Adref are working towards the ‘Silver’ accreditation of the Small Workplace Health Awards, and Dave Jones will shortly be setting up a working group to move this forward. All Change for Kyle and Eiran On 17th July Kyle Ritchie Support Worker from Chaplin’s changed places with Eiran Thomas Tenancy Support Officer from Floating Support for 6 months. The aim of this is for all Adref Support Workers to have the experience of working in the 2 different arrears of support, (hostel and floating support). The swap is only a few weeks in at time of writing but the differences Kyle has noticed so far are; Meeting clients in their own homes is totally different as need to respect their personal space, understand how they choose to live and also work with their children, other family members and animals in their environment.

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Finding the arears where they live, making contact and trying to arrange weekly visits. Paperwork and calculating hours of support is different (travelling, support session length, phone calls, admin) Meeting all floating support staff in both areas Merthyr and RCT, this has confirmed that we are all one company and all strive to the same end goals and outcomes for the people who use our services whether in Hostel or Community. From Meeting Service Users in own homes can see what further struggles they occur when in their own tenancy, and have gained further skills to take back to hostel to pass on this information to Service Users and staff members. Floating Support Typical Diary Monday- Admin arrange visits for week, prepare sessions for week ahead. Tuesday- Visits contacting agencies, Benefits, Council, working through ISP Wednesday –Visits, Initial needs assessments ( referrals) Thursday -Visits Friday – Paperwork ( contact notes, updating ISP’s and Service User files) This is a new idea and will be continuing to be trialled through Adref, a new initiative that gives staff the chance to work in different arears, Kyle would like to inform all staff that this should be embraced ( even if you feel out of your comfort zone) it’s an exciting, educational challenge and will build Adref as a team, which will benefit staff ,Service Users and the organisation as a whole as regardless of what department you are working in each member of staff has the same goal in regards to the job in hand. We’ll find out from Eiran next time how she got on in the hostel! Mill street Hostel Activities Cookery Here at Mill Street, we hold weekly cooking sessions with residents. The clients are fully involved and included in what meals are cooked. Clients discuss the ingredients needed to complete the task, which includes looking at the prices in different shops and are supported to shop for the ingredients. This activity counts as part of the vocational requirements within their licence agreement. This activity offers budgeting and shopping skills that are transferable for when clients move on or live independently in the future. We hold regular house meetings with residents to determine what they want to want to cook and what time would suit the residents to ensure we have the maximum participation. The outcomes of the cooking have been very positive. The corned beef pie that was made only a few weeks back was nothing short of amazing; the picture speaks for itself.

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First Aid First Aid taster was very popular with full participation from all our clients. The course was extremely informative and helpful to everyone. Everyone enjoyed the course and said afterwards that they were glad that they were now more capable of dealing with an emergency if the need arose. Training was led by our hostel manager Julie Williams. The training covered the main aspects of basic First Aid for adults and infants. The course was extremely beneficial to the entire hostel. The residents each took turns in demonstrating the correct way to administer First Aid and everyone got to use the defibrillators. Each client was presented with a First Aid certificate at the end of the 2 hour course as well as refreshments. Tesco Vouchers up for Grabs! If you are a client or ex-client of Adref and you have something to share, we are looking for stories, picture and poems! Everyone we publish will earn a £10.00 Tesco voucher. Ask your Support Worker for details. How to contact us Main Office 54-55 Bute Street Aberdare CF44 7LD Tel 01685 878755 Fax 01685 881202 info@adref.org.uk newsletter@adref.org.uk Online Website: www.adref.org.uk Twitter: @Adref_Info; Charity Shop Twitter: @shopadref Facebook: Adref Charity Shop Aberdare Adref Charity Shop Pontypridd Follow us, be our friend or just visit the website!

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