Well, what a year it’s been! From celebrating our milestone 20th birthday, and announcing the largest ever single investment in our homes; to building our housing stock back up to 6,000 and launching the name and brand of our wholly owned subsidiary – it’s been a whirlwind!
It’s been a year of growth, building Valleys to Coast from our foundations to a place where we are creating positive change for our customers, communities and colleagues.
So, in case you missed it, here’s a quick re-cap:
We kickstarted the new year with our commitment to sustainability, by announcing our partnership with Warm Wales, a community interest company supporting our customers to stay warm and well at home; and planting the first of 300 trees across the borough! Donated by the Woodland Trust, the native broadleaf trees will help our efforts to support decarbonisation, encourage biodiversity and to prevent flooding. We started the planting in Caerau, Maesteg, North Cornelly and Pencoed with the help of community volunteers including pupils from Garth Primary, Corneli Primary and Afon y Felin Primary.
In February we joined other social housing providers across the UK in responding to the national focus on damp and mould following the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in Oldham. As part of our response we set up a dedicated task and finish group which has continued to work throughout 2023 to focus efforts on prevention and awareness on the issue.
We also shone a spotlight on how we work with our partners to realise community benefits from our development contracts, including this fantastic story of how we partnered with Bluefield Land Ltd to support Tondu RFC’s pitch improvements.
March saw us announce the results of our STAR survey where over 1,300 of our customers told us how satisfied they were with our services. This has provided incredibly useful insight into the areas our customers are telling us we need to improve and so much has happened since! One of our biggest areas of focus has been on making improvements to our repairs and maintenance services, and how we deal with anti-social behaviour. Get a re-cap of the STAR survey results here.
As Spring sprung, we brought in the changes in the way we survey our customers’ homes. Saving valuable time for everyone, we launched our whole home surveys which see us carry out a series of survey checks in just one visit. These checks allow us to keep an eye on future maintenance needs as well as potential for home energy improvements.
We buried a time capsule at our new development in Ffordd Melin Ddwr with the help of Oldcastle Primary School pupils and Hale Construction with instructions for it to be opened in the year 2050!
And we invited our customers to join us for the journey and help us shape our new repairs and maintenance company with so many of you coming forward to join our focus groups and workstreams. It’s never too late to get involved, so if you want to help us and feed in your experiences, find out more here.
We were delighted to introduce our Welsh language commitments in May. Addo, derived from the Welsh word for ‘to promise’ (pronounced ‘ah-tho’), outlines how we embrace our national language and use it wherever we can in our interactions with colleagues, customers, and stakeholders. Darllenwch mwy yma (read more here)!
We also announced our partnership with e-Cymru, a national housing portal designed to connect our customers to events, engagement and e-learning opportunities to help people live happier and healthier. Sign up and see what it’s all about!
Finally, we were thrilled to announce that through our efforts we’d reduced our carbon footprint by 169 tonnes over a year! However, with our total carbon usage for 2022-23 standing at 33,938 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) there’s more we could, and should be doing. Here’s what we had to say about it.
We let residents in Caerau know that we’d secured EU funding of up to £15,000 thanks to a partnership between us, Caerau Skyline, and The Green Valleys, for a new footpath and environmental improvements along Cymmer Road, North Street, and Victoria Street. The project was geared towards helping people soak in the stunning views of the picturesque Llynfi Valley and was completed over the summer. Read all about it here.
We also gave an update on our progress at our fantastic 20-property development on Old Station Road, Porthcawl.
In July we broke ground with a ceremony at our development site at the old Blaenllynfi School where 20 new homes are being built.
We were absolutely thrilled to be recognised at the TPAS Cymru Good Practice Awards, securing second place under the category of ‘Communication and Engagement Approach,’ for our pop-up events, and saw the fantastic Wildmill Youth Club honoured with the prestigious ‘Judges Special Recognition Award’ – such an achievement, well done all.
And finally our colleagues put on their hiking boots to kickstart our 20th birthday celebrations with a charitable 20-kilometre walk from the Ogmore Valley to Bridgend town – all in aid of our charity of the year Y Bwthyn Newydd. Watch our video of this epic challenge!
With summer in full swing, we announced the winners of our Growing for Gold Awards that celebrate the positive impact that beautiful gardens, public spaces, and greenery have on our communities. With an award ceremony hosted at the lovely Bryncethin Community Centre we recognised and rewarded our wonderful customers who work hard to maintain their gardens and green spaces. Take a look at the winners gardens, and get some inspiration for 2024, here.
In August we also announced our Board’s decision to begin the process of closing Dinam Close in Nantymoel, and outlined the steps we would take to support tenants. Find out more here.
In September we celebrated 20 years of Valleys to Coast! It was perfect timing to announce making our largest single investment in our homes – a significant £31.5 million to benefit customers living in our 6000 homes across Bridgend.
We also celebrated with our customers, teaming up with local primary schools to run a birthday card competition and asking some customers who have been with us throughout our 20 year journey what home means to them. Watch their heartwarming stories here.
Finally, we used our 20th birthday conference to unveil the name and brand of our wholly owned subsidiary. Llanw – a new wave in property repairs and maintenance.
As autumn started to settle in, our housing team took to the streets to carry out our annual door-knocking exercise. This is a great opportunity to speak to customers, and this year a chance to ask for information that can help us provide more inclusive services to everyone.
By asking customers for information, we learned that some of our customers communicate exclusively through British Sign Language or have a different first language; that most of our customers are aged between 55 and 64; and that a large number of you care for loved ones full-time. Having this information will help us develop our services to help you live safe and happy – thank you to everyone who opened their doors to our team.
And of course Hallowe’en gave us the perfect excuse to get our face paints out and our costumes on, with a series of spooktacular community engagement events – check out what we got up to!
Money. It’s a subject we all think about, but often it’s the one we’d rather not discuss openly. So, during November’s Talk Money Week we encouraged customers to Do One Thing and reach out to our Money Matters team for support. Remember – we’re just a chat away.
And with Christmas just around the corner, we asked our colleagues and customers to support three very worthy local causes – the Bridgend Council Santa Appeal, helping make sure every child in Bridgend wakes up to a gift on Christmas morning; Age Cymru’s Gift Box Appeal, filling shoeboxes with thoughtful gifts for older people in our communities; and Bridgend Foodbank, to help ensure people have something to eat over this festive season.
And to round up a busy year, we announced that together we fundraised a brilliant £5679.38 for our Charity of the Year Y Bwthyn Newydd, to help this wonderful charity provide specialist palliative care and support to people with life-limiting illnesses in the Bridgend area.
And, following your nominations, our colleagues voted for 2024’s Charity of the Year – keep an eye out for news coming your way soon.
And to help the festive season get into full swing, we hosted our annual Christmas party at our extra care scheme Llys Ton in Kenfig Hill with a performance from our colleague and customer choir the Choral Coasters. Take it away guys…
And coming soon…
In 2024 we look forward to going live with Llanw, our new wave in property repairs and maintenance services in April; welcoming a new Chair of our Board; handing over more brand new homes to local people; and investing millions in our homes to make them warmer, safer, and more affordable.