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Dementia Action Week – 20th to 26th May 2019

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Did you know that every three minutes someone in the UK develops dementia. Despite almost all of us knowing someone affected, two-thirds of people living with dementia report feeling isolated and lonely.

This Dementia Action Week, Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging you to start a conversation; whether it’s calling a relative with dementia or visiting a neighbour, it’s time to start talking.  To support this aim Ocean is staging a series of staff and resident events, the dates for which are below:

• Rialton Heights – 22.05.19 at 1pm prior to bingo

• Fifield House – 23.05.19 at 11am at Chatties Coffee Morning

• Prince Charles House – 24.05.19 at 1.30pm

• Windmill House – 21.05.19 at 1.30pm

We know it can be difficult to know what to say. Visit https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-action-week for more information and tips on how you can start a conversation.

Changes to the way you pay

Ocean Housing is making changes to the ways you can pay.

From March 31, we will no longer accept cash or cheque payments at our reception in Stennack House.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We would like to advise customers that you will still be able to pay by card at reception.

Alternatively, you can pay over the phone by calling 01726 874450, online at www.allpayments.net.

For more information about direct debits, standing orders and other payment methods please visit www.oceanhousing.com

Polgrean Place: Bid, bid, bid!

Are you being decanted from Polgrean Place as a part of our regeneration project?

It can be daunting moving on to pastures new, but don’t worry, we are here to help.

Project Officer Amy Smith will be opening the Polgrean Hub every Thursday morning from 9am to 11am and have her laptop set up to enable you to bid on properties on HomeChoice.

Why not come along, have a cuppa and a catch up, and bid at the same time.  No need for an appointment.

Starts 9am on the Thursday, February 28, 2019.

Ocean invests £3.7m into home energy efficiency improvements

Ocean Housing is investing £3.7million in improving the energy efficiency of some of its homes.

Following a successful pilot, we have also been awarded additional grant funding by an energy provider which means we can carry out work to more homes. The work will include the renewal of roofs and external insulation of qualifying Cornish Units.

This will help to reduce the energy costs associated with living in this style of home and ensure residents are able to keep all rooms a comfortable temperature.

In order to be eligible for the improvements, the home must be “Hard to Heat”, as specified by the energy provider.

This means your home must have uninsulated ground and first floor walls. It may also have electric night storage heaters or oil heating.

Letters will be sent out shortly to inform those living in qualifying Cornish Units whose homes are scheduled for renovations during the first phase of improvements.

We will be contacting others who qualify closer to the time that work is scheduled to take place at their address.

Ocean Housing will work closely with you explain the whole process from start to finish.

This will begin with a meeting at your home and a survey of your property in its current condition.

For more information about what to expect click here.

Cornish Unit energy efficiency project: What you need to know

If your home qualifies for Ocean Housing’s £3.7m energy efficiency project you may be wondering what happens next.

We have put together a list of commonly asked questions to help guide you through the process.

How do I know if my home qualifies?

You should have received a letter from Ocean Housing explaining why your Cornish Unit qualifies for our energy efficiency improvement project.

As your home has uninsulated ground and first floor walls it has been classed as “Hard to Heat” by the energy provider that is part-funding our project.

But what exactly does this mean?

If your property qualifies, changes will be made to the roof and external insulation will be added to your home.

This should help reduce your energy bills and keep your family comfortable throughout the year.

What is next?

Once you have received a letter confirming that your home qualifies, you will need to arrange a convenient time for us to visit you and discuss the process and the works involved.

We will also need to carry out a survey of your property before works can begin. This will be carried out by our appointed surveying specialist Property Tectonics. They will contact you directly to arrange a convenient appointment.

You will also need to remove any personal belongings from the loft space as work cannot begin until this area is clear.

What will happen to my home?

Here is a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. A survey will be carried out on your property before any work starts.
  2. Scaffolding will be erected around the exterior of your home.
  3. All loft and mansard roof coverings (tiled sections) will be removed and insulation will be installed.
  4. Scaffolding is removed.
  5. The outer wall on the ground floor will be cladded with external insulation.
  6. Work is completed.

It is important that customers are aware that during the renovation works drilling of the exterior walls will take place, to allow the external insulation to be fitted. This will be extremely loud and can cause vibrations to be felt in the interior of the property.

We highly recommend that you vacate the property during this time to prevent discomfort. Ocean endeavors to complete all drilling within two working days.

What if my home doesn’t qualify?

In order to be eligible for the improvements, the home must be “Hard to Heat”, as specified by the energy provider.

This means your home must have uninsulated ground and first floor walls. It may also have electric night storage heaters or oil heating.

If, unfortunately, on this occasion your home doesn’t meet the criteria to qualify for this project you will be sent a letter notifying you and explaining why your home does not qualify.

We would like to reassure you that we actively continue to seek funding opportunities with the energy providers and local authority. We are hopeful that in the future we will secure funding to carry out energy measures to your home.

What if I have any questions?

Ocean Housing wants to work closely with you during this project. If you have any questions during the works please email help@oceanhousing.com.

Virtual Panel: We need you!

There’s one thing that most of us seem to never have enough of – and that’s time. We know you all have busy lives and might not be able to attend the tenant panel meetings we hold at our St Austell HQ each month – but we rely on your feedback to help shape and improve the services we offer.

So we’re creating a new online panel for residents, the Virtual Internet Panel (VIP), giving you the opportunity to have a greater say in what we do and how we do it, and influence the services which relate to the management of your homes. Your feedback is critical to understanding how we’re performing and how we can improve.

We’ll be using Facebook and email to communicate with our new Virtual Internet Panel, focusing on four major topics throughout the year, from repairs and complaints to customer engagement.  Feedback will come in many forms including quick questionnaires and Q&As. This isn’t a ‘tick box’ exercise: your views matter to us.

The first 100 people to sign up will be automatically entered into a £50 prize draw.

If you’d like to be involved, email us at help@oceanhousing.com with your name and contact details, or call the Tenant Involvement Team on 01726 874450, and we’ll be in touch.

Alternatively, you can fill in the form below.

Verification

 

Essential I.T. Maintenance

Due to routine I.T. maintenance our customer service team will only be able to assist with emergency repairs from 1pm today (1st February 2019).

If your call is not urgent, please can we ask that you wait until Monday 4th February, when we will be able to help.

We apologise for any inconvenience these essential I.T. works may cause.

Weather disruption

We are running a reduced service this morning due to the adverse weather conditions.  Our teams will be dealing with emergencies as a priority but please be patient as we are dealing with a high volume of calls.

Universal Credit: Working to support you

Welfare advisors from Ocean Housing are working from local job centres in a bid to help those struggling with the introduction of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit replaces six weekly and fortnightly benefits – including job seekers allowance, tax credits and housing benefit – with one monthly payment.

A phased introduction started in 2013 and more than 300 Ocean Housing customers currently receive the new benefit.

To help our customers make the transition to a monthly budget as smoothly as possible, two of our Welfare Advisors, Gemma and Rebecca, now work from job centres once a fortnight.

Gemma is based at St Austell job centre every other Thursday and Rebecca is in Newquay on alternate Mondays.

Gemma and Rebecca are holding fortnightly drop-in sessions for Ocean customers in local job centres

This allows them to offer more one-to-one support for our customers and – thanks to our strong working relationship with our local Department for Work and Pensions colleagues – grants the pair immediate access to the information they need to help our residents.

Rebecca and Gemma can also help with other welfare queries, such as bedroom tax, the benefits cap, Council Tax debt and water tariffs.

Sessions will initially be for drop-in advice but further home visits can be arranged where necessary.

The pair are a part of a specialist welfare team created by Ocean Housing in readiness for the roll out of Universal Credit, aimed at supporting our customers through the application process.

For more information about Universal Credit click here.

Ocean Housing ‘saves Christmas’ for more than 100

Ocean Housing carried out more than 100 emergency repairs during the festive close-down period.

In a bid to ensure customers enjoyed a merry yuletide, we attended 114 jobs and took 128 telephone calls to our emergency service number between Friday, December 21 and Wednesday, January 2.

Of these, eight were attended on Christmas Day and two on New Year’s Day.

Chief Executive of Ocean Housing Group, Mark Gardner said: “I’m very grateful to colleagues who were on call out duty over the Christmas and New Year period, ensuring essential and urgent services continued to be delivered to our tenants and residents.”

Since April 2018, Ocean Housing has answered in excess of 31,888 calls and completed 6,829 day-to-day repairs with a customer satisfaction rating of 98.1 per cent.

For more information about our emergency repairs service click here.

Our finger is on the pulse with defibrillator initiative 

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We’re delighted to unveil our latest community initiative with the installation of a portable defibrillator unit at our Head Offices in Stennack Road, St Austell.

The idea, which originated from a staff suggestion scheme, has now come to fruition thanks to the efforts of staff fundraising, matched by the Ocean Group. The device was commissioned this month by the Group’s Head of Health, Safety and Environment, Ralph Garth.

Ralph said;

‘This is a great initiative from members of staff who genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of colleagues and the wider community. Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, and a device like this can make the difference between life and dealth, which is why we were happy to support the idea.’

Nicola Mitchell, who submitted the suggestion, told of her excitement to finally see the unit in place:

‘I was delighted when Ralph confirmed they were on board with my idea. The idea originated from a first aid at work training session, and learning that early defibrillation can triple the chance of a person’s survival rate. Due to the location of Stennack House, in the heart of Holmbush, St Austell, I felt it would be a perfect spot for such important life-saving equipment, benefiting not only our office users, but also aiding the surrounding residential and commercial community’.

This device is now installed and available for use, within business hours, in the reception area of :
Ocean Housing Group Ltd,
Stennack House,
Stennack Road,
St Austell
PL25 3SW.


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New Homes for Liskeard

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Ocean Housing have celebrated the development of 24 new affordable homes at Rowan Lane, Liskeard with an event on Thursday 14th June.

Residents, neighbours and staff came together to share coffee and cake, and see the development officially opened by the Mayor of Liskeard, Christina Whitty. Phase 1 of the site, which consists of 20 homes for rent and shared ownership sale, was built by our sister company, Gilbert and Goode. Phase 2 was sold to local builder Pearce Fine Homes who developed 16 houses for open market sale, alongside a further 4 affordable homes for Ocean Housing.

All affordable homes were completed in February 2018 and allocated to people with connections to the town of Liskeard. The scheme proved so popular that 16 of the 17 affordable rent homes were occupied the day after completion, with residents moving into the remaining home the following week. The new properties range from one bedroom flats to four bedroom houses and provide spacious accommodation for single people and large families alike.

John Miller moved into a one bedroom flat in February and said

“This property is ideal for myself as I’m elderly and disabled and is much more suitable than the property I was in previously. The standard and finish is excellent, and I consider myself very fortunate to be here as an Ocean resident.”

Ocean Group Chief Executive Mark Gardner said

“This fantastic development is yet another example of our commitment to providing high quality, affordable housing across Cornwall; we are grateful for the continuing financial support of Homes England and Cornwall Council to assist in delivering homes where they are most needed”.

We have more Affordable Rent and Shared Ownership properties in the pipeline and Gilbert and Goode are actively seeking land opportunities across Cornwall.

If you are a landowner or agent please contact our Development Team on 01726 64800.

Breathing New Life into St Blazey

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Polgrean-07 map of phasesAfter securing government funding to explore the possibility of redevelopment at Polgrean Place in St Blazey in 2017, we can now announce our intentions to redevelop the area.

We will begin consultation with our residents this month, as we plan to bring a fresh breath of life in to the community in the area. Following in-depth studies, feedback from current residents and extensive surveying of the area, we have committed to the multi-million pound investment to redevelop 66 flats over the course of 3 phases.

We will be working with our residents and the wider local community, as well as a team of consultants, with the aim of submitting a planning application to Cornwall Council before the end of the year. If the application is successful, it will mean that building work could commence in Summer 2019.

By demolishing the 1950s concrete blocks of flats, we will be consulting on residents’ thoughts on creating a mix of flats and houses, as well as how best to give local people the opportunity to get on the housing ladder, through the affordable shared ownership homes.

Frances Turner, Managing Director at Ocean Housing, explains:

‘This is a massively exciting project for us and for our residents, both new and existing. Polgrean Place is a tight knit community and our residents feel strongly about where they live. We want to listen to residents’ views and harness their ideas to shape our plans, so that our investment in the area makes a positive, long lasting difference. Ocean is not underestimating the impact it will have on the existing community, and the well-being of our customers is paramount, so we have put in place dedicated resources to help our affected residents through the process from start to finish.’

We will be holding our first public consultation event at the Hands Together Community Centre located in Landreath Place on 27th June from 10am-6:30pm. It will be an opportunity for everyone to take a look at the plans so far, ask questions and put forward any idea they may have.

As the plans are currently in their infancy, there will be the opportunity for residents and the wider community to engage in shaping and developing a vision for the potential new build redevelopment scheme.

Fire Safety Matters

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To raise awareness of safety in the home, we held their first Fire Safety Awareness Week over May half term from 28th of May until the 1st of June.

During the week, there were number of exciting activities undertaken around the business and in the community: including two local fire station trips. The team spent their time encouraging customers to think about fire prevention and how to save a life, in the event of one.

Ocean Group’s Head of Health, Safety & Environment, Ralph Garth and the Tenant Involvement team worked closely with the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service to run a variety of activities to get the message out there.

Ralph Garth said,

“Our first Fire Safety Awareness Week has proved to be a fantastic initiative across our business to raise fire safety awareness in our customers and staff. The reaction has been really positive and the fire safety message is being spread far and wide, and we are especially thankful to our partners Cornwall Fire Service and Jewson for their involvement in the week.”

We teamed up with Cornwall Fire Service to run fun events at St Austell and Newquay fire stations; giving families the opportunity to go behind the scenes and understand the incredible work the Fire Service does.

Fire-Blankets-Jewson

Jewson, one of our key supply chain partners, also kindly donated over 60 fire blankets to be distributed to our customers over the coming weeks.

As a result of the positive outcome of the week, we intend to add this campaign into our calendar as a permanent fixture every May half term. Watch this space for next year’s Fire Safety Awareness Week!

www.oceanhousing.com/fire-safety-awareness-week

Ocean-Housing-Fire-Safety-Matters-Fire-Service

New homes with a View, a Coffee and an MP

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On Friday 18th May, we invited Steve Double MP to open our latest development at Tremeadow Rise, Trewoon.

After a 12 month build programme, the mix of 18 bungalows, houses and flats were fully completed this month. 3 families have already made this idyllic spot their home, with further moving dates booked in for this month.

Steve Double, Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay, welcomed the latest homes at Trewoon;

‘The affordable rent and shared ownership properties on this scheme provides 6 new homes for local people within the St Mewan Parish.

I am delighted to see families receiving an opportunity to live in such a beautiful part of the County and with Trewoon being a close-knit community, I believe this development to be an asset to the village. This has allowed families who might have otherwise had to look elsewhere for suitable housing, remain part of their preferred community’.

Mark Gardner, Group Chief Executive of Ocean Group commented on the success of this scheme.

‘We are delighted to have delivered these homes within such a well-known and established community, where affordable housing is much-needed and home ownership can be so out of reach for many.

This collaborative site between our sister businesses, Ocean Housing and Gilbert and Goode, has delivered a well-balanced, mixed tenure scheme with designs that complements their surroundings.

At Ocean Group we invest in people and communities, and this message is never clearer than when we get the opportunity to meet and welcome our new homeowners at events like this.’

Mark continued:

‘We would like to offer special thanks to the St Mewan Parish Council for their support during this development project and to the neighbouring community for their patience during construction works’.

We have more Affordable Rent and Shared Ownership properties in the pipeline and Gilbert and Goode are actively seeking land opportunities across Cornwall.

If you are a landowner or agent please contact our Development Team on 01726 64800.

New homes celebrated in Blackwater

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Ocean Housing celebrated the completion of 24 homes at Coburg Terrace and Wheal Concord Way, Blackwater on Tuesday 24th April. The scheme, built by and developed in partnership with our sister company Gilbert & Goode, provides 12 affordable rent and 4 shared ownership homes for local people, as well as 8 open market properties.

Residents came together to see the development officially opened by Councillor Andrew Mitchell, and enjoyed coffee and cake with neighbours and representatives from Cornwall Council and Ocean Housing.

Completed in October 2017, the scheme proved extremely popular; with all the rented properties allocated immediately and most of the shared ownership and open market homes sold off plan.

Resident, Beata Prudnikow told us

‘We had lived for years in private accommodation and the conditions were poor. The phone call offering us a house was life changing for us all; we absolutely love our new home.’

Ocean Group Chief Executive Mark Gardner said

‘This development is a fantastic example of providing community within a community; one bed flats to four bedroom houses ensure that the sustainable development complements the popular village of Blackwater’.

The Ocean Group is working with Cornwall Council across the county to provide homes that meet the needs and aspirations of Cornish families.  Homes are currently being provided from Penzance to Lanreath near Looe, with over 1,000 homes being built in over the next 5 years.

 

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Ocean’s wave of Energy Efficiency Works starts

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It’s all go on a programme of works for two families in Ocean Housing homes, as the scaffolding goes up in Foxhole and St Stephens. After installing new heating systems in over 2,000 of our homes over the last 18 years, we are now looking at how we can go one step further with our traditional ‘Cornish unit’ built properties.

Always looking at ways of improving the energy efficiency of our properties, Ocean Housing recently received Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Warm Homes Funding, to support us deliver our energy efficiency works, which will target properties that are difficult to heat.

We plan to insulate and renew the roofs & mansards, install external wall insulation to the ground floor elevations and upgrade the heating systems to 128 of their homes. No mean feat in the two year window we have set ourselves. Working closely with our customers, we hope to cause minimal disruption and ensure no-one need move out during the works.

Steven and Rachel Townsend, who live in one of Ocean Housing’s larger homes in Foxhole with their six children, will benefit from this work and said

We are very excited to be involved with the project and had no hesitation in saying yes when Ocean asked us”.  Works have already started in their home and should be completed by the end of April. “We are looking forward to a warmer home and more economical bills”.

Stephen Channing, Ocean Housing’s Project Manager stated that

Once completed, the difference these works will provide in terms of heating customers homes, the potential reduction in fuel bills and the external appearance of their home, will be very noticeable straight away”.

At present we plan to complete the programme of 128 homes over the next two years, but hope to expand the programme further in the future, if funding becomes available.

Being proud of the work we are doing to improve our customers’ homes, Ocean Housing will be sending out regular updates on the project via our social media channels, so follow us to track its progress.

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Ocean’s new Chair tables plans for Group’s future

On the eve of its 18th birthday, Ocean Housing Group has appointed its new Chair, education and leadership professional Debbie Wilshire, to take over the mantle from Dennis Spilsbury, who retired at the last meeting. Since Ocean took on the management of some 3,500 properties from the then Restormel Housing Trust in 2000, over £110million has been invested into those existing properties, and a further £144million into providing over a thousand new homes.

Ms Wilshire brings a wealth of board level experience to the growing Group of companies, which is headquartered in St Austell and employs over 240 local people across the parent group, construction company Gilbert & Goode and social landlord Ocean Housing. Her career has spanned legal studies, further education and the strategy and delivery of leadership and management, across Cornwall and nationally.

Mark Gardner, Ocean Group’s Chief Executive, welcomed Debbie to the role:

“I have seen first-hand the quality of Debbie’s contributions as Deputy Chair and Board  member and I am delighted at the prospect of working together to deliver the Group’s ambitions and continuing our positive impact on the Cornish economy.”

One of Ms Wilshire’s key priorities will be to take forward the Group’s new Corporate Strategy. This sets out the plans for 2018-2023, which will include 800 new homes of all tenures and an investment of £145million in new and existing homes. In particular, this will focus on improving the energy efficiency of Ocean’s stock and help its customers to keep warmer in winter.

Debbie Wilshire spoke of her passion for Cornwall, on taking up her new post as Ocean Group Chair:

“Cornwall needs housing providers that combine the business acumen to get things done, with the social conscience that cares about the people in each one of its homes. I am really looking forward to working with my very impressive Board colleagues and Ocean’s excellent Executive team. Together we will create innovative and customer-focused developments and services. As well as meeting the ambitions of those in housing need across the county, we will ensure a flowing pipeline of business for our supply chain partners.”

The Ocean Housing Group website includes more information about the plans outlined in this article and how you can get in touch:

www.ocean-group.co.uk.

Ocean Housing Group wins Training Award

Ocean Housing Group was recognised twice over for its track record on the training and development of its staff, and its commitment to apprenticeships at the Excellence in Business Training Awards event hosted by Cornwall College Business Training.

We were winner of the Outstanding Commitment to Training (Large Business) Award and runner up in the Outstanding Commitment to Apprenticeships (Medium/Large Business).

Mark Gardner, Group Chief Executive for Ocean Housing Group said

“It is great to be recognised for all that we’ve managed to achieve this year for learning and development across the whole group business.”

Staff at Ocean have benefited from its desire to be an employer of choice and Ocean has invested in training opportunities to the tune of £400,000 in the last five years.

This has been spent on skills training for staff and on educational qualifications. Ocean has run a number of training events for staff from IT skills to Understanding Mental Health. It has also supported staff to gain qualifications in Housing, Finance and Surveying, from NVQ level 2 and 3 to Degree level qualifications. Many staff have progressed from apprenticeships through to senior management roles.

Frances Turner, Managing Director for Ocean Housing Ltd explained

“We want to provide the support and opportunities for staff to achieve their full potential, by giving them freedom to try things out and do things differently and they are supported in that with the relevant skills and training.”

Ocean has worked in partnership with Cornwall College Business to take advantage of the last of the European funding available to provide Management skills training for its staff, providing CMI Level 3 and 4 qualifications. Ocean has also recently launched its own in house Leadership Programme called LEAP, run by IF Development, to help develop its current and future leaders.

Craig Rowe, Development Manager for Gilbert & Goode Ltd said

“I joined Ocean on a graduate placement scheme in the HR Team, before moving to Development as a Development Officer and have recently been promoted to Development Manager. Ocean has supported me in my professional Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyor studies and I have benefited from a lot of in-house training too. I have really been able to build a career here at Ocean.”

Ocean are always keen to hear from anyone interested in joining our team who is innovative, ambitious and brave for the future and you can register your interest and receive alerts for job vacancies on the Ocean Housing Group website.

 Job Vacancies