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Posted on: Mon 21st August 2017 11:16

We would like to apologise for the increase in waiting times which you may have experienced when reporting repairs in recent weeks.

As you may be aware, East Thames has recently brought in an additional contractor to take on some of the work previously carried out by Interserve.  To enable us to raise jobs to Aston, our new repairs contractor, we have had to make changes to our IT systems.  We were hoping that these changes would be in place when we went live with the new contract but unfortunately this has not been possible.  We have put an interim process in place but this means it is taking longer to process a repair than normal.

Until the permanent process solution is in place we have recruited additional members of staff to improve the situation and to help clear the backlog of emails as soon as possible. We also have some of the existing staff who usually deal with housing queries supporting wherever possible.  We are hoping that the changes we have now put in place will improve the service until the permanent solution is live.

Again, we are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.  We ask if, in the short term, you could only contact us in respect of urgent or emergency repairs.  If you have sent us an email, please do not chase for an answer as this will likely cause further delays in working through the backlog.  We are hoping that we will improve our response times by the beginning of September.

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Posted on: Tue 15th August 2017 11:25

Barking poet John Akinde has tapped into the creative energy in and around the Gascoigne Estate to deliver the fantastic cross-artform exhibition ‘Kids on the Block’ which examines, questions, and explores life on the estate.

The exhibition is being held at Boundary Road Gallery, Barking and Dagenham’s first contemporary art gallery, and features a variety of work from local young artists, providing an opportunity to view the creative energy that exists in the community.

The project is being run by local volunteers and has been funded thanks to a £1000 grant from East Thames housing association’s “Community Counts” fund. East Thames, which is part of the L&Q Group, is currently working in partnership with Barking and Dagenham Council to deliver new homes in phase one of the Gascoigne Estate regeneration – Weavers Quarter.

John Akinde lives on the estate and was determined to embolden young artists to drive the project forward and to look at unlocking the ways in which many young people, artists or not, express their creativity. It will use a variety of mediums to reflect on the richness in culture and diversity that the Gascoigne community takes so much pride in.

Encouraging variety meant that submissions have included a wide range of artistic pieces including soundscapes, photography, and live performances. The exhibition also ensures people from the estate, and from all across Barking, have the opportunity to interact with the pieces in a comfortable and familiar environment.

Entry to the exhibition is free and it runs from 14 August to 16 September.

Nicola Brown, Starting Point Co-ordinator, said:

“This is an exciting project that brings together young and creative people living on the Gascoigne estate. It is driven by them and is a wonderful way to encourage local people to interact with arts and culture so close to home.

East Thames is keen to keep working with people in the area to support positive projects that benefit the residents of Barking, particularly those on the Gascoigne estate.”

John Akinde, Kids on the Block Curator and Gascoigne resident, said:

“The exhibition will show what art means for young people that live in and around the estate. Creative people have lived here and many still do. The exhibition is an ode to the people that have created, are creating and continue to do so irrespective of their circumstance.

We are grateful to Community Counts for funding a project which, we hope, will have a big impact on the local community.”

Further details on the exhibition can be found here: www.studio3arts.org.uk/events/2017/7/28/kids-on-the-block-curated-by-john-akinde

Posted on: Thu 3rd August 2017 14:55

 

The team working on the Ocean Estate regeneration scheme in Tower Hamlets has raised £2,500 for Halley Primary School.

The money was used by the school to take Year 6 pupils on a trip, where two thirds of the children learnt to ride a bike and participate in activities they have never experienced before. The fundraising has also meant the school will be able to renew their broken sandpit.

The donation was bought together by staff from the companies working on the East Thames scheme including Higgins, East Electrical, Seabro Scaffolding, Regents Brickwork and Screedforce.

Lisa Payne, from Halley Primary School comments, “Halley greatly appreciates the combined efforts of all the teams that helped fundraise for the school. The money raised allowed us to make amazing memories for our Year 6 leavers by subsidising a school journey and fun day out as well as contributing to essential playground refurbishment and maintenance.” 

Ocean Estate is a £50 million scheme for East Thames and is the development of 225 private and affordable residential units within three residential blocks, varying in height from two to thirteen storeys, with basement parking and associated landscaping.

Posted on: Fri 21st July 2017 16:04

East Thames’ customers, staff and corporate partners came together on Friday 14 July to celebrate the success of local residents who have gained employment, thanks to the employment programmes provided by housing association East Thames.

In the last five years alone, East Thames has helped almost 1300 people into work, teaming up with with partners such as HSBC, Barclays and city law firm Trowers and Hamlins to provide mentoring, work experience, placements and the soft skills needed to enter the world of work. East Thames’ employment programmes are open to all ages, meaning people from all walks of life can receive support.

Since its merger with L&Q in 2016, the scope to offer employment opportunities has increased significantly. The combined group is set to launch training academy which will provide mentoring and support and offer apprenticeships and training to help residents get qualified.

The academy also aims to address the acute construction skills shortage in the UK providing apprenticeships for residents and local people in construction as well as housing, maintenance, back office support and care and support.

The event, which took place at East Thames’ West Ham Lane head office, was in celebration of National Employability Day.

John Bryson, Employment and Enterprise Manager for East Thames said: “I’m proud of all of our ambitious residents who have worked hard to make a success of their lives. It is our aim to get as many unemployed people as possible into work so that they are better able to support themselves and live independently. Going forward we will be investing £250 million to improve the life chances of those who live in our homes and communities.

"We are excited to launch our new training academy which aims to develop talented, qualified staff, and provide many more residents with skills and employment opportunities.”

Svetlana Stoyanova came to East Thames for help in June 2015 after being referred to the employment programme by a friend. She had been out of work for 6 months having lost her job as a cleaner due to an injury. She said: “I was in a very desperate stage in my life, I felt absolutely lost. I applied for the programme and I was invited to come along to a session with Shehla. I was very sceptical but I stuck with it and was encouraged to keep going, work on my CV, and apply for more jobs.”

After attending several sessions and working on her CV, Svetlana received a response from a job application: “I was invited to an interview at a solicitors firm. I didn’t get it and I was so disappointed but Shehla and the Routes to Work programme were such a big support. She was so positive, hugged me, and told me I was doing great and that I should keep going.”

Svetlana started volunteering at East Thames’ Halley Road Care Scheme for people with learning disabilities, and after a couple of weeks a job became available: “After volunteering I felt that I was capable of doing the job and when a position became available and I was encouraged to go for it. Diana supported me with my application and I was successful!”

Svetlana has now been working as a Support Worker at East Thames for over a year, she said: “I feel so lucky to have this job and was so grateful to have all the supportive and positive people around me like Shehla and Diana. They encourage me to always do my best, work as part of a team, grow together and learn together.”

To find out more about East Thames and their employment programmes visit: www.east-thames.co.uk/ete, call: 0208 522 2221 or email: ete@east-thames.co.uk.

Posted on: Mon 10th July 2017 14:18

 

A team of hardworking young east London residents are working to dispel the myth that young people are not offering a valuable contribution to society. Refusing to be portrayed as workshy, disengaged and apathetic, 26 year old Barking Resident, Victoria Oladele is taking great strides to portray young people in a positive light with her project the Insyde Talk Show.

The Insyde Talk Show is a platform for young people to voice their opinions. Founded in 2014, they organise and facilitate live panel shows on a range of topics covering anything from young people in tech, to money saving and travelling.

The show recently received a £500 boost from East Thames housing association’s “Community Counts” fund. East Thames is currently working in partnership with Barking and Dagenham to deliver new homes in phase 1 of the Gascoigne Estate Regeneration – Weavers Quarter.

As well as the talk show, the team also work with local social media influencers to put on events, and offer services to benefit the local community. Most recently, they partnered with fitness blogger Just Geen on a project called #fitfromtheinsyde – offering personal training at a fraction of its usual cost. This project was created as a result of young people's concerns about body image and fitness when growing up in inner cities.

Insyde Talk Show founder, Victoria said “The youth voice matters. Our aim at Insyde is to promote young people’s voices in a positive light. We wanted to challenge society’s perceptions of young people whilst also giving young people a platform and a voice. Young people care about community.”

Nicola Brown, Starting Point Co-ordinator, said “East Thames is keen to keep working with people in the area to support positive projects that benefit the residents of Barking, particularly those on the Gascoigne estate.”

To find out how to apply for Community Counts funding, email Nicola.brown@east-thames.co.uk

To find out more about the insyde talk show, follow them on twitter @Insydetalk.

Posted on: Fri 7th July 2017 15:56

A pioneering new £12,025 million Independent Living housing scheme in Saffron Walden moved a step closer to completion with an official ground breaking ceremony held on Thursday 6 July. Cornell Court, which is being built opposite the Tesco superstore on Radwinter Road, adjacent to the Mandeville Place housing development, will be the first of its kind in the Uttlesford district. 

Once complete it will offer 73 stylish, self-contained one and two-bedroom apartments designed to meet local people’s changing needs in later life. Forty apartments will be available for affordable rent and 33 for shared ownership. Each self-contained apartment will feature one or two bedrooms, a modern open plan living, kitchen and dining area and bathroom. Future residents will also benefit from shared facilities including a communal lounge, roof terrace, library, green house and hair salon.

The primary difference between Cornell Court and other, existing assisted living schemes in the area is the added peace of mind offered by 24/7 on-site emergency support from L&Q Living, who will manage the scheme.

Cornell Court is being developed by L&Q living in partnership with Uttlesford District Council, Essex County Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and Keepmoat Regeneration, part of the ENGIE Group. The land for the scheme was transferred to Uttlesford District Council by Countryside Properties, as part of their affordable housing requirement for the wider Mandeville Place development.  

Cornell Court has been supported by over £3.5 million in grant contributions and is part of Essex County Council’s five-year, £27 million countywide investment to create upto 1,800 new Independent Living homes for older people with care needs. The scheme has been named after Daphne Cornell, former mayor of Saffron Walden, to reflect her contribution as town and district councillor and lifelong involvement in local charity work.

Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Health & Adult Social Care, Essex County Council, said:“We are committed to helping people maintain their independence in later life. Cornell Court will help more people in Uttlesford to have the quality of life they want, in a safe and pleasant environment.”

Cllr Julie Redfern, Cabinet Member for Housing, Uttlesford District Council, said: “Uttlesford’s Housing Team works in partnership to deliver the best for our residents. This, the first Independent Living facility in the district, is one of those partnerships. I am so pleased that this project is underway and will be available to help some of our more mature residents live happy and independent lives for as long as possible. It is wonderful to see projects that form part of our housing strategy come to fruition. It is especially nice to see it named after someone who has done so much for the residents of Saffron Walden.”

Charlie Culshaw, Director, L&Q Living, said: “Our mission at L&Q Living is to deliver personalised support for an independent life. The UK has an ageing population and there is a growing need for this type of housing. We’re developing the scheme so that as people’s needs change, we can adapt the service we offer them, which means they won’t have to move later on in life. We’re delighted to be able to bring the first scheme of its kind to the area.”

Andy Baker, Divisional Director for Keepmoat Regeneration’s London and Southern Region, said: “Keepmoat Regeneration is committed to providing innovative solutions to help clients meet the needs of their residents, as well as creating strong links with local suppliers and build meaningful relationships with the communities in which we work. We design homes for older people with longevity and accessibility in mind to ensure that our accommodation adapts easily with people’s changing needs as they grow older, preventing a move later in life.”

Cornell Court is expected to welcome the first residents through its doors in September 2018. To be eligible for an affordable rent apartment individuals must be a resident in Uttlesford, aged 55+ and require at least six hours a week of care. To find out more visit www.independentessex.co.uk or ring 0345 6037630. To register interest in a shared ownership apartment visit http://eastmandevilleplace.co.uk/

Posted on: Fri 23rd June 2017 17:34

The health and safety of our residents has always been the top priority at East Thames. In the wake of the tragic incident at Grenfell Tower, we are taking immediate action to review our fire safety procedures.

All our fire risk assessments are currently up to date. We visit sheltered housing schemes and tower blocks over six storeys high once a year to review fire safety. However we are now taking another look at what we can do to ensure the safety of our residents.

We are carrying out additional safety reviews of all blocks over six storeys. And, while the circumstances behind the fire are still unclear, we are taking the additional precaution of surveying the cladding on these blocks. Where we find any materials that pose a fire risk, these will be removed and replaced as soon as possible. If these materials pose an immediate risk to our residents, we will move them to suitable alternative accommodation until we can resolve the problem.

We are prioritising risk assessments for older and vulnerable residents, as well as those living in high rise blocks. We will consider all possible methods of mitigating fire risk - cost will not, and never has been, a barrier to providing the most appropriate solution. We will seek to replicate new build fire safety standards, such as sprinkler systems, in our existing blocks. Where practical constraints mean this is not possible, we will develop a bespoke fire safety strategy and communicate this clearly to our residents. We have also taken the decision to provide smoke alarms to all residents who need one.  

This work is an immediate priority for East Thames and we have set aside the necessary staffing and budgetary resources to deliver solutions quickly.

Further fire safety advice from the London Fire Brigade can be found here http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/FSITH_leaflet.pdf

Any residents with specific questions about their properties should contact us via customerservices@east-thames.co.uk and we will be happy to look into these.

Posted on: Tue 20th June 2017 16:48

Social enterprises, community groups and charities gathered on the evening of Thursday 15 June for the 9th annual Starting Point awards to reflect on a year of good work and reward those altruistic groups who had gone the extra mile to service their community.

Starting Point was set up by East Thames housing association (Part of the L&Q Group) in 2007. Based in Pickering Road in Barking it is a unique, purpose built facility that helps community groups, charities and social enterprises get off the ground with office space, business training and a range of support services.

Four awards were presented. For the second year running Troan LTD; a community organisation set up to help alleviate poverty and tackle disadvantage, came away with an award. Their hard work saw them advance from the Ones to Watch in 2016 to the Most Improved this year. The group are so dedicated to helping communities in London that they weren’t able to collect their trophy in person as they were busy volunteering. 

Volunteer of the year was awarded to Cassie Hull, who has been helping the Organisation of the Year, Future M.O.L.D.S Communities with their mission to support young people who are neither in employment nor education. Speaking of their win, Sarah Robertson, managing director for Future M.O.L.D.S Communities said “Winning this award has helped us to recognise the achievements of our small but effective team.  It was fabulous that the people we serve took the time to vote for us which makes it even more special.  We would like to thank Starting Point for their continued support and look forward to next year’s awards!”

This year’s One to Watch award was given to Inspire Women, Men and Children, a charity set up to help people improve the quality of their lives.

And the celebration doesn’t stop there. Each of the winners will go forward to The Pride of L&Q Awards, which celebrates residents who go above and beyond to give back to their community.

Speaking of the hardworking groups, Nicola Brown, Starting Point co-ordinator said “We’re not just about providing facilities, we’re about community. In order to succeed these groups really work together and bounce ideas off each other. It’s great to see how each of these independent businesses lift each other up and take time out of their own projects to help others improve. I’m excited to see what they go on to achieve in the coming year!”

For more information on Starting Point, what they do, and what they can do for you, visit: http://www.starting-point.org.uk/

Full list of award winners

Winners:

One To Watch – Inspire Women, Men and Children
Most Improved – Troan
Organisation Of The Year – Future M.O.L.D.S Communities (FMC)
Volunteer Of The Year – Cassie Hull (FMC)

Commendees:

One To Watch – All Women’s Network
Most Improved – The Insyde Talk Show
Organisation Of The Year – Help Handz
Volunteer Of The Year – Suntharamoorthy Ponnampalam

Posted on: Mon 19th June 2017 12:13

A previously unused space has been transformed into a welcoming lounge for job seeking families thanks to a partnership from East Thames and Higgins Construction.

The office, located in Sylvian Road, Ilford, will be used by East Thames housing association to deliver employment and skills advice and training. Parents will be welcome to bring their children along to meetings, meaning childcare need not be a barrier to those wanting to seek help.

The space was decorated by a group of learners completing East Thames construction skills course Construct your Career. As well as giving them the necessary experience working in a trade, the project enabled them to give back to the community.

The space was completed by a generous furniture donation from Higgins Construction, a construction company which focuses on building communities. Higgins Construction and East Thames partner on major development and regeneration projects in London, including the Ocean Estate in Tower Hamlets.

Nicola Brown, an employment and enterprise co-ordinator for East Thames said “We’re so grateful to everyone who has helped us make this project a reality. We offer employment support from dedicated local hubs because it’s important to bring our services direct to the communities that need them. We hope opening this space will benefit people in Ilford wanting to move into work.”

Jeff Joseph, Community Investment Manager for Higgins Construction comments, “We are extremely committed to working with and rebuilding local communities and are delighted to have been able to donate the furniture to East Thames. The furniture was being used at a regeneration project in Hackney which is coming to an end so we couldn’t think of any better use for it.”

East Thames offers a range of employment and enterprise opportunities and training from several locations across East London. For more information on how East Thames can help you get back into work, improve your CV or start a business visit www.east-thames.co.uk/ete call 0208 522 2221 or email ete@east-thames.co.uk

Posted on: Wed 14th June 2017 11:58

The thoughts of everyone at East Thames are with those affected by the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in West London today. 

As part of the L&Q Group, we have been in contact with officials from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea this morning, and will offer whatever support we can.

We wish to reassure residents that East Thames has robust measures in place to ensure the safety of all our properties, and we work closely with fire authorities to ensure these measures are regularly tested and we remain fully compliant  with the law.

Further fire safety advice from the London Fire Brigade can be found here www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/FSITH_leaflet.pdf

Any residents with specific questions about their properties should contact us via customerservices@east-thames.co.uk and we will be happy to look into these.

Posted on: Wed 7th June 2017 11:39

One in ten people in London are housed by a housing association.  At the L&Q group, we strongly believe that everyone should have a quality home they can afford.

For single mum like Maria, social housing provides the security she needs to raise her son, Michael, in the community she grew up in.  

“I’ve been on the waiting list for eleven and a half years. I’ve been living with my parents – I split up with my son’s dad after he was born. I used to share my room with Michael, but as he’s got older I let him have the room to himself. You’ve got to do the best for your kids.”

Maria and Michael were stuck living in an overcrowded house with her parents and younger brother. With no spare rooms, Maria was had no choice but to sleep in the living room.

“I slept on the sofa for three and a half years. I work nights so I’d come home and sleep in Michael’s bed before he got home from school. I had no space for myself - all my clothes were in bags.”

Determined to improve the situation for both herself and her son, Maria continued to register her interest in properties via the choice based-lettings “bidding” system, which allows people on the housing waiting list to nominate themselves for a suitable property.

“I had almost given up but in April an East Thames house came up on this street. I really wanted to stay local because I’ve lived on this estate my whole life. A little while after I bid I got a call from Melinda at East Thames, she was really nice. She said I needed to come in with all my details as I had been allocated the property. I have been so lucky, our new house is only 14 doors down from my mum’s house!”

Now settled in their new home, the mum and son duo have the best of both worlds. They’ve got their own space and still get to see the family every day.

We want to give more people like Maria and Michael a home. The L&Q Group is committed to working with partners to enable the delivery of 100,000 new homes.

Posted on: Wed 7th June 2017 09:45

Housing associations play a crucial part in providing affordable housing options for people from all walks of life. One of these options is Shared Ownership. Shared ownership is designed for first-time buyers who are able to raise a mortgage but are unable to afford the full cost of home ownership. Buyers purchase a share in the new home, normally 25% to 75% of the total property value, and subsidised rent is then paid on the remaining share.

Luke and Kelly Hayes bought a three bedroom house from East Thames, part of the L&Q Group. The new development was made up entirely of affordable homes, with six shared ownership properties and one affordable rent home.

Each of these Chingford properties, part of a development known as ‘Mayfield’, benefit from a private garden and parking space and were available to people who already worked or lived in Waltham Forest – providing local first time buyers and young families with the opportunity to step onto the property ladder.

Luke and Kelly have two daughters, Megan (13) and Grace (8), who now have their own bedrooms and a garden to enjoy. New owner Luke said, “Renting a house in this area worked out more expensive than purchasing this home through shared ownership, it was a no-brainer for us. We were both born half a mile down the road but house prices in the area are just too high, this house was the perfect option for us.”

Kelly added, “The children have loads of space to run around and our private roof terrace is my little haven away from it all.”

The biggest benefit of shared ownership is that customers can, in the future, buy further shares and eventually own 100% of their property.

At the L&Q  group we are committed to tackling the housing crisis and believe everyone deserves a quality home they can afford.  In the three years since April 2014, L&Q has invested £1.4bn in building 6,606 new homes across London and the South East.

 55% (3,360) of these homes were affordable and were available either for low cost home ownership or for sub market rent.