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HRH The Princess Royal Re-Opens Flagship Homeless Centre on Wirral

A state-of-the-art homeless centre on the Wirral welcomed a very special visitor today as Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal officially reopened the facility, 18 years after opening the original site.

Mary Cole House, which is operated by Wirral Churches’ Ark Project - a homeless prevention, support and accommodation service, has undergone a multi-million-pound renovation project designed to ensure it can offer enhanced accommodation and support to people who face homelessness in the local area.

The renovation project was funded by Homes England and Wirral Council and project managed by Magenta Living, Wirral’s biggest provider of social housing, on behalf of Wirral Ark. The renovations included a part demolition and refurbishment of the existing Birkenhead-based building with a wraparound new build extension.

Originally launched by Wirral Ark in 2001, when it was opened by HRH The Princess Royal, Mary Cole House was funded through National Lottery Charity funding and donations from local businesses.

On her return to the newly renovated centre, HRH The Princess Royal, was welcomed by Wirral Ark’s Chair, Father Robert Nelson MBE and Chief Executive, Aydin Djemal who took the royal visitor on a tour of the accommodation and facilities at Mary Cole House. The centre provides accommodation for up to 27 people and comprises a kitchen/dining room, a lounge, training room, chapel and communal garden.

During the tour, HRH The Princess Royal spoke to staff, who provide a range of support services at Mary Cole House, including palliative care, a nurse drop-in service for homeless people and a ‘controlled drinking environment’ which provides a safe place for those who would otherwise be drinking on the streets.

HRH The Princess Royal was also given the opportunity to meet some of the people who use Mary Cole House and to hear their personal experiences of how the centre had provided them with a vital source of shelter and support, before unveiling an official plaque to mark the reopening of Mary Cole House.

Commenting on the visit, Aydin Djemal, Chief Executive of Wirral Ark said, “We were honoured to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to officially re-open Mary Cole House, particularly given her long association with our facility. We were exceedingly proud to be able to showcase our newly enhanced building and accommodation to our very special guest and to give both our staff and some of the people who benefit from Mary Cole House the chance to meet HRH The Princess Royal and share their experiences with her.”

Paul Anson, Director of Business Growth at Magenta Living who was also introduced to HRH The Princess Royal at the event said, “This was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to HRH The Princess Royal the outstanding work that Wirral Ark deliver  for homeless people in our communities and to show the level of investment that has gone into ensuring the accommodation and facilities on offer at Mary Cole House are the very best they can be.”

Also in attendance at the event were a host of VIPs including the leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Pat Hackett; Chairman of Wirral Ark, Father Robert Nelson MBE; the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Tony Smith; the Mayoress of Wirral, Mrs Barbara Smith; Chief Executive of Wirral Council, Eric Robinson and Assistant Director of Development, Steven Eaves at Magenta Living.

Read more — 'HRH The Princess Royal Re-Opens Flagship Homeless Centre on Wirral '

Magenta Living Invests in Homegrown Project Manager Talent

Leading North West housing provider, Magenta Living has invested in an internal training programme designed to nurture home-grown project manager talent in its development team, as it rolls-out its largest ever affordable-home building programme.

By focusing on up-skilling existing employees and providing on-the-job training within its development team, Magenta Living is developing its own talent pool of future project managers, equipping employees with a range of in-demand capabilities and experience.

The approach has seen the development team take on colleagues from elsewhere in the business, as well as promoting within its own ranks. Former Income Officer, Lauren Huggon has taken up a Trainee Project Manager post, along with Annette Westwater who was previously a Development Assistant, and the development team plans to introduce further trainee roles in the near future.

Louise Edwards, previously a Project Manager in the team, has been promoted to Senior Project Manager. The internal appointments have been complemented by the recruitment of Carole Dowd who was previously with Your Housing Group and is also taking up a Senior Project Manager role.

The new influx of talent will support Magenta Living in delivering its current development programme, which will see it build more than 650 new homes in locations across the Wirral and wider North West by 2022, significantly expanding its geographical reach. The new properties will consist of a variety of tenures, with homes being built for rent, sale and shared ownership.

The housing provider also has ambitious plans to raise additional finance that will enable it to increase the size of its development programme to 2,270 new homes.

In Wirral the housing provider is working on several new developments, including schemes in Woodchurch, West Kirby, Eastham and Wallasey.

Other developments currently underway include Halton Court in Runcorn, where Magenta Living is building 71 homes, providing a mixture of shared ownership and affordable rent properties, and The Elephant in Shavington, a 45 home scheme with a mixture of affordable and shared ownership, ranging from one bedroom to four-bedroom properties.

Magenta Living Head of Development, John Siddell said, “Project management expertise is in high demand, both within our own organisation and across the property and construction industry but there is a shortage of experienced people available to fulfil those roles. By training up our own project management experts we are creating our own talent pool – a readily available resource that will enable us not only to deliver our current development programme as efficiently as possible but also to hit the ground running as and when we expand that programme. It’s also extremely important to Magenta Living, as an employer, that we invest in our people and give them a chance to learn new skills and enhance their career prospects.”

Lauren Huggon, Trainee Project Manager added, “This is a really exciting time to be part of Magenta Living’s development team, given the scale of the projects we’re undertaking. Being able to learn on the job means we are developing practical skills as well as theoretical ones and the senior members of the development team have been extremely supportive, giving us the time and insight we need to become fully rounded project managers.”

Magenta Living has a strong track record of investing in its people. It was recently re-awarded Investors in People (IIP) Gold status and is now pursuing Platinum status.

Read more — 'Magenta Living Invests in Homegrown Project Manager Talent'

Magenta Living Tenant, Board Director and local volunteer recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List

A long serving tenant and Board Director of Magenta Living and local volunteer, Muriel Wilkinson has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list.

Muriel was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to housing having been officially involved with Wirral based Magenta Living since 2005. Muriel became a Company Member in 2008 and was officially appointed to the Magenta Living Board in April 2013.

Muriel has many years experience of voluntary work in various communities and has also run her own business for many years. She is still an active member in her neighbourhood providing support and advice when needed to fellow tenants and residents. Muriel still arranges luncheon clubs and charity events where she lives, providing an opportunity for the community to come together.

Muriel is Chair of the Wirral Residents Umbrella Association, which was set up in September 2010. The Umbrella Association as it’s known, is an independent group of Magenta Living tenants and residents representing the neighbourhoods where they live. By chairing this group, it provides an opportunity for Muriel to have real knowledge and insight into the neighbourhood activities and provides a voice for those involved direct to Magenta Living’s Board.

Muriel said:

“I was absolutely delighted when I heard that I’d been awarded a BEM. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and honoured to have been recognised in this way. Volunteering and helping people is what I love doing and I’ll keep going until I have to retire! Working with Magenta Living is very fulfilling and I’m so glad that I’m able to contribute in some way.”

Muriel has recently been instrumental in helping develop and set up the Magenta Communities Committee. Magenta Communities oversees the delivery of activities which create social value in local neighbourhoods, something about which Muriel is very passionate.

Brian Simpson, Magenta Living Chief Executive said:

“I’m so pleased that Muriel has been recognised for her services to housing in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list. This is such a testament to Muriel’s service not only to Magenta Living but to her volunteering and community work too. Muriel is a fundamental part of our Board structure and continues to support our work within the neighbourhoods that we serve in.”

Read more — 'Magenta Living Tenant, Board Director and local volunteer recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List'

Working in Partnership to tackle Environmental Crimes across Wirral

A fly-tipper living in New Brighton was issued with a formal notice for breach of their Magenta Living tenancy and enforcement action is being taken by Wirral Borough Council (WBC) as the fly tipper dumped waste illegally on their land.

Paul Millward, Neighbourhood Housing Officer said: “Fly-tipping that blights our neighbourhoods is on the increase, it's expensive to remove and we will not tolerate our tenants or anybody dumping on our land and on WBC green open spaces. There is no excuse we already offer a subsidised waste removal service via our BERT Service to our tenants. This perpetrator, a Magenta Living tenant, is in double trouble as their tenancy has been affected and they will receive a fixed penalty notice from WBC as well, so they will definitely think twice before fly tipping again."

Karen Lear, Environmental Services Team Leader said: “I am delighted we have a result with this individual. Wirral rate and rent payers should not have to fund people who are too lazy to dispose of their waste properly. Partnership working is the way forward, we can’t tackle this issue alone so we are pooling our resources and using whatever means we can whether that be CCTV, local intelligence or our innovative Trash Tracker approach.

"My Trash Tracker Officers visit each fly tipping incident and cordon it off as an environmental crime scene. They use various CSI detection methods to obtain information. As well as gathering evidence, the Environmental Crime Team also engages with residents in the area providing information and advice regarding the correct use and disposal of waste. This approach has been 90% effective with the majority of residents taking back their waste and either booking the BERT service or taking it to the tip themselves. The rest of the fly-tippers are being dealt with through either enforcement or fixed penalty notices with the risk of being named in the local press too. Partnership working along with our communities is key if we are going to stop fly-tippers and keep our neighbourhoods clean and safe.

If you want to find out more about Trash Tracker please contact Karen Lear, Environmental Services Team Leader on 0808 100 9596.

Read more — 'Working in Partnership to tackle Environmental Crimes across Wirral'

Magenta Living Praises the Volunteers Helping to Shape Wirral Communities

Tenant-led volunteering projects aimed at strengthening communities across Wirral have been showcased at a special event hosted by leading housing provider, Magenta Living.

The Connecting Communities event, which took place at Tranmere Rovers Football Club, was designed as a thank you to the many tenants and residents who volunteer and help deliver community initiatives and shape the housing provider’s community regeneration agenda.The event gave tenants and residents a platform to highlight the broad variety of volunteer projects they’re involved with that help make their neighbourhoods better places to live.

Magenta Living has representatives from across each of its 22 neighbourhoods, which it engages with on a regular basis to gain feedback and neighbourhood improvement ideas. The housing provider also takes steer from the ‘Wirral Residents Umbrella Association’, which comprises volunteer tenant and resident representatives from across its neighbourhoods.

Those attending the Connecting Communities event heard from Magenta Living Board Director, Muriel Wilkinson, who is also Chair of the Wirral Residents Umbrella Association and a Magenta Living tenant. Muriel explained the Umbrella Association’s role in influencing Magenta Living decision making, and encouraged others to empower themselves and promote the interests of their neighbourhoods by joining the group.

A series of short films was also used to tell the story of individuals and groups of volunteers who are delivering successful projects in their neighbourhoods and helping to support the more vulnerable members of their communities. These range from free luncheon clubs and knit and natter groups to help tackle social isolation, ‘social supermarkets’ to help address food poverty, stay and play sessions for children, counselling services, smoking cessation support, youth groups and confidence building classes.

Many of the volunteering projects and schemes highlighted are based out of Magenta Living community properties. The housing provider currently owns, manages and maintains 13 community properties in Wirral, which provide a venue for dozens of local community groups, who offer hundreds of activities to local residents every week.

Magenta Living Chief Executive, Brian Simpson who spoke at the event said, “Engaging with residents and tenants through forums like Connecting Communities is a central part of our vision to support vibrant homes, lives and neighbourhoods. We are committed to working closely with all of our volunteer groups to help bring about positive change and deliver social value in communities. By coming together and sharing ideas – talking about some of the amazing things happening out there, we can help to plant the seeds of new community initiatives that will enhance people’s lives and help tackle some of the challenges communities face today.”

Read more — 'Magenta Living Praises the Volunteers Helping to Shape Wirral Communities'

Official Name Change

From Monday 1 April 2019, we have officially changed our name from ‘Wirral Partnership Homes trading as Magenta Living’ to ‘Magenta Living’. All other details such as our address and contact methods will remain the same.

 

Read more — 'Official Name Change'

Together with Tenants - The NHF want your feedback

The National Housing Federation has developed a draft plan for strengthening the relationship between housing associations and their tenants and residents – and they want your feedback! 

The ambition of Together with Tenants is to strengthen the relationship between housing associations and their tenants and residents.

Following a large number of conversations, workshops and meetings with members, tenants, residents and stakeholders, the National Housing Federation have developed a four-point plan for delivering this an ambition. The four actions are:

  1. A new requirement in our Code of Governance for boards to be accountable to their tenants and residents.
  2. A new charter setting out what tenants and residents can expect from their housing association landlord.
  3. Tenant and resident oversight and scrutiny of the charter with a report on how their landlord is doing against charter commitments.
  4. A closer link with regulation.
     

View the four-point draft plan here: Together_with_Tenants_draft_plan[pdf] 199KB

Together with Tenants Image


How to provide feedback

If you are a housing association tenant or resident, there are four ways you can share your feedback:

The table below also provides an overview of what our four-point plan means for tenants and residents.
Action What it means
1. A new requirement in the National Housing Federation Code of Governance for boards to be accountable to their tenants and residents Your landlord’s board would agree to be as accountable as possible to all residents and tenants
2. A new Together with Tenants Charter Your landlord would set out, in a clear and publicly available document, what you can expect from them
3. Tenant and resident oversight and scrutiny of the Charter Tenants and residents can publicly report on how your landlord is doing
4. A closer link with regulation Tenants and residents oversight of the charter can provide useful evidence to the regulator about whether your landlord is compliant with the consumer standards

 

Read more — 'Together with Tenants - The NHF want your feedback'

Year of Environment Event 2019

Magenta Living Environmental Services were delighted to be invited to take part in the launch Wirral’s Year of Environment 2019 Event at the Floral Pavilion hosted by Wirral Council.

The team in partnership with Lyn Struve, Eco Schools Officer at Wirral Council and Katrina Chapman from Urban Vintage were proud to showcase their upcycling Project Refresh in the market place. Many residents and agencies attended and were keen to find out more about Refresh as upcycling is high on the green agenda doing everything possible to keep waste from going to landfill and to end poverty. The aim is to ensure Refresh is the inspirational upcycling model in the heart of communities that will become standard practice to minimise waste by upcycling and provide residents with renovated and refreshed furniture helping those in need.

Upcycled chair from Refresh project

Councillors Patrick Cleary and Anita Leech are fully behind Refresh. Councillor Leech Wirral’s Cabinet Lead for Environment said: “I’m so excited about Refresh I want this to be the flagship of Wirral’s Upcycling initiative. I’m keen to demonstrate to other Housing Providers who dispose of waste to landfill what Magenta Living and Wirral Council have been doing in partnership. This project is fabulous and we want more partners involved. I’ve seen how creative volunteers have been in turning old furniture into new, its amazing what can be done with a paint brush and a bit of imagination. It’s vital that we all play our part in enjoying and nurturing the environment not just for us but for future generations. Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste going to landfill but action to change needs a co-ordinated response we can’t do it alone."

Maureen Davies, Environmental Services Manager said: “It was great to attend the Year of the Environment on behalf of Magenta Living I’m thrilled that we have the backing of so many with the Refresh initiative. In 2018 just my service alone disposed of 180 tonnes of waste to landfill, £40K was spent which is money that could have been used for many other community projects.  Although we provide affordable homes our ethos has always been about putting our people and communities first so protecting the environment is essential.

"Our next step is to source Refresh shop premises so we can take our waste to volunteers to upcycle the furniture and then our communities can have it instead of getting into unnecessary debt. So many people want to get involved it’s exciting to be part of Refresh, Re-jiggery are keen to run recycling workshops too. I was well impressed how they turned an old chair and suit into a quirky piece of furniture anybody would be proud to own."

Read more — 'Year of Environment Event 2019'

Magenta Living Scoops Coveted Health and Wellbeing Award

A dedicated two year programme focusing on the promotion of wellness in the workplace has resulted in a coveted Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Best Practice award for Magenta Living.

The not-for-profit housing association, which is the largest provider of social housing in  Wirral and currently employs 535 staff mostly from the local area, has received the award in recognition of its investment into the health and wellbeing of its employees.

The award, which focuses on all aspects of wellbeing, including physical, psychological and social, comes following the implementation of a strategic project managed health and wellbeing approach at the organisation. Initiatives that have helped to secure the award and support the health and wellbeing of Magenta Living’s workforce include, sessions on smoking cessation and sleep support, the introduction of a dedicated and affordable on-site gym  as well as the creation of a chill-out room, where employees can benefit from mindfulness, breathing and relaxation classes.

Magenta Living’s leadership team has taken an active role in the programme, hosting regular lunchtime walks for staff, where individuals can chat and socialise with colleagues, while stretching their legs.

Nutrition and healthy eating is another key theme of Magenta Living’s wellbeing approach. The business hosts a regular Foodie Friday event, which see members of the executive team serve up a nutritionally balanced meal to staff at a cost of just £2. The meals are provided by catering students from Wirral Metropolitan College, who use the occasion to sharpen their corporate hospitality skills. In addition to this, employees have been given access to nutritional advice and awareness sessions.

Magenta Living has also supported the health of its outdoor workers by raising awareness of sun safety and skin cancer. It was the the first business to sign up to the Outdoor Workers Pledge from Public Health Liverpool and North West Cancer Research, which encourages employers to promote the use of sun protection and  provide protective clothing and sunscreen, as well as raise awareness of the symptoms of skin cancer and the importance of early diagnosis with employees.

Joanne Francom, Magenta Living’s Assistant Director of HR and Organisational Development said, “The health and wellbeing of our employees is of paramount importance to our values as an employer. A healthy work/life balance comes high on the wish-list of many of today’s employees and we want to help people achieve this.

“We place equal importance on physical and mental wellbeing and are committed to tackling the modern workplace stress epidemic by ensuring a supportive culture where people are encouraged to be open and to look after each other. We’ve recently introduced a team of mental-health first-aiders, members of staff who are trained to recognise the triggers and signs of mental health issues, to step in and provide reassurance and non-judgemental listening to colleagues in distress and to sign-post individuals to further sources of support.”

“Achieving the Investors In People Health and Wellbeing Good Practice Award is a fantastic achievement for Magenta Living and we hope to build on our success even further in future but, more importantly, we want to nurture a culture that will support physical and mental well-being for all of our employees for a long time to come. We know that the continued provision of excellent services that we pride ourselves on at Magenta Living relies on having a healthy, happy workforce.

“In 2019 we’ll be working hard to improve on what we’ve delivered so far and have plans for more wellness-focused initiatives, including staff hiking trips to Snowdonia and the Lake District, additional sleep awareness sessions and a health and wellbeing themed annual staff conference with activities to suit all abilities, including an employee five-a-side tournament. Our five-a-side events have been a real success story in terms of participation, with around 10% of employees getting involved. We’re also thinking about how we can broaden the provision of some of our classes and advice sessions, to build them into the wide variety of initiatives we already deliver to help improve wellbeing for our tenants. We use wellbeing valuation to measure the social value of Magenta Living’s work in neighbourhoods, and this is a really important metric of success to us.”

Backed by the Department of Health, Investors in People worked with more than 400 organisations to develop and pilot the framework for the Health and Wellbeing Best Practice Award. To secure the award, businesses have to undergo a rigorous evidence-based review process. Magenta Living achieved an ‘advanced’ score against each of the key award criteria, the highest score possible during the assessment.

In addition to winning the Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Best Practice Award, Magenta Living also retained its Investors in People Gold standard.  The Gold standard is awarded to less than a fifth of UK organisations and is widely recognised as an accomplishment of world-class best practice in people management and development. Following on from this achievement, Magenta Living now plans to pursue the Investors in People Platinum standard.

Read more — 'Magenta Living Scoops Coveted Health and Wellbeing Award'

Sensory Garden at Heart of Magenta Living’s First Extra Care Scheme in Wirral

A sensory garden designed to improve quality of life for people with dementia is just one of the features being developed at Barncroft, Magenta Living’s first Extra Care Scheme in Wirral, which is now under construction.

Work has started on site at the £3.4 million development in Pensby, the first dedicated independent living scheme for over 55s to be built in the Wirral by Magenta Living, the borough’s largest registered housing provider.

Magenta Living launched its Extra Care offer in 2017 with the completion of its multi-million pound Hartley Place facility in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

The housing provider’s new Wirral-based Extra Care scheme will help to address demand for high-quality over 55s accomodation in the borough and is part of Magenta Living’s ongoing bid to broaden its customer offer and meet a variety of supported, affordable and social housing needs in the local area.

Construction is also underway on an over 55s apartment development at Magenta Living’s Clifton Avenue site in Eastham, following the demolition of a vacant block of flats. The flats will be replaced by a new mixed tenure scheme, comprising shared ownership houses and homes for rent in addition to the over 55s housing.

The Barncroft Extra Care scheme in Pensby, which is being built by Anwyl Construction, will feature a range of communal spaces and facilities to help combat social isolation and support well-being for residents. Along with 21 individual apartments and the sensory garden, the independent living community will include a shared lounge, an assisted bathroom and a garden room. Residents will benefit from a range of 24 hour on-site support services, with flexible care packages available to suit individual needs. The scheme has been designed by Manchester-based Pozzoni, an architecture practice with specialist experience in the creation of dementia care environments.

John Siddell, Head of Development at Magenta Living said, “These latest developments underline our strategic goal of building new homes, as well as investing in our current housing stock. We’re working hard to meet a variety of housing needs across the Wirral and beyond, and catering to the needs of people over 55 is a key focus for us.

“As we deal with the challenges posed by an ageing population, it will become increasingly important to have high-quality supported housing developments like Barncroft available. And, it’s essential to ensure that newly created communities- like the one we’re developing at Clifton Avenue in Eastham, support a broad spectrum of ages, to help promote social inclusion and limit the risk of loneliness – a growing concern amongst the older population. Above all, Magenta Living is committed to supporting vibrant homes, lives and neighbourhoods, and we know our new schemes will achieve all of these things.”

Magenta Living is a not-for-profit housing provider, owning and managing nearly 13,000 properties. The organisation has invested over £200 million in its properties over recent years and has ambitious plans to build over 2,000 new properties for rent and outright sale over the next five years.

Read more — 'Sensory Garden at Heart of Magenta Living’s First Extra Care Scheme in Wirral '
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