Shine Magazine Autumn 2023
Welcome to your Autumn edition of Shine Magazine, where we're sharing stories about you and your community, and how to get involved with Eastlight.
It's competition time - draw your dream home
What’s your child's idea of a perfect home? Whether it’s made of brick or chocolate, whether it’s in a town near you or on the moon - we want them use their imagination to draw it and email it in. The sky’s the limit!
If your kids are aged between 5 and 12, we'd love them to email their design to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 10 November, and they could win a Smyths Toy Shop voucher!
The competition will be judged by our very own Bob the Builders – the Development Team – and the Customer Influence Committee.
News in 5
Congratulations to our prize draw winner, Paula Stone!
Paula completed our feedback survey in the summer edition of Shine and is very pleased to win one of five £50 shopping vouchers. Paula said: “This is fab, I’ve never won anything before.” Congratulations to our other winners too and thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey – your feedback matters to us.
Heating services are closer to home
We know how crucial it is that your heating system works properly. After hearing that you were waiting too long for some repairs to be completed in your homes, we’ve made some changes.
Since September, two new contractors have begun carrying out all gas and oil services and repairs in your homes. Axis Europe will be servicing homes with postcodes beginning with CO, IP and NR. If your postcode begins with CM, CB or SS, then Gas Call Services will support you.This will ensure that engineers can provide services more locally and reduce response times.
Plus, from 2024, Axis Europe and Gas Call Services will also be completing more safety checks during the warmer months to ensure more engineers can respond to emergency call outs across the winter period.
We’ve also changed our contractor for your annual servicing and repairs to your Air Source Heat Pump. This will now be conducted by Ecolution Group.
To book any repairs, please call our Customer Services team on 0330 128 0330.
All In your community
Our All In Alliances have been busy in the communities working closely with local people to find out how, together, we can make a difference to our towns and cities.
The alliances have been acting in Witham to tackle the issue of parking, and joining forces with local authorities to form a Community Hub in Braintree. They’ve also been supporting the community in Halstead and Colchester too. With your help, we can make our communities a lovelier place for us all.
The next meetings are planned for this winter. If you’d like to join an Alliance near you, head to www.weareallin.co.uk/join-all-in.
A place to call home
Last year, we built a record 324 new homes. We do this because there are thousands of people in our communities who cannot afford to buy or rent a home privately. At the same time, there are not enough affordable homes to provide a roof over the head of everyone who needs one.
Until recently they included Perry, who was living in temporary accommodation and struggling with his mental health until securing a new-build home in Feering.
Perry said: “Since Eastlight has been in contact, my entire life changed in a week. I cannot explain the significance of having a safe, affordable place to call my home. As a result of moving in, my mental health has dramatically improved. There is clearly a huge need for affordable housing, and I feel very grateful to have this opportunity.”
Fire door safety
If you live in a flat, you should have recently received a personalised door hanger from us. These contain crucial information about ensuring your front doors can keep you safe in the event of a smoke or fire.
We’re sending these to you annually in line with new Government legislation, introduced following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Please read the information carefully, keep it in a safe place and contact us with any questions.
"A fabulous service"
We recognise damp and mould is a big issue for many Eastlight residents and have created a new Healthy Homes team to support you to manage it. We will work with you to understand why it’s affecting your home and to find the best solutions to remove it and prevent it from returning. Bill Bishop contacted us earlier this year after damp appeared in several rooms in his home in Halstead. He said: “I was very pleased with your two operatives, Simon and Jack. I have now had a fan fitted in the kitchen and am waiting for my windows to be done and my front and back doors to be inspected to see if they should be replaced. A fabulous service.”
Have your voice heard
Are you happy with Eastlight? Does our repairs service meet your needs? Do you feel safe at home? Do we listen to you?
Every three months, these questions and more are posed to hundreds of residents on our behalf by an organisation called TLF Research. The results, which are called Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs), show where you are happy with the homes and services we provide - and where we need to make improvements. Other TSMs, such as how often we complete repairs on time and whether your homes meet the Decent Homes standard, are collected by us.
All housing associations like Eastlight must report these to the Regulator of Social Housing, which will shortly receive more powers to ensure landlords meet the needs of their residents.
Below are some of the results. You can see more information about our performance on our website, which will be updated following each survey.
- Overall satisfaction – 69%
- Satisfaction with repairs – 73%
- Satisfaction with complaints handling – 31%
- Satisfaction with Anti-Social Behaviour response – 53%
- Satisfaction that my home is safe – 79%
- Satisfaction that you keep me informed – 70%
New complaints team
As you can see, there are some areas where most residents are happy with the services we are providing, and some areas where we must do better. In particular, we have made a series of changes to improve how we handle your complaints.
You have told us that we are often too slow to respond to your complaints and that sometimes, you are not happy with the response when it arrives. In response, we have launched a new Customer Experience Team of specialists, who will be your point of contact when you make a complaint. They will work with you and colleagues at Eastlight to fully understand your issues and find the best solution as quickly as possible.
Keep talking to us!
You know better than anyone what you need to be safe and happy in your home, so if you have an issue, please tell us and we will try to resolve it. You can use any of the contact methods listed on our contact page here, and if you are contacted by phone or email about a survey, then please complete it.
Is there something about Eastlight that you’ve always wanted to know the answer to? Well now’s your chance to quiz Chief Executive, Emma Palmer, on the big issues that matter to you. You will get a response in return, and the answer from Emma may be featured in the next edition of Shine. If the question is about your home or services, please use the contact page to reach out and our Customer Services team will work to resolve it with you.
Repair waits fall by a fortnight
The average time you are waiting for repairs to your home has fallen by more than two weeks after we introduced a range of service improvements.
In your last Shine magazine, we revealed we were moving trades teams and using more contractors after you told us you were waiting too long for some repairs.
Since then, we have also restructured our Homes Solutions Team and worked with the resident-led Customer Influence Committee to update our Repairs Policy and our targets for completing repairs.
Back in May, it took us, on average, 44 days to complete your repair. The average waiting time is now down to just under 29 days.
This summer, we also introduced extra checks that you are home and still require a repair before we visit. Thanks to these changes and your support, this has been reduced to just 3%.
Still work to do
In a handful of areas, including general building works, we are sometimes still taking too long to complete your repairs. Our teams are working hard to reduce those waits and are focusing on giving you updates as soon as possible. If you’re not satisfied with the repairs service we provide, then we want to hear from you. Please get in touch with us and do complete any surveys you receive from us.
How long should my repairs take?
- Emergency – within 24 hours: a serious risk to the health, safety or security of you or your home
- Urgent – within 7 days: an issue that needs to be repaired quickly but does not pose an immediate risk to you or your home
- Routine – within 28 days: an issue that may be inconvenient, but does not seriously affect your ability to enjoy your home
- Planned – within 90 days: larger or more complicated repairs, such as fencing, where there is no risk to you or your home.
Creating A Place To Be You
It was whilst working as a mental health worker that Eastlight resident, Gemma Griffin, noticed people in Braintree only got the support they desperately needed when they reached crisis point.
“The foodbank isn’t just about the food”
The team at Halstead Foodbank, led by Eastlight resident, Barry Everett, supported 2,000 residents last year. But, as Barry explains, the service users receive more than just a food parcel.
“The foodbank is not only about giving out food, but also about making clients feel welcomed and relaxed - not stigmatised or embarrassed. A lot of people want to talk and there’s no other outlet for them.”
Barry, 75, volunteered to join the foodbank in 2011 after moving from Witham to an Eastlight (then Greenfields) home in Halstead following a relationship breakdown.
After becoming manager seven years ago, he says he is in the “lucky” position to support thousands of local residents with his team of volunteers.
As well as food parcels, they provide support and a listening ear to an increasing number of people.
Barry says: “The increase in demand since Covid is phenomenal - we have a queue outside door before we open now. We don’t leave them waiting though - we welcome them in, give them a hot drink and snack and sit them down to wait until we’re ready.”
Barry added: “I am a very satisfied Eastlight tenant. You gave me the opportunity to move into my home – I will be forever grateful.”
Like to volunteer or donate to the food bank?
Please visit https://braintreearea.foodbank.org.uk or call 01376 330694.
Meet your new Resident Leaders
This summer, we invited applications to join our resident-led Customer Influence Committee (CIC), which exists to ensure you receive the homes and services you want and need. Thank you to everyone who applied.
Zimbabwe-born domestic abuse survivor, Rue, is on a mission to improve, and increase representation, across our estates.
"Many people think landlords just want their rent, but I’ve witnessed first-hand how Eastlight cares for us, takes an interest and aims to give us the best customer experience – and the CIC is key to that success.
Having lived in my Eastlight home with my husband and daughter for ten years now, I’ve always been one to hold Eastlight to account.
It’s the reason I joined their Community Empowerment Team last year, where I engaged with many of you to help clean up our estates, support local charities and make our communities better places to live.
In my new role, I want to encourage residents who look like me to speak up and get involved in big ways and small. I want to help put power behind your words, so show up and help make a difference."
Halstead-based retiree, Michael Ryan, lives in an Eastlight bungalow with partner, Pauline, and he can’t wait to put his skills to the test.
"During my career, I’ve led some iconic rail and construction projects in the UK and overseas, and spent the last 15 years focused heavily on health, safety and wellbeing. And whilst that journey’s come to an end, I still have a lot to give.
With a keen interest in social housing, I joined Eastlight’s Resident Academy back in February. Now, I hope to use my expertise more widely to provide our residents with an improved standard of life.
I want to ensure that Eastlight uses its resources to the fullest, such as their front-line teams and contractors, to identify safety issues and enable the care elderly and other vulnerable people need - especially those who never ask for it."
New-build resident, Magenta, has lived in Sudbury for three years, and you might recognise her from All In.
"I was so grateful to have joined Eastlight’s All In Incubator programme, working in the Colchester Community Team to create Trusted – an initiative providing people with invaluable support through the cost-of-living crisis.
Once the year-long scheme ended, I wanted to do more to help Eastlight’s residents, specifically those that belong to my own micro-community in Suffolk, and a role on the CIC just seemed the most natural fit.
Like many of us, my Eastlight home is my forever home, and I’m excited to ask the simple but important questions around how we’re building homes with residents in mind: What’s Eastlight’s thinking? What haven’t they thought about? How are we involved in the design process?
I’m expecting many interesting and passionate conversations!"
Sowing the seeds
Not long ago, this community garden in Silver End was an unloved plot of land, overgrown with unsightly shrubs and thorny blackberry bushes. Now look at it!
That’s the community spirit!
If you’re looking to meet new people, support your mental health or simply become more confident in social situations, then here’s some fantastic groups to help you.