Fusion are a super community group who manage their community hub of the same name on Connaught Square in Tonge Moor. I call them a ‘supergroup’ as the volunteers come from different tenant and community groups in Tonge.
Paula Rowson, our Community Development Officer based at our Tonge Moor UCAN Centre, my manager Caroline Lamprey, and me have supported the group since the idea to convert a more or less derelict building into community centre arose three years ago. The place now offers a variety of activities such as dance and art classes, a youth internet café, Breakfast Club and Tippy Toes – a parent and toddler group. It’s also a venue for our customer training courses and Craft a Story sessions run by the YMCA for youngsters. The Fostering Team use it for monthly support groups and BIDAS hold an informal drop-in service there to support those dealing with alcohol and substance misuse.
The volunteers have ambitious plans to develop the hub but find themselves at a crossroads on how to go forward. Continue reading
It’s now clear that there’s been a fundamental shift in national housing policy and how the government perceives registered providers and the social housing sector.
The first Conservative budget put down a clear marker that we’re part of the problem, not the solution. The surprise introduction of a rent freeze – minus 1% for four years ‘requiring Housing Associations and Local Authorities to deliver efficiency savings making better use of the £13 billion annual subsidy they receive from the tax payer’ (quoted from the Treasury Budget Red Book). In other words the gravy train has run out, you’ve had it easy for too long and not delivered enough – particularly on new build.
Already the press is starting to make us out to be the villains for this piece. ‘Housing association fat cat CEOs’ headlines are already starting to appear and a Channel 4 News investigation into the sector paints us as expensive and idle when compared to our private sector peers. Continue reading
This is my longest blog yet but I’m still excited about the TPAS Conference I went to with my fellow Customer Involvement Officer Lynn Cullen in July and there’s loads to share from it. TPAS stands for Tenant Participatory Advice Service and they believe in tenants and landlords working together to build great communities.
TPAS has the largest annual conference in the UK for social housing tenants and providers. It’s a two day event with sixteen workshops to choose from and an opportunity to meet tenants and officers from around the country. Lynn has been to this before but it was my first time and I was really looking forward to it – despite the early start to get to Warwick for 10am.
Having arrived at Chesford Grange in good time, the place was already busy and I met Alison Inman and Rob Gershon who were promoting SHOUT. This is a campaign for affordable and fair social housing and for new social rented houses to be built. Their vision is that different tenures are seen as equal and that no type of rented property is seen as inferior to another. Continue reading
You might have seen the march for Armed Forces Day in Bolton Town Centre on 27 June. The Wonder Woman Group in Hall i’ th’ Wood also put on a celebration event at the Greenway Community Centre, with a number of members having personal reasons to pay tribute.
The Wonder Woman Group meets 1-3pm every Tuesday at the centre and they’re supported by Christine Fitton – our UCAN Centre Project Officer from Tonge Moor. They’re one of the first groups I got to know and I’ve been impressed by their strength and support for each other.
The group offers positive activities to gain confidence, new skills and learn about support services. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome if you fancy popping in to see if it’s for you. Continue reading