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Aspire Housing’s 1st Customer Conference is a huge success

Over 100 customers attended Aspire Housing’s first customer event on Saturday 21st March and told staff about some of the issues facing them and their neighbourhoods and how they want to be involved in improving services in the future.

Local celebrity, Sam Plank of Focal Radio, hosted the event at Keele Hall, where customers heard from Aspire Housing’s Chief Executive Sinéad Butters and Mark Barrow, Chief Executive of Newcastle Borough Council.

Keynote speaker, Philip Ashmore, from the national Tenant Services Authority (the new regulator for homes owned by housing associations) advised customers about how they can influence decisions made at Government level.

Sinéad Butters said: “It’s fantastic to see so many of our customers attending our first customer conference and really getting involved in shaping our services.

She continued: “Together we have already achieved so much and I am really looking forward to building on this in the future.”

The day also gave people the opportunity to take part in workshops on areas such as: tackling anti-social behaviour; helping people get back into work; independent living and many more.

The event concluded with Aspire Housing’s 2009 Customer Awards.

Award winners were:

Young person’s commitment to Aspire – Lee Moss

Recognised for his involvement in the Children of Audley Residents’ Association. He has dedicated his time on projects to bring joy to people in his community. He has been a key player in helping to shape a customer training programme and recruited other customers to take part.

Lee said: “I wanted to get involved to help kids to have what I didn't”

Recognition of contribution in the face of adversity – Mary Moss

Mary is a full time carer and acts as the treasurer for her local residents’ association.

Mary said: “I've had a brilliant day and have learnt so much. It's been a really positive experience”

Outstanding achievement Individual – Daniel McGing

Daniel didn’t have the best start in life and describes himself as someone who was always getting into trouble at school. He started on the Entry to Employment programme with PM Training and after a spell with the Homeworks Gardening Teams, he joined the Environmental Improvements Team working at Beasley Avenue in Chesterton and was taken on as a landscaping apprentice in January 2009. His attendance, attitude and timekeeping are described by his supervisor as first class.

Daniel said: “I am really happy to have achieved the award. It’s the first award I've ever received”

Outstanding achievement Community – Chesterton One Stop Shop

A group run purely by dedicated volunteers from the local community. The service is open and accessible throughout the year and the group help people with queries, give advice, help to complete forms and signpost to other agencies. They also provide the public with internet access, photocopying/laminating service and bus passes for OAPs and gets involved in local community days, litter picking and much more

Lillian said: “This award is for all the volunteers who work so hard - we are a team and couldn't do what we do without the agencies involved. Thank you to Aspire for the support given to the group”

Contribution to diversity – Mike Reynolds

Mike was recognised for his voluntary commitment to looking at the needs of the over 50s. He is chair of the Friends of Mill Rise customer group, he set up an over 50s forum and produces a ¼ly newsletter, working alongside numerous agencies across Staffordshire including the Staffordshire County Council Carers Forum.

Mike said: “I have two words to say - 'Just Society' - and that's what I work for. I have had inspiration from other people and recognise those who work so hard in their communities for their neighbours. I am really proud to live in Newcastle”

Respect – Tony Eagles

Tony was awarded the Respect award for his contribution to challenging unacceptable behaviour in his community to improve the quality of lives of his neighbours. Described as the ‘linch pin’ of his local community, Tony actively encourages agencies to get involved in regular walkabouts

Bill Harrison memorial award for best newcomer – Maureen Bennison

Maureen received the award for her involvement with Aspire Housing since September 2008 and the planning and promotion of the customer conference

Maureen said: “It's been great - a really good day - thank you”

Special Recognition Award – Ellie Preece

9 year old Ellie was presented with an award by Mark Hammersley from Newcastle Fire Service. Ellie called fire crews to her home during the early hours of 13 January saving the lives of her family members. She was presented with a certificate, tickets to Alton Towers and Waterworld and offered a slot to talk about her experience on Focal Radio.

Mark Hammersley, Newcastle Fire Service: “I am very honoured to present this award to a special young lady”


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