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Welcome to bLog …
bLogs are our new way of telling the stories of what’s going on behind the scenes at believe housing.
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Watch our bLog intro video above to find out more!
The latest edition of County Durham Housing Group’s digital newsletter is now available online.
‘group news’ has the latest developments from right across the county, including the story of how a housing development in Seaham has helped one new mother to put down roots close to family and friends.
The February issue also features the story of how County Durham Housing Group is upgrading footpaths in the Brandon area, as work on a £138m home improvement programme continues to transform properties. And the latest magazine also covers two community projects for young people in east Durham that have been made possible with support from the group.
Group Communications Manager, Jill Ancrum, said: “group news is a great way for residents to find out what we’re working on in their community. This issue includes the inside story on our £54m new-build programme, which is delivering 545 homes across the county.”
The magazine is fully responsive so can be easily read on a PC, laptop, tablet and mobile phone from www.cdhgroupnews.co.uk.
Anyone wanting a printed copy should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 1311 999.
A theatre group in east Durham is making a song and dance thanks to funding from a major housing association.
Seaham Youth Theatre Group is staging a full costume performance of Oklahoma, complete with a live orchestra, thanks to funding from County Durham Housing Group.
The volunteer run theatre group works with young people aged nine to 18 to increase their confidence while teaching skills in acting, singing and dancing.
Oklahoma is the latest in a long line of musicals staged by the group and will feature professional quality lighting, sound systems and costumes on a specially designed set. Rehearsals have been taking place on Friday evenings in preparation for a four-night run at East Durham College on 20-23 February.
County Durham Housing Group has provided £500 towards the cost of costumes and scenery for the musical through its ‘County Durham Housing Group community grant’ programme.
County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Team Leader, Angela Stobbart, said: “The young people who have been involved in this performance have put so much into the show, but they’re getting a lot out of it too. There’s no doubt that they’ll have made new friends and picked up a host of new skills during the process.
“For only a relatively small amount of money, we’ve been able to support these young people, but also provide a positive and tangible activity for them all to do on a Friday night.”
Gillian Biffetti from Seaham Youth Theatre Group said: “We are so grateful to County Durham Housing Group for this grant to help towards the cost of our latest production Oklahoma. Our group gives youngsters the opportunity to experience the full remit of performing arts which in turn gives them
invaluable life skills. They also make friends and memories for life while having a lots of fun.”
Full details of the County Durham Housing Group community grant scheme are available at here.
The application process for ‘County Durham Housing Group community grant’ has been kept deliberately simple and funding decisions are made monthly to ensure local groups don’t wait for lengthy periods to find out if they have been successful.
Any community organisation, non-profit making group, charity or school working in the areas served by County Durham Housing Group is eligible for the scheme. Applications are welcome from groups in most of east Durham, central Durham and Weardale, plus towns and villages like Pity Me, Bishop Auckland and Sherburn.
The first of more than 50 new homes in Seaham have already helped a new mother put down roots in the area where she grew up.
A brand-new two-bed home has helped Emma Davison find a comfortable and affordable way to bring up her daughter close to family and friends. The two-bedroom house in Heathway has been created by County Durham Housing Group, and is one of 56 affordable homes being built in the Parkside area of Seaham.
Emma was living with her mother, just five minutes away, when her daughter was born in August, but was looking for an affordable place of her own. She found out about the new homes by word of mouth and quickly put a bid in for the property.
Emma said: “I was really keen on these homes because they were brand-new, affordable and I know the area. There were at least 13 other people who made a bid for the home, so I was really pleased to get it.
“It’s lovely here. It’s really quiet, I’ve even seen squirrels in the back garden.”
After settling in quickly with her daughter Rosa, Emma has been telling her friends and family about how much she is enjoying her new place.
“The process was good, and quite quick. I’ve already recommended County Durham Housing Group to a friend and to my brother, who is looking to move out of a private rented home.” Emma added.
The first affordable homes completed in Heathway were acquired by County Durham Housing Group following an agreement with Keepmoat Homes. Emma’s is one of four houses that were completed to a high standard in late 2018 and have now all welcomed their first tenants. A further four houses for County Durham Housing Group are due to be completed later in 2019.
County Durham Housing Group is also constructing 48 new affordable homes on a larger site opposite Emma’s new home. The project, which is now underway, will see 16 two-bedroom wheelchair adaptable bungalows, a pair of three-bedroom bungalows and 30 three-bedroom family houses. Once completed, many of the homes will be available for affordable rent, with the remainder being offered under the government-backed ‘Rent to Buy’ scheme.
Rent to Buy is a government scheme designed to ease the transition from renting to buying a home by providing subsidised rent; usually around 20% below the market rate.
County Durham Housing Group is constructing 545 new affordable homes on 20 sites stretching from the coast to rural Weardale. The £54m project passed the 100 homes mark late last year and construction is currently taking place on sites in Peterlee, Bowburn and Bishop Auckland as well as Seaham.
County Durham Housing Group Development Manager, Tom Winter, said: “It’s great to see that Emma and Rosa are settling in so well. When we’re talking about 545 new homes it’s easy to focus on the bricks and mortar. But every new property completed means a new home for a local family, like this one.
“There’s a really strong demand for affordable homes in Seaham so we’re looking forward to helping more families into new homes once our latest construction project is complete.”
Pavements and paths leading to hundreds of homes in Brandon are receiving a £530,000 makeover thanks to County Durham Housing Group.
Work is currently taking place in Stack Garth, High Shaws, Sycamore Park and Holly Park as part of a £138m, 10-year investment programme that will transform thousands of affordable homes.
Properties in Croft Rigg, Willow Close, Bell Meadow and White Cedars have already benefited from the footpath improvement works. In total County Durham Housing Group is investing £750,000 in footpaths in the Brandon area during 2018/19. As well as improving access and safety, the new surfacing is making a major difference to the appearance of the neighbourhood.
Work to fencing and footpaths features alongside major upgrades to insulation, fitting new roofs, plus installing new kitchens, bathrooms or heating systems in the programme, which will benefit homes stretching from rural Weardale to the Durham coast.
The group has more than 18,500 affordable homes across the county and also has a 545-home new-build programme. More than 100 properties have already been completed, and construction is underway on sites in Bowburn, Peterlee and Bishop Auckland.
County Durham Housing Group Managing Quantity Surveyor, Stephen Clarke, said: “We’re carrying out huge changes to the interior and exterior of thousands of homes as part of this investment programme. It’d be easy to forget the important role that upgrading and improving the safety of access to the homes plays too.
“We’ve been working closely with residents to minimise disruption and will be completing the upgrade as quickly as possible.”
The refurbishments are being carried out in partnership with specialist contractors ENGIE.
ENGIE was awarded the £138m contract by the group following a competitive bidding process based on value for money and quality. The company, formerly known as Keepmoat Regeneration, has a long and successful track record of working in the area and extensive experience of delivering major projects, while minimising disturbance to residents.
Primary school pupils in Peterlee have been picking up free first aid training as part of a pilot scheme by one of the region’s largest housing associations.
35 students at Seascape Primary School have learned vital skills that could help their friends and families in an accident thanks to County Durham Housing Group. The group has co-ordinated the training in partnership with St John Ambulance, using funding secured from public sector procurement consultancy Prosper.
Children in year 5 were taught by a fully qualified first aid trainer from St John Ambulance. The pupils heard all about when to assist someone in trouble and some of the simple steps they can take while waiting for help to arrive. They were also taught the importance of keeping airways clear using the recovery position, plus how to deal with bleeding and use bandaging.
County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Officer, Deborah Woods, said: “The children at Seascape Primary were so eager to learn how they can help their friends and families should the worst happen.
“First aid is a key life skill and the children enjoyed picking it up so much. If this pilot is successful we’ll look at ways to roll out this training across more of County Durham.”
The youngsters at Seascape Primary are the second group to take part in the pilot scheme. They follow their counterparts at Oakley Cross Primary School in West Auckland who received first aid training during the summer.
Seascape Primary School teacher Tara Duncombe said: “The kids had a great day learning a valuable skill that will help them as they grow up.”
The neighbourhood surrounding Seascape Primary School has been identified by County Durham Housing Group as a priority area, which means that extra support and funding is being provided to assist residents with training, education and employability.
Dozens of Brandon Primary School children can kickstart the school day on a healthy foot thanks to new funding for their breakfast club.
Children at Brandon Primary School, on the outskirts of Durham, can look forward to two years of nutritious food following support from one of the region’s largest housing associations and a leading north east-based charity.
£3,800 has been awarded by County Durham Housing Group to help cover the costs of food and drink for the youngsters.
Greggs Foundation worked alongside County Durham Housing Group to provide bread for more than 50 pupils at the school every day. It is expected that the healthy and wholesome start to the day will help with schoolwork, and also improve social skills and behaviour in and outside of the classroom.
For nearly 20 years Greggs Foundation has been teaming up with communities and local partners to introduce breakfast clubs to help nourish as many children as possible. As a national programme, the foundation helps to feed over 32,500 pupils every day in over 500 schools.
County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Team Leader, Angela Stobbart, said: “There’s a proven link between children performing well at school and having a nutritious and filling breakfast. This project has been created to make sure that none of the pupils at Brandon Primary need to start their day on an empty stomach.”
Deputy Headteacher, Mrs McGough, said: “Our own evidence supports the research and we know children who enjoy a healthy breakfast with us in school are set up ready for learning for the day.”
Lynne Hindmarch, Greggs Foundation, Breakfast Club Manager said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with County Durham Housing Group and supporting breakfast clubs within Greggs local communities and seeing first-hand the impact having a great start to the school day makes.”
Brandon has been identified by County Durham Housing Group as a priority area, which means that extra support and funding is being provided to assist residents with training, education and employability.