Sale West

Irwell Valley, ‘variable service charges’ and what you really need to know…

As some of you will be aware, Irwell Valley Housing Association are planning to implement an ‘Intention to vary your tenancy agreement and charge you a variable service charge’.

You’ll know this because they wrote to every tenant back in September, to ask your opinion and for feedback – but did you actually read the letter or just throw it in the bin?

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I’m asking because, according to Irwell Valley, they received only 139 replies out of a possible 2580. That is just 5% of residents.

They also received a petition with 102 signatures on it. That’s 102 residents out of 2580 that currently live in property owned by the housing association.

It’s these statistics that make me think that perhaps you didn’t read that letter after all, if you had there would have been far more response from the letter in September and loads more signatures on the petition. That’s why I’m writing up this blog, to point out a couple of ways in which these changes will potentially affect you when they come in to effect on the 1st of April next year.

Firstly, Irwell Valley did ‘note and listen’ to all your responses and held a panel session in order to ‘review them in full’ – there were two resident board members present but at the time of writing I’m not sure who they are.

Either way, there were no comments relating to the variation in the tenancy agreement and they have decided to go ahead anyway, from April next year.

So, why are they introducing the charge? It’s because during a recent review it was pointed out that residents in Sale and Haughton Green weren’t paying for services that were being charged for in other areas and, to ‘ensure fairness’ they decided that you can pay it too.

At the panel it was raised that residents had queried what happens to the power generated by the solar panels on the high rises, as well as any income from the masts also on the high rises. Irwell Valley explained that the energy from the solar panels is used within the building to reduce the amount of energy used in communal areas and this will be reflected in the service charge to residents, although it will be negligible really. The income from the masts is not reserved only for the buildings they’re attached to – Irwell Valley say that this money is ‘used alongside rental income to invest in homes and neighbourhoods’.
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Now for the really interesting stuff…

What exactly does ‘Variable Service Charge‘ mean anyway?  Each year Irwell Valley will assess how much they expect to spend on providing services, this means that the charge is estimated based on the previous year’s costs or estimated costs. At the end of the year you will receive a statement showing the actual costs and any over/under charges. The service charge will then be adjusted for the following year.

So, for the first year they will be working on estimates that could be quite reasonable. However, if there’s a spate of vandalism, houses being damaged, fencing being stolen or general stoopidity leading to damage, you can expect your service charge to go up and up and up…..

Interestingly, Irwell Valley say that the cost of the service charge could vary amongst similar properties – for example, looking at the blocks, ‘the number of repairs required to each block will change each year, e.g. one block could require 3 repairs to the door entry system in one year and another block could have no repairs, therefore the first block will have a higher service charge that year’.

In theory that could also mean various roads or sections of the estate could have differing charges – if you live in a patch that sees a lot of damage you could see a rise in your service charge. Hardly fair if it’s not you or yours causing the damage in the first place….

…which leads me to the next possible bone of contention.sale-west-sign

If you are in receipt of full housing benefit/universal credit the service charge will be covered by your benefits and you shouldn’t be required to pay any additional cost yourself. You do need to inform Universal Credit yourself as Irwell Valley won’t be doing so, but if you receive housing benefit you don’t even need to do that as they will inform them themselves.

However, if you are working full-time or not in receipt of the benefits above, you’ll be expected to pay it yourself on top of your rent.

I pity those that are out at work and not receiving benefits when they come home to find the kid up the road has damaged yet more property that will increase the Service Charge that their parents will be unaware of because they don’t pay it themselves…..

Maybe this is a clever ploy by Irwell Valley to get residents to stand up to the few that spoil it for the rest, after all, what better way to bring it to your attention and bring about a little community action than to hit you in the pocket.

If you feel you may have money problems paying your service charge you should contact the Irwell Valley Income Management Team as soon as possible on 0800 035 22 11 – they will be able to offer you confidential help, advice and support.

Once you get the letter in February 2017 with the full breakdown of charges, Irwell valley will be holding a number of surgeries to allow you to meet with an IV colleague on a one-to-one basis and discuss your individual circumstances.

To try n end on a positive note, here’s a list of all the services you can expect to receive from Irwell Valley – please let us know if they fail to meet any of them n don’t forget to take a pic and post it on SaleWestVoice 🙂

  1. Cleaning communal windows (blocks) – quarterly, in March, June, September and December
  2. Communal cleaning (blocks) – monthly and includes all ledges cleaned, nosing on stairs and bannister rails cleaned, sweep n mop all hard floors, dust, damp wipe of skirting, clean of internal fixtures n fittings, check on external door and light fittings for cobwebs and clean all internal door glazing.
  3. Communal Electricity (blocks) – you’re paying for it in your service charge so you can expect the communal area to be lit, warm and with a working lift.
  4. Lift Service Contract (blocks) – again, it’s included in the charge so you should expect to have a fully operational lift that’s maintained monthly.
  5. Repairs to Lift (blocks) – Irwell Valley have taken into consideration previous breakdowns etc so if there are more this year expect the charge to go up.
  6. Estate Maintenance (EVERYONE) – This cost is included in the service charge and is divided by the total number of properties on the estate. The service is provided by Greenfingers and Nurture and you can expect grass cut fortnightly throughout the growing season, kerb edges and fence lines kept neat n tidy, grass areas to be edged during the dormant season, weeds removed in shrub beds and on hard surfaces as well as all shrub and hedges to be pruned to a neat ‘hedge like’ appearance. Remember that fly-tipping issues and bin emptying will remain responsibility of Trafford Council.

 

Irwell Valley will also be charging a 15% management fee which is calculated by taking the cost of each service and multiplying it by 15% – this is ‘to ensure services are delivered to a high quality n provide value for money, the cost of working out the service charge and the cost of collecting said service charge. Funny times eh 🙂

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BeKindtoyourmind – mindfulness comes to Sale West

Bekindtoyourmind is a community interest company based in Manchester offering classes in Sale West and beyond, with the aim of reaching out to help people in the community suffering with their emotional well being.

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Mindfulness offers peace of mind

Their mindfulness classes and workshops work with residential, public and commercial sectors, in both group and individual settings, inviting the attendees to look at their thoughts, feelings and emotional states from a different perspective.

Set up by husband and wife team Thom and Julie, Bekindtoyourmind classes have been running on Sale West for over a year.

BeKindtoyourmind at Sale West Community Centre

BeKindtoyourmind at Sale West Community Centre

Thom said, “I’ve been a resident of Sale West since I was 12 years old and as I grew up I identified with a lot of the issues that people who live on the estate struggle with. I am proud of where I live and when I discovered the revelation of mindfulness it was only natural for me to want to share the tools and concepts that have made such a positive impact to my own well being with the community.”

The response from the community has been very impressive to say the least – the first session saw 19 people attend, the majority from Sale West. Thom has been encouraged with the growing numbers since, explaining it normally takes around three or four sessions for people to ‘get it’ before they feel empowered to take back control of their own lives and make clear, proactive choices.

Thom is especially thankful to Marie Price and Dan Shelston of Trafford Wellbeing / Housing Trust, as well as Irwell Valley Housing Association for the support and encouragement they have given him, including funding from the latter which enabled him to undertake training in order to become a fully qualified mindfulness teacher.

IMAG0026When asked for ‘top tips’ for getting the most out of mindfulness, and if it is something that anyone can master, Thom replied, “Mindfulness is about learning to ‘BE’ rather than ‘DO’.

“Our society constantly promotes ‘doing’ – reaching goals, making lists, setting agendas, thinking of new ideas, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact if we look around we can see that it has produced things that make our life easier and enjoyable, but too much of this ‘driving’ part of our nature is the cause for much of the stress, anxiety, depression and other states that hinder our well-being. Now, if we can learn to ‘BE’, meaning to accept things as they are at this very moment and to pay attention to what we are doing right now, we begin to soothe our minds and give the thinking mind a rest. 

“Mindfulness is very easy to learn and once the concepts are grasped it becomes a valuable part of life that can help us to become more calm and content, as well as helping us become more resilient towards states of mind that cause us suffering.”shutterstock_95792515

Bringing mindfulness to Sale West is obviously important for Thom, I asked him how he thought the possible closure of the community centre would affect the classes held there and while he said people could adapt if it was a temporary situation but it would be “a sad day for the people of Sale West” if it were to be permanent.

Thom said, “ I believe the community centre has the potential to be the pulse of Sale West. With the right people, right ideas and right services it can literally change lives. The nucleus it already there, it just needs some fresh ideas. I was motivated to offer my services to the community and wouldn’t want to move away from Sale West but if I’m pushed, I’m pushed. I’d have to take my services elsewhere and that would contradict my initial drive for starting Bekindtoyourmind.

After attending a Bekindtoyourmind session at the community centre I agree it would be a terrible shame to lose such a fantastic service.

Costing just £3 a session, on a pay-as-you-go basis the classes are exceptional value for money. I was made to feel welcome and have never seen the Sunshine Café looking so cosy with dimmed lights, incense, the lot – wonderful.

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The session began with a mindfulness chocolate eating exercise – we had to really take our time, noting the smell, texture and, last of all taste. I really enjoyed this part although when eaten in a mindful manner, one chocolate was definitely enough J

Moving on to a mindful meditation I was soon relaxed and feeling calm for the first time that day, maybe a little too calm as I almost slid off my seat and was squinting when the lights came on at the end of the hour long session.

I can’t recommend Bekindtoyourmind highly enough and would encourageimages-2 copy everyone to give it a go – after all there’s nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

Bekindtoyourmind currently run two weekly classes with plans for more in the future. Monday they are at Sale West Community centre on Newbury Avenue for an hour with the class starting at 7pm. On a Thursday they hold a class in Timperley, in the meeting room at Timperley Village Library, again for an hour and also starting at 7pm.

They also offer mindfulness workshops at a discounted rate of £40, held at the Friends Meeting House, Park Road in Sale – for more details or to book please contact Julie@bekindtoyourmind.co.uk

For more information visit www.bekindtoyourmind.co.uk or find them on Twitter @kindmindgb

This article first appeared in the launch edition of Sale West Voice Magazine 🙂

Mindfulness double page feature in Sale West Voice Magazine

Mindfulness double page feature in Sale West Voice Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

Sale west through the years

Back in 2004 the Manchester Evening News ran an article about a notorious estate in Sale, titled ‘No-go estate that defied the odds’, going on to say it had been described as ‘an island of deprivation in a sea of affluence.’

 The estate they referred to was Sale West, or the ‘Racecourse Estate’ as it was known back then, with many of the roads named after UK racecourses.

Manor Avenue

Manor Avenue

 

Built amid high optimism in the 1960’s, as part of Manchester regeneration, the Racecourse was constructed on agricultural land and used to move people out of areas surrounding the city centre in questionably named ‘slum clearance programmes.’

This solved a couple of problems for the council hierarchy, or ‘Manchester Mafia’ as they were called by a few in the know.

Firstly, it freed up land that could be used to build luxury homes for the high

Manor Avenue Overspill estate 1964

Manor Avenue Overspill estate 1964

earners willing to pay extortionate rent or sky-high mortgage rates, turning low income generating neighbourhoods into almost instant cash cows. Backed up with a drive in the 90’s to repopulate the ‘new and improved’ city, and with property prices at an all time high, there was some serious money made from people eager to live near the centre.

Sale West signSecondary, and perhaps even more controversially, there were some areas where residents were deemed by the council ‘the least involved with their neighbourhood’ or ‘least accessible for social professionals’. Hulme, Gorton and other parts of East Manchester were targeted, resulting in many families being offered, and accepting ‘a new home on a new estate’, relocating to Sale West.

Supposed to be ‘a jewel in the crown’ of Manchester council’s estate programme, the Racecourse faced problems from the beginning and quickly became a hotbed of crime and antisocial behaviour.

Built as a so-called overspill estate, owned by Manchester but situated in Cheshire, Sale West proved to be anything but the gem anticipated by the council. Residents found themselves feeling detached and cut off from services while violent crime was quickly on the rise.

Manor Ave

By the mid nineties, many of the properties were run down or empty and the
area had become neglected. The only bus on the estate was cancelled as drivers refused to venture there any longer, sick of smashed windows and abuse from the local youths.

The racecourse had developed a terrible reputation but hit an all time low in March 1997, when local shopkeeper, Ian Marshall confronted two robbers in the off licence he ran on West Parade and was shot dead.

Police were under intense pressure to produce a result following criticism of their lack of response to the previous problems on the estate and very quickly David Ashberry was arrested and charged with the murder, later being sentenced to 14 years in prison.

IMG_6245Measuring a lofty 6 foot 4 inches tall, David has always maintained his innocence, a claim backed up by several witnesses at the scene who, when questioned by the police at the time, stated that there were three robbers, all masked and all definitely under 6 foot. He is currently fighting to clear his name and is supported by a group called Freedom, which works with people who claim they have been wrongly convicted.

Informants on the estate at the time spoke about a dark blue car being involved and refuted claims made by police that Ashberry was ‘obsessed with guns and had a shrine to them in his flat.’ These claims turned out to be totally unsubstantiated, no firearms of any description were ever linked to him and Ashberry was eventually convicted on the only evidence they had against him, a statement written by a woman who lived near the scene of the crime.

The murder of local lad Ian was the final straw for many residents and when the council were approached by Irwell Valley in March 2000, offering to buy the troublesome estate from them it was ‘warmly received’ by all involved.

Following Irwell Valley Housing Association success in securing the estate or ‘stock’ as they refer to it, the transfer of Sale West Estate, formally the Racecourse, from Manchester City Council, a long term redevelopment master plan was drafted, including improvements to existing houses, demolition of so called ‘hard to let’ properties and redevelopment of various vacant land sites dotted around the estate.

When Irwell Valley took over Sale West around 80 per cent of properties were considered long term ‘unlettable’ by Manchester City Council, over 70 per cent of residents were dependent on social benefits and vandalism, youth congregating and empty, abandoned properties were the top three priorities highlighted in a local area consultation.

Manor Court

Manor Court

By this time buses and taxis had totally stopped venturing onto the estate, segregating residents and instilling the ‘no-go’ zone mentality further still.

Manchester City Council had allowed the estate to fall to wreck and ruin, merely displacing the problems and never really solving them – at the expense of the residents they offered a ‘fresh start in a great place to live’.

Irwell Valley pioneered a scheme called Gold Service back in 1998 and it had proved to be a great success when implicated in other ‘troublesome’ estates they managed so it was no surprise when they launched it on Sale West soon after acquisition.

The Gold Scheme is a great example of the housing associations entrepreneurialism – developed to ‘aid regeneration of deprived areas into more pleasant places to live’, it focuses on residents rather than housing stock, defining them as local customers and putting their needs first on the regeneration agenda. So far so good.

The concept is that ‘good’ residents are rewarded with additional services and amenities. By providing these ‘perks’ the association tries to increase the involvement of residents and, in doing so, their attachment to the housing association and neighbourhood.

This explicit distinction between good and bad tenants has forced local governments to rethink some of their equality-based housing policies.

The assumption behind the scheme is learning by moral example: seeing the benefits neighbours receive triggers residents to comply with the behavioural rules set by the housing association in order to become eligible for the same rewards. This will not only improve the behaviour of residents but also the reputation of the area to outsiders, this in turn, they hope, will attract new and especially affluent residents to the area. Best garden competition anyone?

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It’s no coincidence that the new, private houses were built around Sale West around eight years after Irwell Valley took over either. The association believes that ‘middle-class groups will only feel at home in deprived neighbourhoods when the behaviour of antisocial residents has changed’.

First they addressed these issues using the Gold Service system and then, when they felt the time was right the new houses went up creating a new revenue source offering ‘housing specifically designed and priced for middle class families’.

Another strategy employed by Irwell Valley to create ‘a pleasant place to live’ is attracting the right kind of people to buy the properties, people who can serve a as good role models to the other residents, interesting fact – employees of the city council and social services were given priority when the new houses were released for sale.

Sale West is definitely more than a ‘pleasant place to live’ today, but how much of that is really down to Irwell Valley and their almost Orwellian strategies to build a better society

watching us watching you

watching us watching you?

That is not to say that they haven’t assisted; the money spent on housing has gone some way to make them more habitable, although many are still plagued with damp and mould that Irwell Valley are slow to respond to, to say the least.

Gardens are generally neat and tidy, the Gold Service embraced by 90 per cent of residents and antisocial behaviour reports are at an all time low.

This is despite the fact that Irwell Valley has slowly but surely reduced the ‘extra’ services they offered at the start of their take over. They opened the Phoenix Centre in Sale, providing training, help with interviews and access to educational funds – open only to those residents who had achieved Gold BUS STOPService status with the association. This closed in 2005, not long after they withdrew the very successful estate Rangers they had employed to help with both anti social behaviour and general maintenance of properties, gardens and communal areas.

The ones really responsible for all these changes and more are the people who live on Sale West. The ones that have a sense of pride in their community and will go the extra mile to make sure it’s a great place to live, because for them, pleasant just isn’t enough.

The future of Sale West is again in the balance, this time from the threat of budget cuts severing many of the amenities they still have. The library,

Coppice library

Coppice library

community centre and youth club all face closure as Trafford council attempts to make massive savings, seemingly at the expense of those already under increasing pressure.

Fortunately, Sale West is a
community that gains its strength from the people who live there, becoming the desirable place to live Manchester city council first envisaged when it was built; not from schemes and incentives that are dangled carrot-like in order to get them to comply however, but rather from the determination of many to make a change and that’s something that no amount of budget cuts can ever take away.

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Photographs taken by Kim K Photography. All are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced or used without permission and correct attribution 🙂

 

The edited version of this article first appeared in Sale West Voice Magazine

 

 

 

CONCERN AFTER ‘LAUGHING GAS’ CANISTERS FOUND AROUND SALE WEST

Nitrous Oxide canisters on Sale West

Nitrous Oxide canisters on Sale West

POLICE are carrying out extra patrols around Sale West after the trademarks of potentially lethal nitrous oxide – or ‘laughing gas’ – abuse were spotted this week.

Tiny capsules used in whipped cream dispensers were found behind both the library and shops on Coppice Avenue, with several also scattered on residential streets nearby.

Substance abusers pierce the top of the capsules, releasing the nitrous oxide, and then inhaling the

Canisters scattered in several 'hotspots'

Canisters scattered in several ‘hotspots’

gas.

This causes a head-rush as the body is starved of oxygen, leaving the user feeling dizzy and slurring their speech. However, more sinister, long-term effects include headaches, vomiting, nerve damage, paralysis and even death.

Adults can buy the capsules, freely available on the Internet, but it is illegal to sell or supply them to anyone under 18.

 

A mum who lives on Epsom Avenue said: “My children were playing out yesterday and the youngest came in with one of the used canisters in his hand.

“They’re everywhere, we saw at least twenty on the way to school and I had no idea what they were until I saw it on our community group, SaleWestVoice.

“Now I do know, I’m really worried, what if he had put it in his mouth?”

Used canister on Coppice Avenue

Used canister on Coppice Avenue

 

Safer Communities Officer, Dave Pilling said: “This is a growing problem across Trafford and we have strategies in place to try and eradicate it. I will be going into local schools to talk to children and staff about the dangers related to Nitrous Oxide and we welcome any information from the public about misuse in the area.”

 

Police Constable Rebecca Fox, part of Trafford South Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have been alerted to this issue and would like to reassure residents that any kind of anti-social behavior continues to be a priority.

 

“We have increased police patrols in the area to offer reassurance to the community and I would ask anyone who may have any concerns to speak to their local officer.”

For advice and support relating to the misuse of nitrous oxide please visit the FRANK website.

 

Loan Shark Week of Action launches in Sale West

 

SALEWESTVOICE are pleased to support Trafford Council during Loan Shark week of action.

Teaming up with Greater Manchester Police, the National Illegal Money Lending Team, SWAP, businesses and Sale West residents the aim is to tackle the impact of illegal Loan Shark operations in the area.

Nationally over 300,000 households are in debt to a Loan Shark.

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The week of action is following on from the success of a similar campaign in 2012, which saw local residents embark on a Loan Shark awareness work-shop, learning skills and tips that were then shared with the wider community.

Throughout the week SaleWestVoice (@swvm33) will be tweeting daily updates and statistics, as well as contact details of where to find help and advice on dealing with a Loan Shark.

Over on Facebook there is the stoploansharksproject and the Illegal Money Lending Team can be contacted via Twitter – @loansharknews

Loan Shark Week of Action will run from  Monday 3rd March through to Friday 7th, here’s a guide to what’s on….

  • Monday 3rd: The official launch is at 10am, at the Sunshine Cafe in Sale West Community Centre. The local press will be there, along with other partners from the Loan Shark week of action team.
  • Tuesday 4th: The morning will see Sid the Shark visiting Firs Primary School for morning assembly. In the afternoon Sid will swim over to Woodheys Primary School before relaxing for the evening:) The children at both schools will be encouraged to take part in a poster competition, with a prize for the winner:)
  • Tuesday 4th – Evening: Between 5pm and 7pm there will be a Loan Shark Stand at the Nisa Store on Manor avenue, where partners will be on-hand to offer advice.
  • Wednesday 5th: The Loan Shark Stand, along with partners offering advice, will be situated at the Tesco Store/Petrol Station on Manor Road between 5pm and 7pm.
  • Thursday 6th: In the afternoon, between 1pm and 3pm, the Loan Shark Stand will be at Firsway Health Centre before moving to the Co-Op on Ashton Village between 5pm and 7pm.
  • Friday 7th: Loan Shark week of action will end with the Loan Shark Stand and partners spending the afternoon, between 2pm and 4pm, at Bodmin Road Health Centre.

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There will be a questionnaire circulated throughout Sale West during the week too, including information on the local Credit Union and how to access the service.

 

For more information on the Credit Union and how it works see my previous article: Sale West Credit Union – The smart way to save.

 

Inspector Laura Burgess from Trafford South Integrated Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “The activities of these individuals [loan sharks] can cause misery among communities. We are pleased to be working with partner agencies to tackle this problem. I urge Sale West residents to contact the telephone number which will be displayed on banners and posters if the wish to discuss this issue.”

Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured over 300 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 190 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off just under £42 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 23,000 victims.

Head of the National Illegal Money Lending Team Tony Quigley said: “Illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities. These criminals are motivated by greed and have been known to use the worst kind of bully tactics to force people to pay back over the odds. We would urge anyone who is the victim of an illegal lender to call us in confidence on 0300 555 2222. Calls are answered 24/7 by a trained investigator.”

Here is a short video where the victim of a Loan Shark talks about her experience….

 

I’ll sign off with a couple of facts about loan sharks, and the various places you can contact for help and advice. Don’t suffer in silence and please don’t struggle alone….

  • The highest interest charged by a loan shark was calculated at 131,000% APR…
  • Debts to a loan shark can not be legally enforced – once they’ve been caught you are under no legal obligate to repay.

There are several ways to report a loan shark, here’s a few…

  1. Call the 24/7 confidential hotline number 0300 555 2222
  2. Texting ‘loan shark and your message’ to 60003
  3. Email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
  4. Log onto http://www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
  5. Via Facebook – stoploansharkproject

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New name for Altrincham Foodbank

 

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FROM the first of September 2013 the Altrincham foodbank will be renamed ‘Trafford South Foodbank’. This is to reflect the area they now cover, along with their new relationship with ‘The Churches Together in Sale’.

Since first opening in November 2012 the foodbank has fed over 780 people to date.

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Trafford residents in crisis are referred to the food bank by various social care agencies across the borough. They are given a voucher which cwn then be exchanged for three days worth of food, with a maximum of three vouchers per crisis.

Anyone needing to use the foodbank is advised to visit one of Trafford’s Citizens Advice Bureaux to discuss their situation.

The foodbank is encouraging all Trafford GP surgeries and other agencies interested in holding vouchers to contact them via email to info@altrincham.foodbank.org.uk

There are now three foodbank distribution centres, the most recent opening in Sale West in June 2012. Other centres are open at St Albans, Broadheath on Wednesdays and Timperley Methodist Church, Stockport Road on Fridays. There is a further distribution centre planned for St Francis Church, Budworth Road, set to open in September.

For details of how to get involved or for further information please visit http://www.altrincham.foodbank.org.uk

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Sale West Credit Union…The smart way to save

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SAVING money can be difficult, especially when you are on a tight budget or have a young family. Sale West Credit Union offers help and support, as well as an affordable way to save and borrow money, for anyone living in the M33 area.

Management Board members and retired postmasters, Avtar and Gladys Diggwa both volunteer at Sale West Credit Union, Newbury Avenue, which has been established for almost 20 years.

The scheme works by offering a savings plan where money can be safely invested then, after 12 weeks, a loan can be taken out for twice the amount saved and paid back in low interest manageable payments.

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They currently have almost 800 members and are keen to offer their service to more. Avtar, 68 said: “We encourage both thrift and saving and are happy to offer advice to anyone finding their finances a struggle.

“There has been an increase in demand for our services recently and we are hoping to open more branches as well as offer a crisis fund for those in severe need, in a bid to combat the pay day lender.”

The Sale West branch is open twice a week, Monday between 9.30 – 11.30am and again on Thursday evenings, from 7 until 8.30pm. There is also a collection office in Sale Moor and, with both planning for longer opening hours, more volunteers and investors are being sought.

For more information on saving with the Credit Union, or to volunteer please contact Avtar on 07802876318 or avtar.diggwa@ntlworld.com

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Mission not-so Impossible for Sale Trio

 

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THRILL seeking sisters Bella Forster and Sarah Bogart are back from their European Crumball Rally adventure, winning third place over-all and raising almost seven hundred pound for charity.

The girls were joined their mum, Chris Bogart, who stepped in when friend Kelly Johnson fell ill at the last minute.

The trio – from the Sale West estate took part in Crumball Rally, a three-day annual event driving from France to Prague in a customized Peugeot 206.

Raising money for three charities, the girls took part in the race called Mission Impossible, covering 1,500 miles and passing through four countries whilst completing a series of challenges.

Bella, 34, who lives on Chepstow Avenue, Sale said: “ One of the funniest challenges was when we drove through Switzerland dressed as Smurfs.”

Whilst in fancy dress the team had to navigate across The Stelvio Pass, which boasts the highest stretch of road in the Eastern Alps, it was here that they came across a fellow driver that had broke down.

Stopping to offer sandwiches and water, as well as replacing a faulty fuse, the girl’s kindness was rewarded when they finished the race and were declared overall third, for both best car design and team spirit.

Chris Bogart, 52 and grandmother of 19 said:  “It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, and I loved every minute of it.”

The girls are planning on returning to Crumball next year, in a bid to raise more money for their chosen charities.

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Europe-bound for charity car rally

SISTERS Bella Forster and Sarah Bogart have teamed up with friend Kelly Johnson for the fund-raising adventure of a lifetime across Europe.

They are taking part in The Crumball Rally, a three day annual event where they will be driving from France to Prague in a customised Peugeot 206.

The race is called Mission Impossible, covers 1500 miles and passes through Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany.

mission route map

Raising money for three different charities, the artwork on the car reflects this with the creative colours and design.

Bella, 34, who lives on Chepstow Avenue, Sale said: “I support MIND and chose the jigsaw piece to symbolise how puzzling mental health can be. Sarah’s supporting Cancer Research with the pink bodywork whilst the blue represents Kelly’s choice of charity, The Alzheimer’s Society.

rally pic

They have already raised over £700 and have had lots of support from local business owners including J.Davidsons Scrap Metal Processors in Broadheath donating the car and a full tank of petrol whilst Quayside Bakery, Eccles are supplying them with bread and doughnuts for the journey as well as making a generous £300 cash donation.

The donated Peugeot 206 has a fabulous spray job, done by Sarah, 30 and the clutch has been fitted by mechanic student Kelly, 29.

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The trio, who have six children between them, are eager to raise as much cash and awareness for their chosen charities as possible and welcome all donations, as well as advertising space on their car for business owners wanting to support the cause.

For more information, or to make a donation please contact Bella on 07825 642870 or email bellaforster@hotmail.co.uk

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A morning with the police…

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Have you ever wondered what the police do behind the scenes or how they prioritise issues in your area?

Greater Manchester Police recently began a new initiative where members of the public could  go out on the beat and share the experience via social media, as community reporter.

I decided to apply as I was intrigued as to what the role of police officer in my local area (Sale West) would be and how they play their part in keeping our community safe and crime free.

The first community reporter, Harriet Blake, went out with the police in Chorlton and shared her experiences via Youtube and a blog post on Netmums.

As you can see Harriet really got behind the scenes, had a camera crew, attended a team brief and also met with Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

I was very excited and a little nervous when I received an email in April telling me I had been successful and a date would be made for me to go out with local police.

After a long wait I finally got an email asking me to be at Altrincham Police Station on Wednesday June 19 at noon and also to sign and return the disclaimer, indemnity and other related documents attached.

It was at this point that I began to realise that my experience was not going to be at all like the one portrayed by Harriet.

No camera crew for me, no team brief and certainly no meeting with the Deputy Chief Constable.

Arriving at Altrincham Police Station around 11.30am, I was greeted by the officer on the desk who then went to find out who was expecting me. Having no name as reference this took a while.Eventually I was informed that someone had forgotten to pass the information on regarding my visit and they couldn’t actually accommodate me that afternoon.

The officers that I spoke to had not heard of the community reporter role and I had to explain why I wanted to go out with them also, why I had specifically asked for Sale West.

I explained that the role of community reporter was something the police had initiated and that I was to share my experience on social media. I clarified the choice of area by pointing out that I am co-founder of SaleWestVoice and, having recently shared my experience of visiting the cctv office covering Sale West it seemed a logical choice.

We rearranged for Friday June 21 at 10am and I was assured that I would accompany an officer in and around Sale West, perhaps focussing on fly tipping and bike crime as they are among the current issues faced.

Friday morning was crisp and bright as I once again set off for the police station, this time I was indeed met by an officer who was to take me out on patrol around Sale West and discuss what the police are doing to keep us safe.

We set off towards Sale and were soon on the estate where we drove around as the officer explained that he was looking for suspicious vehicles or anything else untoward as is part of the daily routine.

I am happy to say that there were no suspicious vehicles and all was peaceful and quiet.

Whilst we were on patrol in the car a motorist flagged us down to say that she had seen a man acting suspiciously nearby. After taking a description of the male and the reason for her concern the officer thanked her and went to look for him.

I asked on what grounds would he stop the man, should we find him and he explained that whilst the police can not stop anyone without a valid reason, the fact that he had been reported as acting suspicious was reason enough and, if found, the man would be stopped and possibly searched.

We did not find the man and nothing else was reported whilst we were out, other than an older resident expressing his concerns about the speed some people drive down Firsway which, I have to agree, is a valid point.

The officer and I discussed the fact that bike theft is a problem and he advised me that anyone who owns a bike can register it online with immobilise.com. If your bike is then stolen you have a much greater chance at getting it back, when it is unregistered it can be harder, sometimes even impossible to match it back with the rightful owner.

Registering only takes a few minutes and could save you a lot of hassle, not to mention cash. You can also register other gadgets on the site, click on the link above for more details.

Addressing fly tipping is an ongoing issue and there are many incidents of it taking place in and around Sale West. Not only is it an eyesore and a blight on the community as a whole, it is also an offence which can lead to a fine or imprisonment.

Fly tipping can be reported via the council website, and they have a rapid response unit available in all areas to deal with rubbish dumped on council land. As much of the rubbish is actually left on Irwell Valley land this can become an issue and should be reported to them directly.

The officer that took me on patrol was very professional and was happy to offer general advice on crime and communities. He pointed out that the key to low crime includes a strong community where everyone pulls together, having respect for each other as well as the immediate environment.

We finished our patrol just after lunch time and returned to Altrincham station, marking the end of my time on the beat….

I wish I could share more about what goes on behind the scenes, or what future plans the police have for Sale West. The fact is I can’t because I just don’t know. Whilst my time out with the police was interesting and totally different to my usual Friday morning, it wasn’t quite what I had imagined.

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On a brighter note there is lots of useful information on display at the station, here are some links that you may find useful:

  • INTERNET FRAUD AND SCAMS…If you have been affected by a fraudster or online scam you can report it to Action Fraud 24 hours a day, seven days a week on action fraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 1232 040. The website also lists a handy A-Z of different fraud types as well as their Top Tips to protect yourself from fraud.
  • DATA PROTECTION ACT 1998…The ACT covers personal information from which an individual may be identified. The information may be held on computers, other applications which process information automatically, paper records and other media, such as video and cctv. The police use personal information for a variety of purposes. In addition to holding personal information for the prevention and detection of crime, apprehending and prosecuting offenders, public safety, maintaining criminal record disposal histories and investigative and intelligence purposes.This information may be shared with other agencies and individuals, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REQUEST ACCESS TO ANY INFORMATION THAT YOU BELIEVE THE FORCE MAY HOLD ABOUT YOU AND TO BE TOLD WHAT IT IS TO BE USED FOR. To request this information simply visit THIS PAGE and download the application form, returning it to the address shown.
  • VIOLENCE…If you, or someone you know is at risk of violence from a partner YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK about an individual who you think may have a violent past. “Claire’s Law’ can be used by anyone and is a new scheme to protect victims of domestic violence. For more information on requesting a disclosure under this scheme visit gmp.police.uk or endthefear.co.uk.

On a final note, much of the intelligence the police rely on comes via CRIMESTOPPERS. They are also available on 0800 555 111 and any information can be given anonymously…..

Pic of police emblem with thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/jza84/ via creative commons.:)

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