Category Archives: News

Storm Doris had her day

Doris caused such a storm, residents were still phoning the Society five days after the ‘weather bomb’ hit Britain and Ireland. But MMHS householders appear to have escaped the worst of it.

Shattered fences and broken roof tiles were the reasons why residents across the country called or emailed the Society – after gusts of up to 100mph had struck their homes.

REPAIR FENCES

‘Storm Doris raged up and down the country on the Thursday,’ said Reactive Repairs Co-ordinator Patricia Berry. ‘The next day, householders phoned us with reports of broken fences, asking for advice on what to do next.’

Most calls were about typical damage. Some people discovered they had ‘party fences’, which is not unusual. In such situations the repair costs are shared by owners of properties on both sides of the fence.

‘Some residents lost a few roof tiles here and there,’ said Patricia, ‘but there were no reports of debris causing injury. Some fences may have been getting old anyway, so this is an ideal opportunity to have them replaced.’

No trees came down on MMHS properties, as far as the Society knows. ‘One resident said they would get help to fix fence panels, so the Society wouldn’t have to pay labour,’ Patricia explained. ‘That was very thoughtful. But the main thing is that householders shouldn’t worry about it. It’s within the Society’s remit to repair any damaged fences or roof tiles.’

TAKE ACTION

Weather incidents happen every year, and MMHS respond accordingly. ‘If damage is bad, call a contractor and take appropriate action to make everything safe,’ said Patricia.

‘Then call the office at the earliest opportunity to report the damage and obtain advice on how to proceed. We want to encourage residents we are here to help. If you’re unsure, always ask.’ (Photo: Clive Price)

How to survive a bathroom refurb

It became a friendly neighbourhood joke to ask Joyce Peacock when would she cut the ribbon to celebrate her brand new bathroom.

That’s because Joyce is so delighted with work on her MMHS home near Bournemouth. ‘It’s been beautifully done,’ she said. Joyce had coped with vintage ablutions in her home for some time. Enough was enough – despite the disruption that replacing the bathroom would cause.

GO WITH IT

‘I was hesitant because I’m 84 – and it’s a lot of upheaval,’ she said. ‘But I had to do something about it.’ The Society replaced her retro restroom with an electric shower, low-level tray and screen, toilet, sink with vanity unit, tiling, handrails and safety floor. They also added a basin to a WC.

It was a few weeks’ work. But Joyce found the workmen ‘very nice and very respectful to me’, allaying her fears. ‘They did what they could to minimise the mess,’ she added.

Joyce has some advice to give other MMHS residents who may be reluctant about major works. ‘You need to go with it,’ she said, ‘rather than fretting about how long it’s going to take or how much mess it’s going to make.’

She realised there was a pattern to the project. ‘On the first day or two it’s exciting, and everything moves fast,’ said Joyce. ‘Then you get to the next stage, and you think, “Should I have gone for this?” But at the end of the work, it’s nice. You’re pleased with it.’

KEEP OPTIMISTIC

Joyce encouraged other residents to ‘keep optimistic’ with such refurbishments. ‘For days afterwards, I was going in to the bathroom, looking at it and saying, “Is this really mine?”’

Property Services Director Godfried Addo remembered how Joyce had ‘grave concerns’ about the project. ‘However, she’s now “over the moon” about the resulting improvement and its positive impact on her well being,’ he said.

‘And the property team feel flushed with success!’

Hello and goodbye

board members page 1 - 1Six new members have joined the MMHS Board, as the Society gets ready to meet future demands and opportunities.

WELCOMED MEMBERS

Debbie Faulkner, newly appointed as Chair, welcomed the Board members at the Society’s recent Annual General Meeting. Debbie joined the Board in 2009. Her late father Revd Tony Bullock was a resident of the Society, and her mother Shirley remains so today.

The new members are – Alexander Campbell, Paul Haslam, Catherine Hastings, Revd Glynn Lister, Revd Charles New and Revd Alan Taylor.

Ros Peedle became Vice Chair of the Board. Revd Alan Ashton and Revd Richard Teal were re-appointed for a further year. Revd Jacquie Evans was re-appointed for a further three years.

SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS

In her Chair’s report for the AGM, Debbie acknowledged the significant contributions of the Board members who had stepped down recently – Mrs Ann Brook, Revd Dr John Harrod and Dr John Lander.

You can read the new Board members’ profiles here.

Follow the adventure trail

joy-murphy-for-website-1A thread of adventure runs through the fabric of Roof ‘n’ Roots – the quarterly newsletter of the Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society.

The Winter 2016 edition – out in time for Christmas – features the moving story of MMHS resident Joy Murphy (pictured). Joy, who lives in a Society property at Aylesbury, helps run a humble charity called Karibuni Children – which supports 14 projects for children in poverty in Kenya.

COMMON THREAD

MMHS resident and former chair of the board Revd Pat Billsborrow has written a reflective piece on a life of adventure. ‘Retirement – or “sitting down” – doesn’t mean waiting for the inevitable end,’ she says. ‘It’s full of opportunities if only we’re prepared to look for them.’

A special round-up article Winter? That’s A Wrap! offers plenty of practical advice not only to make the most of the season but also to take up new interests and projects.

‘I’ve noticed there’s a common thread of adventure and trying out new ideas running through this winter edition of Roof ‘n’ Roots,’ said CEO Mairi Johnstone. ‘We all wrote independently of each other – and came up with these similar themes. Why not ask God for something new in 2017? Let’s stay “fresh and green” for as long as we can.’

METHODIST UPBRINGING

The edition also offers some insight into the religious beliefs of George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars saga of films. With the latest of these movies Rogue One now on general release, people are encouraged to look out for any spiritual references to Lucas’ Methodist upbringing.

Roof ‘n’ Roots is sent out to all MMHS residents, but family and friends – and supporting churches – are most welcome to receive a copy, too. Please contact the Society and let us know if you’d like to enjoy this publication on a regular basis.

Keep heat up and bills down

british-gas-engineerEnergy bills can be a big concern. But there are little things you can do to reduce them. Here’s a seven-point checklist for you:

1 Service your heating system – an efficient boiler will save on heating bills. British Gas service boilers for all MMHS residents. You should hear automatically from British Gas. If you haven’t received a service appointment a couple of weeks before your current certificate expires, phone MMHS on 020 7467 5270.

2 Room temperature controls – your thermostat should be set between 18°C and 21°C. By installing thermostatic radiator valves, you can set different temperatures in different rooms. This installation is usually carried out during heating upgrade works by MMHS.

3 Check your radiators – if a radiator is warm at the bottom but cool at the top, that could indicate air in the system. Please let the British Gas engineer know when they service your boiler.

4 Loft insulation – insulating your loft is an effective way to reduce energy waste and lower heating bills. Normally, MMHS properties are insulated. If in doubt, contact your local authority about grants for loft insulation.

5 Letterboxes – check to see if your letterbox is draughty, which can lead to cold hallways and a potential increase in fuel bills. Installing a letterbox draught excluder is an inexpensive and easy DIY job.

6 Windows – energy-efficient glazing keeps your home warmer, allowing less heat to be lost. Double glazing is usually fitted as standard to MMHS properties. If your property lacks double glazing, you may have indicated this in our recent repair and maintenance survey. If you didn’t tell us then, please let us know now.

7 Use curtains to retain heat – it’s important to get as much sunlight into your home during the day as possible. As soon as dusk falls, remember to close curtains to retain heat.

Wrap up your home – as well as your presents – this Christmas!

Plug into peace of mind

electrical-test-2-1You cannot afford to be neutral about electrical safety. That’s the message from the MMHS property team as they launch a major five-year programme of electrical testing of the Society’s 900 properties.

PEACE OF MIND

Homes are always tested before a resident moves in. But MMHS wants to make sure those people continue to enjoy their properties with complete peace of mind.

Electrical testing is a legal requirement in Scotland and Wales, and the Society has inspected most of its properties there. It will soon be mandatory in England, where MMHS has already started testing.

The Society has appointed national contractors Henderson Electrical Services to carry out the inspections over the next five years. HES are approved by the NICEIC, a leading voluntary regulatory body.

Each test takes around four hours. Minor issues like a broken socket or faulty light fitting can be repaired during the inspection. More serious concerns will need a second appointment. A letter explaining the programme has been sent out with the latest edition of the MMHS newsletter Roof ‘n’ Roots. Main points covered in the letter include:

– HES contacts the householder to arrange the engineer’s visit;
– the resident doesn’t have to move any household goods before arrival;
– when the engineer calls, the tenant must check their ID;
– the electrical supply will be switched off for 15 minutes during the test;
– the engineer will write up a full report of their inspection.

ENJOY YOUR HOME

‘MMHS has always ensured electrical installations are safe,’ said Reactive Maintenance Manager Glenn Fry. ‘It’s now become a legal requirement for us to carry out inspections every five years.

‘The benefit for the householder is that they can continue to enjoy their home, knowing their electrical installations are safe.’ An NICEIC guide to electrical testing is available to download here. (Photo: Henderson Electrical Services)

Blessings hit home

Home blessings became a talking point at this year’s Methodist Conference – thanks to a new prayer resource made available exclusively from the MMHS stand.

CELTIC ARTWORK

People visited the Society’s display just to take away their own copy of Pocket Prayers For Home Blessing by Mary Fleeson. Illustrated with striking Celtic-style artwork, the collection offers prayers for every room of the home.

Some ministers said they’d been asked to conduct a ‘blessing service’ in church members’ homes, and had wondered which material to use. They claimed to have found the ideal resource when they saw Pocket Prayers on the MMHS stand.

Another Conference exhibitor took a copy to a friend’s house, and returned the next day to say, ‘It works!’ Their friend had felt much better after using blessings in the collection, which tells the reader, ‘Praying through your home and neighbourhood will make a difference’.

The Society sent copies to ordinands as a gift on their special day. One new minister expressed his thanks on Facebook. ‘It was a joy to receive a card and a blessing from MMHS on my ordination,’ he wrote.

Pocket Prayers was supplied by Lindisfarne Scriptorium, a family business run by Mary Fleeson and husband Mark. Based on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, the couple are inspired in their work by the early Celtic saints.

TIDAL ISLAND

Lindisfarne was key to the Christian faith being spread throughout the North of England in the seventh century. The tidal island was the location of a Celtic – later Benedictine – monastic community.

Brought up in a Methodist home, Mary Fleeson has another link with the Church – she supplied designs for use at the 2010 Conference. ‘We were really chuffed to have been involved,’ she said. ‘It was a real honour.’

Copies of Pocket Prayers For Home Blessing can now be purchased direct from Lindisfarne Scriptorium.

We can be heroes

A dashing young captain who went on the air; finance ‘angels’ who fly to your aid; the amateur gardener who takes us to new heights – it looks like MMHS is all about people with extraordinary abilities. But they’re just some of the subjects covered in the autumn edition of Roof ‘N’ Roots.

WARTIME CAPTAIN

Society resident Revd Eric Blennerhassett shares his story. A former captain in World War II, Eric became a Methodist minister because he wanted to do his bit towards making a better world. He went on to help pioneer religious broadcasting in the UK.

Readers will also find a profile piece on the MMHS finance team – who handle a whole range of money matters for the Society and its residents. ‘We’re here to serve the residents,’ said Financial Services Director Atawa Aryee. ‘Nothing is too hard for us.’

In addition, the MMHS property team give latest news on gas checks and boiler servicing. An arrangement with British Gas has worked out well – so the Society has renewed an existing contract with them. ‘Getting gas checks right is one of the biggest challenges in housing,’ said Reactive Maintenance Manager Glenn Fry.

SOUL MAKING

Society resident Revd Barrie Tabraham writes a reflective piece in our Home Truths series. Barrie’s article focuses on the garden, offering spiritual insights into the ‘vale for soul-making’ where we can rediscover our childlike sense of wonder. There’s even a separate ‘arts and culture’ focus on the most famous superhero. Yes, we found out Clark Kent’s denominational links.

‘I hope you enjoy reading this second edition of our newsletter,’ said CEO Mairi Johnstone. ‘There’s plenty to enlighten, equip and even entertain.’ Householders should have received their print copies already. An online version can be downloaded here. (Photo: Revd Eric Blennerhassett relaxing at his MMHS home)

Diamonds are forever

diamond-wedding-picture-4-1It’s easy to get carried away when celebrating your 60th wedding anniversary – especially if the party takes place by the Anderton Boat Lift.

That’s how Society residents Revd Pat Billsborrow and husband Bob marked their Diamond Wedding. They had a summer ‘do’ in the marquee next to this massive machine that’s perched on riverbanks like a giant iron spider.

PARTY SETTING

Built in 1875 to carry cargo boats 50 foot from the Weaver Navigation to the Trent and Mersey Canal, the lift is a popular party setting. Pat and Bob enjoyed their anniversary there – with 28 friends and relations.

That number included four children and their spouses, 12 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. In addition, Bob’s best man turned up with his wife – the two men had known each other since infant school.

Pat – a former chair of the MMHS board – was also celebrating her 80th birthday. That meant she and her 86-year-old husband received a staggering total of nearly 100 cards to mark these two life moments.

‘Because of Bob’s mobility problems, the family organised something here in Northwich by the boat lift,’ said Pat. ‘The children could play in the playground and watch the canal boats. We had a very nice afternoon.’

The journey to their Diamond Wedding started in 1953 when Bob asked Pat for a dance at the Corporation Hall, Stockton-on-Tees. ‘He was a Scout and I was a Guide,’ Pat recalled. ‘He had brown knees from Egypt!’

diamond wedding pictureLASTING MARRIAGE

Dating in the 50s was different than today. ‘It was a lot more inhibited,’ Pat smiled. They got married at St Hilda’s Church, Hartlepool, in July 1956. They spent their honeymoon in Edinburgh.

So what’s the secret of such a long lasting marriage? ‘Oh, putting up with each other,’ Pat laughed. ‘Well, he’s put up with me!’ (Pictured – Pat and Bob with their anniversary card from the Queen, and the happy couple with their wider family)

Residents back the bulletin

Positive feedback has almost gone through the roof for a new publication launched by the Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society.

AIR OF CARE

Residents have made an overwhelming response to ‘Roof “N” Roots’, the Society’s quarterly bulletin that was presented to people attending this year’s Methodist Conference. Free print copies were distributed from the MMHS exhibition stand. An electronic edition was given away on memory sticks.

Householders emailed the London office, saying how they loved being able to see pictures of some of the MMHS staff they’d only ever spoken to over the phone. Others spoke to Society staff at the MMHS Conference stand.

‘Congratulations on an excellent newsletter,’ said one couple. ‘It enabled tenants to link staff members’ names with faces – in addition to supplying helpful information.’

The couple felt the publication had ‘an air of assurance and care’ as well as ‘articles of wider interest’. They believed the traditional print format would be appreciated by householders without computers.

‘We also welcome the return of the newsletter as renewing a valuable link between the Society office and the tenants,’ they said. ‘It’s been missed over recent years, and its return is a sign of the restoration of communication to the benefit of us all – and the well-being of the Society.’

IT’S A TONIC

Another householder described ‘Roof “N” Roots’ as ‘a tonic’. He said the publication is welcomed as ‘a personal communication by word and photograph’ that is ‘pastorally helpful’. He liked the reflective piece by board member Revd Dr John Harrod and the introduction by CEO Mairi Johnstone.

Expressing her thanks for ‘Roof “N” Roots’, yet another resident said it was ‘particularly interesting’ to see photographs of the property team. ‘It’s good to be able to picture the human beings we need to contact from time to time,’ she added. (Pictured – Society tenant and past Conference President Baroness Kathleen Richardson was among the many visitors to the MMHS stand. Her story featured in the launch edition of ‘Roof “N” Roots’. Photo: Clive Price)