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Have your say on Wirral Council's Leisure services

Wirral Council are asking for your views to inform their Sport and Physical Activity Strategy, to ensure they are making activity accessible for all as well as providing the right activities, at the right place and at the right time for Wirral residents.

Whether you need support getting active, or already enjoy gardening, riding a bike, walking or taking part in sports, you can share your thoughts about what is most important for you.

You can have your say here: https://haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk/hub-page/sport-and-physical-activity-engagement

Read more — 'Have your say on Wirral Council's Leisure services'

Important information about Post Office Accounts

Important update:

From November 2021, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will stop making payments, including Universal Credit, tax credits or your state pension, into Post Office Accounts. The DWP will be sending out letters to everyone who will be affected over the coming months, explaining what your next steps are.

 

Here are some things you need to know:

  • Your benefits or state pension payments will not stop, and your payment dates will not change. The only change is that you will no longer be able to use a Post Office account to draw out your money.
  • You will still get your payments but you will have to access to a bank account to draw out your money.
  • You have until November 2021 or before ideally to open a new bank account.
  •  When you have opened your new bank account you should inform DWP (or HMRC) and provide them with your new bank account details. You call DWP (or HMRC) on 0800 085 7133 or by post if you have received the letter from DWP or HMRC.
  • If you need help applying for a bank account online you might want to ask a trusted friend or family member,  the process should be straightforward enough so you can take your time and do it yourself if you prefer.

 

If you require further information about your Post Office card account closing, please head over to the Money Advice Service by clicking the link: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/what-to-do-now-your-post-office-card-account-is-closing.

Alternatively, if you would like any further help or guidance from Magenta Living, you can contact our Financial Inclusion Team on 08081009596 or email them at financialinclusionteam@magentaliving.org.uk

Read more — 'Important information about Post Office Accounts'

Brian Simpson pledge

National Social Housing Safety and Compliance Week

Magenta Living are supporting the first annual National Social Housing Safety and Compliance Week, led by the Association of Safety and Compliance Professionals (ASCP), in association with CORGI.

Running from Monday 21st June to Friday 25th June, the campaign is aimed at raising standards in safety, compliance, learning, competence and collaboration for a safer future for social housing. Whilst changing-up the national conversation around social housing safety and compliance with landlords, residents, government, and suppliers.

Magenta Living’s Executive and Senior Leadership Teams have made pledges to their staff and our customers that will support building a safer future for social housing as a whole.

Read of our pledges below... 

Brian Simpson Safety Pledge
Brian Simpson, Chief Executive

“I pledge to remember that safety must be a core value that needs to be lived by each of us and which is at the forefront of our minds every day. For the sake of Grenfell and tragedies in the past and to ensure we never have such tragic events in the future…”  
 

 

 

Jayne Winders Safety Pledge

 

Jayne Winders, Executive Director of Customer Experience

“I pledge to change: I pledge to drive a culture of openness and welcome feedback, even though it may be difficult to receive”
 

 

 

Paul Anson Safety Pledge

 

Paul Anson, Executive Director of Business Growth and Development

“I pledge to educate: I pledge to offer training/coaching to colleagues or to educate myself in a particular aspect of safety/compliance or culture”
 

 

 

Ian Thomson Safety Pledge

 

Ian Thomson, Executive Director of Asset Management

“I pledge to listen: I pledge to listen to my colleagues, my team, contractors, suppliers and residents and take action where needed to keep our people safe”
 

 

 

Ann Monk Safety Pledge

 

Ann Monk, Executive Director of Finance

“I pledge to be pro-active: I pledge to never accept the status quo and always be pressing for better resources, training, competences in our organisation”
 

 

 

Mark Armstrong Safety Pledge

 

Mark Armstrong, Assistant Director of Strategy and Regeneration

“I pledge to communicate: I pledge to improve resident engagement by listening to their concerns, encouraging access and taking action”

 

 


Our changes for today... 

  • Commit to listening to the concerns of others, acting on and escalating where appropriate
  • Providing healthy challenge on matters of safety and compliance
  • Seeking out bad news and exceptional items to uncover potential dangers
  • Asking the safety and compliance teams where they need support or feel the biggest risks to safety are on a regular and informal basis

Our changes for tomorrow... 

  • Developing channels to improve resident engagement
  • Committed to working with others to share best practice
  • Better using our social media channels to communicate with residents about the importance of access

If you would like to read more about the National Social Housing Safety and Compliance campaign click here.

Read more — 'National Social Housing Safety and Compliance Week'

IFF Research - Independent Survey

At Magenta Living, we are keen to deliver the best possible service to our residents.

 

To help us do this we are working with a market research company called IFF Research.

 

IFF may contact you to find out what you think of us. They will ask questions around how you think we are doing as a landlord or about the services we provide you.

If you get a call, it will be from a London area code – 0208 049 5766.

 

Taking part in the survey is completely voluntary, but we do encourage you to give us your feedback so that we can use the results to improve the services that we provide.

 

The responses from the survey will not be shared with any other organisation or used for marketing purposes. The responses are treated in the strictest of confidence and responses will be treated anonymously.

 

Why is Magenta Living doing satisfaction surveys?

We want to improve services to tenants.  We want to get sight of the things we get wrong and do more of the things we get right.

 

Who is IFF Research?

IFF currently complete all/some transactional (e.g., repairs, gas servicing, adaptations)/perception/satisfaction telephone surveys on behalf of Magenta Living. 

 

IFF Research is a member of the Market Research Society, so they are bound under a strict code of conduct. IFF won’t ever ask for financial information or try to sell anything.
 

Further information about the company can be found by visiting their website: http://www.iffresearch.co

Read more — 'IFF Research - Independent Survey'

Magenta Living Supports NHF's Pledge

Magenta Living supports the National Housing Federation’s pledge; customers engaging with us to get their rent payments back on track will not be evicted from their home due to financial hardship.

 

During the pandemic, Magenta Living’s Income Team helped 37 customers sustain their tenancies by having open, honest conversations. Working together, customers entered into arrangements that helped reduce their arrears. Regular contact is so important as this allows strong relationships to be built between customers and our Income Team to achieve the desired outcome of sustainability. 

 

We urge any customers to please get in touch with us if they are struggling to pay their rent. Our Income Team are here to discuss their individual situation and to help provide a suitable solution.

Read more — 'Magenta Living Supports NHF's Pledge'

From a Tip to a ‘Tip Top’ Green Hub

After months of lobbying at networking by Maureen Davies, Environmental Services Manager and Steve Owens, Neighbourhood Housing Officer, the council-owned derelict allotment site on Tollemache Road has finally been brought back to life again.

For years the site has been a grot spot for litter and fly-tipping, attracting rats and mice. Many of our residents back on to the site and were appealing for help to do something with the allotment.

Following many virtual and safe site meetings, it was agreed to turn the site into a green hub and community allotment.

Naomi Graham from Wirral Environmental Network (WEN), Lynne Struve, Eco Schools Officer at Wirral Council, Environmental Services, Tree Wardens, Wirral Wildlife and community volunteers have worked extremely hard to clear the site to use it as a green hub. Volunteers will be able to learn how to grow on seedlings, make compost and successfully grow fruit, all with the help of Wirral Tree Wardens.

The Green Hub will also be used to grow trees provided by the Woodland Trust to combat climate change. Many native trees offer beautiful flowers and colourful fruits and are vital havens for wildlife. Long-living trees like maple trees and oaks are extremely effective at storing carbon dioxide.

Peter Holleran, Voids Clearance and Cleaning Supervisor said: “I’ve only been with Magenta Living for a few weeks, coming from a manufacturing background and it’s all been a real culture shock. I had no idea that Magenta Living does so much to tackle climate change and the many other initiatives like Refresh, the furniture reuse scheme and now this fabulous green hub. It’s great to be involved with so many dedicated people who want to make a difference. I’m loving the job variety and looking forward to getting involved in many more climate change projects in the future.”

If you want to get involved with the Green Hub at Tollemache Road, Birkenhead, to help tackle climate change and make friends over a brew, please contact Wirral Environment Network by emailing wen@la21.net

Read more — 'From a Tip to a ‘Tip Top’ Green Hub'

Magenta Living recognised once again with Customer Service Excellence accreditation!

Magenta Living has once again been recognised in achieving the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation against the standards set by The Centre for Assessment, in accordance with the requirements of the Cabinet Office’s Customer Service Excellence Standard.

The CSE quality mark aims to make a real difference to service users by encouraging organisations to focus on their individual needs and preferences. The five criteria of Customer Service Excellence that we were assessed against are: Customer Insight; The Culture of the Organisation; Information and Access; Delivery and Timeliness and Quality of Service.


Over three days the assessor considered our application against the five criteria and the 57 sub-criteria. They held focus groups with customers, colleagues and partner organisations and as a result, they were satisfied that we met the standard. In two areas Magenta Living’s services were found to be meet the ‘Compliance Plus’ standard. This is only awarded where it is proven that we have taken additional steps to provide truly excellent services to our customers. The areas identified are:
 

  • Supporting our community through Covid-19: We developed coordinated working arrangements with our partners that ensure customers have clear lines of accountability for the quality of service.
  • New complaints handling process – training and communication: We give colleagues training and guidance to handle complaints and to investigate them objectively and we can demonstrate that we empower colleagues to put things right.


Magenta Living has successfully maintained this standard since February 2012 and following this comprehensive assessment, our current certificate is now effective until February 2024 with annual surveillance visits due to take place until then.


Brian Simpson, Chief Executive of Magenta Living, said:
"This is yet again a great example demonstrating that we put our customers at the heart of what we do and contributes to us in delivering to The Magenta Way, our transformation programme. Thank you to all customers, colleagues and partners who supported us, helping to achieve this accreditation."

Read more — 'Magenta Living recognised once again with Customer Service Excellence accreditation!'

Solid foundations in place for major housing scheme

Construction work at Halton Court, a 119-unit residential scheme in Runcorn being delivered by Anwyl Partnerships, is making solid progress with the main drainage infrastructure and central spine road now in place, paving the way for further progress.
 

Anwyl Partnerships took over the contract, in partnership with Magenta Living and Onward Homes, following the appointment of administrators by Cruden Construction. The Anwyl team has worked collaboratively with both housing associations to address and rectify a series of critical design, planning and construction issues since work resumed at the site in November 2020.
 

The development includes a mix of two, three-and four-bedroom homes in a community which has been identified as needing a boost to the supply of homes available for shared ownership and affordable rent.
 

Tom Anwyl, Managing Director of Anwyl Partnerships explained:

“It is inevitably challenging taking over a site where work is partly completed by another contractor.  However, we are now at a place where the majority of the legacy issues have been addressed, allowing us to progress with our programme to complete the works by October 2022.
 

“We’ve had an excellent start to the project, and despite the challenges associated with lockdown, we are making strong progress. As well as construction of the central access road, we have begun to build all essential retaining walls across the site. This collaborative progress has been made whilst remaining true to our partnerships ethos, which will continue to be the key to success with this scheme.”


Brian Simpson, Chief Executive of Magenta Living said:

“I am really pleased with the progress at Halton Court, especially as the development was delayed at the beginning and due to the Covid restrictions. Anwyl Partnerships have really picked up the pace with the development which is reflected in the progress to date. I’m really looking forward to seeing this project advance further with the ultimate goal of providing much needed affordable housing within the local area.”
 

Sandy Livingstone, Executive Director of Property at Onward, said: “Onward’s priority is delivering high quality affordable homes. We are working hard to achieve this with our partners Magenta Living and Anwyl Partnerships. We’re really pleased with the progress Anwyl is making on this site, they have made a positive impact. I look forward to welcoming our customers into their new homes in 2022.” 

Bridge View will offer a range of three and four-bedroom homes for shared ownership, ideal for local people looking to get a foot on the property ladder. A show home will be available for viewings from summer 2021 and all of the properties, including those for Magenta Living, will be sold by Onward’s sales arm, Onward Living. For more information visit www.onward-living.co.uk

Read more — 'Solid foundations in place for major housing scheme'

New arrangements for crisis food support announced as Wirral’s Emergency Food Hub prepares to close its doors

Wirral’s emergency food support arrangements will change next week as the Government’s shielding programme comes to an end.
 

Almost 3.8 million clinically extremely vulnerable people in England (those deemed to be most at risk from COVID-19) are currently being contacted by the Government to say they are no longer advised to shield from Thursday 1 April. 


In response to the national changes - and reflecting the fact that demand for food support has now reduced to such an extent that a more ‘normal’ way of doing things is now possible - Wirral Council is changing the way emergency support is provided to those who need it.


On Friday 26th March the Emergency Food Hub, which was re-established in January in response to the latest national lockdown, a partnership between Wirral Council and Wirral Foodbank, will be disbanded as a physical entity and alternative arrangements put in place. 


From Monday 29 March people in crisis and unable to pay for the food they need will be asked to call the Coronavirus Helpline on 0151 666 5050 or Citizens Advice Wirral on freephone 0808 278 7848, where they will be asked a few questions to assess their situation. If their application is successful, they will be issued with an electronic voucher which can be exchanged for a 3-day supply of essential food items at  Wirral Foodbank Centres across Wirral.  Full details of the sites will be available www.wirral.foodbank.org.uk from Monday 29th March. 


Requests for emergency financial support for households in financial crisis, who have specialist food needs due to  medical, religious or cultural reasons, should be made via the Coronavirus Helpline or online at www.wirral.gov.uk/foodhelp


People who are self-isolating and unable to leave home, who cannot pay for the food they need,  can request a delivery of an emergency food hamper if they are unable to make alternative arrangements.


Emergency support will be provided to help people in crisis situations over weekends and the Easter Bank Holiday by calling the Coronavirus Helpline (0151 666 5050). 


Anyone who applies for emergency financial support with food will be offered support from Citizens Advice Wirral, which will include a review of their situation, including a benefits check, debt advice and training and employment guidance as needed.

 
Wirral Council leader, Cllr Janette Williamson, said: 

“Wirral’s Emergency Food Hub has provided a vital lifeline for thousands of local people over a large part of the past year. In that time it has arranged, packed and delivered almost 20,000 hampers to vulnerable residents.

“Local partners, including Wirral Foodbank, Neo Community , Involve Northwest, Citizens Advice Wirral, Rapid Response North West, Age UK Wirral, Prima Housing, Wirral Development Trust, Tranmere Rovers Football Club, Gautby Road Community Centre and Wirral Change, came forward and worked in partnership like never before in a truly monumental effort.  A significant number of community-based groups and organisations have also joined this collective effort, providing food, meals and discounted food, to help those in need across the borough.

“To all their volunteers and staff - and to all the staff re-deployed from other Council services – I say a huge thank you on behalf of the Council. Your hard work and generosity really did help to ensure that local people didn’t go hungry because of the Pandemic.”


Those who still need help but can afford to pay for their food will also be signposted to other sources of help that remain available. These include:

  • Wirral Infobank – wirralinfobank.co.uk – an online directory where Wirral residents can find local community support services, including food providers and delivery options and social supermarkets, help getting medication, and advice and information
  • Priority online supermarket delivery slots through Iceland and Tesco
  • Supported shopping via Rapid Response North West and Age UK 


Wirral Foodbank’s general manager, Richard Roberts, said:

 “Wirral Foodbank is proud to have been part of the incredible effort to help so many local people get through the past year. And just as we were there to help vulnerable people before the Pandemic, we will continue to be there to help those in need as we hopefully move towards its end and beyond.  We can only continue to do this through the support of our incredible volunteers and the generosity of all who donate to Wirral Foodbank; thank you to you all.

“So please help us continue this vital work by donating an item or two at one of our collection points at supermarkets across Wirral or by donating online at www.wirral.foodbank.org.uk.”

Read more — 'New arrangements for crisis food support announced as Wirral’s Emergency Food Hub prepares to close its doors'

Community Insight - In conversation with Sally Ross

Ever wondered what information we can find out about our neighbourhoods? Got an idea for a project you want to try in one area, but don't know where to choose? That's how Sally Ross, our Community Regeneration Lead Officer, felt when she was planning a project to engage young people at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and linking them to Tranmere Rovers in the Community to gain qualifications and work experience.

Most can list at least a dozen areas where there might be an issue with youth unemployment and Sally needed to identify 5 or 6 places to target for this project. Sally sat down with Mark Richmond, Head of Data and Performance, and gathered key data from Community Insight - looking for neighbourhoods where there was a high level of youth unemployment and a lot of young people living in our properties. It worked - they had 6 neighbourhoods, Tranmere Rovers in the Community engaged young people from those areas and they all went on to further training or got jobs with TRFC - including one who went on to play for their ladies team.

Fast forward 2 years and Sally put this as an example of how she'd used Community Insight on a survey being carried out by HACT, who got in touch to ask for more information. One interview later and she became a published example of good practice!

If you'd like to read what Sally said then you can read her interview below... 

 

How do you use Community Insight in your work?

In my role as Community Engagement Lead Officer here at Magenta Living, the biggest provider of affordable housing in Wirral, I tend to use Community Insight for work around employment and skills.

 

Have you used the tool for a particular project?

Community Insight was especially useful for a project we delivered with Tranmere Rovers Football Club around youth unemployment. The pot of funding we used for delivering the project was a legacy fund that came through one of our contractors. The project involved identifying 12 young people to help. Since the Wirral is a diverse borough, this was a challenge.

Some parts of the Wirral are affluent, where kids have lots of opportunities and supportive parents who can link them up with work experience. In other areas, young people lack those support networks because their parents may not work and there is a lack of positive role models. Those more deprived areas are where our neighbourhoods tend to be located. But even within our neighbourhoods we know that there are huge variants in levels of youth unemployment.

The picture is complex, so we looked to data on Community Insight for help. The tool gave us vital local insights on NEET levels, youth unemployment levels, the unemployment of young adults, and let us compare that information against the number of young people living in our properties. Using that data, we were able to narrow down our selection to six priority neighbourhoods that all had large concentrations of young people and high percentages of youth unemployment.

 

What was the biggest benefit to using Community Insight on this project?

Community Insight was important in justifying our decisions about why we focused on some areas and not on others. There’s one area in Wirral which has a strong community voice and high levels of tenant and resident involvement. It would have been easy for us to decide to spend money there to make those residents happy.

Community Insight gave us an objective basis to show that the area wasn’t a right fit for this project. To that community, we were able to say: it’s not that we don’t think you deserve this project, it’s that the data shows young people in other areas need it more. Community Insight gives me the facts and figures to back up those decisions, to the Board and to our communities.

 

What ways has Community Insight been helpful to thinking about the socio-economic profiles of your areas?

We know our neighbourhoods and the areas in which we work, but Community Insight gives us the evidence we need to back up anecdotal knowledge. With the youth unemployment project, the tool let us say to our partners: we want you to recruit young people from these six specific areas and here’s why.

It takes effort to reach those young people who we know would benefit most from a project like this, but you’ll have a much bigger impact if you do. Community Insight made that selection process a lot simpler and quicker.

 

Other ways you use Community Insight?

I also use the employment data on Community Insight to help plan publicity campaigns.

The data on the map is useful in showing where large numbers of our working age population reside, as well as where unemployment rates are high. Within those areas I then look at where there are community spaces like libraries and doctors’ surgeries. I have used that information to know where to put posters and distribute information.

We’re also involved in a project with Communities that Work and the Learning and Work Institute. The data they’ve been asking us for is data that I’ve found on Community Insight. We’re looking at developing some pilots and need to decide where we want to run those. I’ve been using the employment data from Community Insight to determine where I think those pilots should happen.

Read more — 'Community Insight - In conversation with Sally Ross'

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