Bethany Whittle, Author at believe housing

special edition now available

Author Archives: Bethany Whittle

special edition now available

A special edition of believe housing’s online magazine providing information and advice for customers during the coronavirus situation has been published.

The latest issue of ‘believe housing news’ is available now here and features full details on how the County Durham-based housing association is working to keep customers safe during the outbreak. The magazine is also full of advice for anyone who finds themselves struggling during these uncertain times, particularly with their finances.

This edition also covers changes to believe housing’s repairs service during the coronavirus outbreak to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.

Marketing and Communications Manager at believe housing, Victoria Thompson, said: “We’re living in unprecedented times, but we are doing everything we can to help our customers and keep everyone as safe as possible. I’d urge residents to take a look and make sure they have all the information that’s available.”

The magazine is fully responsive and can be easily read on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

important customer notice

Due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) situation, we will only be handling essential repairs requests until further notice.

From today, (Monday, 23 March) we have suspended the self-appointing repairs section of our customer app to enable our operatives to prioritise essential repairs requests.

Essential repairs are any defects that put the health, safety or security of properties, customers or anyone else at immediate risk.

They include:

  • total loss of electrical power and lighting
  • total loss of water
  • total loss of Heating
  • serious water leak
  • dangerous structure
  • blocked flue on an open fire
  • serious sewerage fault
  • insecure external windows and doors

Urgent repairs, for example contained leaks, will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

Our operatives will only attend essential repairs and compliance related gas servicing and electrical inspections work.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

To report an essential repair please call 0300 1311 999.

We also ask if you could refrain from reporting non-essential works at the current time.  We will notify you as soon as possible to let you know when services are back to normal.

Any non-essential repairs that are currently booked in will be cancelled, and you will be notified if this applies to you.

Please be assured that any non-essential appointments due to take place will be rescheduled as soon as possible and will be carried out when it is safe, and/or we are able to complete them.

We will communicate any changes to customers as soon as possible.

Please visit our coronavirus (Covid-19) page for more information about the measures we are taking minimise the spread of the virus.

high volume of calls

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we are currently experiencing a higher than normal volume of calls to our customer service contact centre.

We are dealing with your enquiries as quickly as possible but please bear with us during this time.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

If you’re calling to report a repair, you can now do this through our app, just visit the App Store or Google Play Store and search for believe housing. You can also report a repair using our online form here.

Please visit our Coronavirus (Covid-19) page for more information about the measures we are taking minimise the spread of the virus.

innovative new homes pass 100 mark

A major investment project designed to help more north east families onto the property ladder is celebrating the completion of its 100th home.

A three-bedroom house in Seaham has helped the innovative m!ne ‘Rent to Buy’ programme hit its century of new affordable family homes. The house is one of the 30 m!ne homes being constructed on the Heathway Heights development in Parkside, Seaham.

Homes have already been completed by m!ne at locations including Stockton, Browney and Bowburn, with sites in Chilton, Murton and Peterlee currently underway. m!ne is the Rent to Buy arm of County Durham-based housing association believe housing.

The government backed Rent to Buy scheme is designed to bridge the gap between renting and traditional home ownership. Customers pay a reduced rent, usually around 20% less than they’d pay in the private sector, to allow them to save for a deposit. They have the option to buy their homes after five years, giving an affordable route to ownership.

The project has received funding through Homes England’s Shared Ownership and Affordable Housing Programme, which has provided grant funding for 208 of the new homes.

The m!ne homes are part of plans by believe housing to deliver more than 700 affordable new-build homes across the region. The £70m scheme is supporting hundreds of job and apprenticeship opportunities for local people during construction. Around 250 of the 700 homes are set to be offered through m!ne Rent to Buy.

Tom Winter, Development Manager at believe housing, said: “The completion of our 100th Rent to Buy home is a real milestone. It’s not about the bricks and mortar though, the really important thing is that we’re helping 100 families into a new, secure and, most importantly, affordable home.

“Many of the people we’ve helped simply wouldn’t be able to think about buying their own home through other methods. Our goal is to help more people into secure and affordable properties, whether that’s through traditional low-cost rent or through schemes like Rent to Buy.”

Reservations are open now for several m!ne sites. More information is available here.

Reservations are being handled by urban base land & new homes. Jan Dale, Director, said: “Our property team have had the enormous pleasure of going on this journey with believe housing launching the new m!ne product, securing 100 new tenancies in recent months on the Rent to Buy scheme.

“The feedback from the housing market trying to get a step on the housing ladder has been wonderful, with tears of joy from many who thought they could never save to own their dream home, and m!ne has now made this possible. This has to be one of the very best housing initiatives by the government in recent decades, and combined with the quality product of believe housing it is excellent news for our region.”

Housing association publishes latest magazine

The latest edition of believe housing’s digital newsletter is now available online.  

The online magazine covers all the latest developments from believe housing, one of the biggest providers of affordable homes in the north east.

The October edition of ‘believe housing news’ is available online now at and features full details of a new advice service for tenants that has been launched to help with any money worries. And the new issue also includes news of how demand for apprenticeships at believe housing has soared to new levels.

Marketing and Communications Manager at believe housing, Victoria Thompson, said: “Our magazine is a great way for our 18,000 tenants to find out what we’re working on in their community.

“The latest issue also covers the story of how our employability advice service has helped its 100th tenant and some top tips for checking your boiler if you’re turning it on for the first time after the summer.”

The magazine is fully responsive and can be easily read on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Any residents who would prefer to receive a printed copy of the magazine can email or call 0300 1311 999.

Looking back at 2018/19

Our 2018/2019 Annual Report is out now, highlighting the activities that took place in the last financial year.

The report covers the period between April 2018 and March 2019, before we launched as believe housing.

It highlights our achievements based on our nine service standards, which are set across the following key themes:

  • paying your rent
  • finding a home
  • living in your neighbourhood
  • repairs and maintenance
  • safety in your home
  • supporting our customers
  • engagement and community investment
  • complaints and feedback
  • communication and information

During the year we helped 1,679 families into affordable homes, and we built 135 brand-new homes to help meet the ever-growing demand for low-cost housing in the north east.

We also spent more than £21m on repairs to existing properties and £10.7m on improving neighbourhoods. And we invested £16.5m on major improvements to homes including new roofs, kitchens, bathrooms and heating systems.

But it’s not just about bricks and mortar, our teams helped more than 1,400 people with welfare benefit advice and helped tenants claim £754,843.88 that they were entitled to.

Our community grant programme also supported 70 projects with funding of £32,520, while our Employability Team helped 16 customers into employment.

Overall satisfaction from customers in the services we provided during 2018/19 was 85.6%.

Chief Executive, Bill Fullen, said: “Last year was a momentous one for what is now believe housing. Our new-build programme really kicked into top gear and is providing high-quality homes in more communities than ever before. We’ve also worked really hard on the support we offer to new and existing tenants in these difficult financial times.

“Any annual report can only ever be a snapshot of what we’re delivering on a day-to-day basis. But I think customers will see that we’re making great progress towards our aim of helping more people live a life without barriers.”

Read the full report.

funding boost for new hall

The gardens of a recently opened community facility are set to be kept spick and span thanks to support from a leading housing association.

St John’s Hall in Meadowfield on the outskirts of Durham can now boast well-tended gardens thanks to funding from believe housing.

The hall, which only reopened in May after a devastating fire, has been able to purchase a lawnmower and a range of other gardening tools with £500 from our community funding programme. The new equipment will allow volunteers to maintain the gardens surrounding St John’s Hall themselves, instead of having to pay an external contractor to do the work.

With an eye on the environment, the volunteers have also acquired the materials needed to compost grass cuttings and other garden waste. It is hoped that part of the garden space can also be transformed into a dementia friendly space with new planters and sensory plants.

Funding Officer from believe housing, Damian Pearson, said: “We always like to fund grass roots projects, and this one is taking the approach very literally.

“Projects like this, where even a relatively small amount can make a big difference, are exactly why we created out community funding programme. The volunteers at St John’s Hall are really committed to making the most of this fantastic new facility. We were very pleased to be able to help with this funding.”

Lesley Baxter from St John’s Hall said: “The new building cost over £570,000 and equipment  has to be funded from other grants and fundraising. believe housing’s £500 small grant scheme has been a great help for us to buy much needed equipment. This one bought a petrol lawnmower and some gardening equipment which is used by a small group of volunteers. Including believe housing tenants. Once the back garden area is complete next year we hope to have a steady stream of volunteers and the equipment will be well, used including the composter. This is the third small grant we have had over the years and I recommend groups to apply. The application process is simple and a very quick turnaround.”

Full details of the believe housing community grant programme are available here or by calling 0300 1311 999.

The scheme provides funds of up to £500 and is designed to help new groups take their first steps as well as supporting long standing organisations. The application process has been kept deliberately simple and funding decisions are made monthly to ensure groups are not waiting for lengthy periods to find out if they have been successful.

Any community organisation, non-profit making group, charity or school is eligible for the scheme.

essential maintenance on our IT systems

Due to essential maintenance, some of our services will be unavailable from 3pm today.

Due to a system upgrade, we will only be able to accept emergency repairs from 3pm today until Monday afternoon.

Our tenant app will also be down overnight for a system upgrade, but will be operational again tomorrow morning.

If you need to report an emergency repair during this time, you can call our out of hours service on 0300 1311 999, or contact us online.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

find out about our improvements programme

In this month’s bLog, we caught up with Kim Tillotson to talk about our improvements programme.

Find out what’s involved, what to expect from improvements in your home and how our Investment Team can help you through the process.

Watch the video above to find out more.

And remember for more insider views and sneak peaks of our new bLogs follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #bLog

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