Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Housing Matters – May 2024

Thursday, 2 May 2024

This is the latest edition of Housing Matters.

Help shape your home and community, and receive incentives to do so

Make recommendations that shape our services

Being included in decision making about the management of your home is your right. So, we are reaching out to you, our tenants, to invite you to join us in making recommendations that shape the services we provide.

As the people who live in our properties, you have valuable first-hand knowledge. We need to understand what is important to you and your community. By working together, we can make positive changes that will build greater trust and a stronger service, based on your experiences.

We know you are busy, so we won’t take up too much of your time. It only takes a few minutes to contact us and register your interest by providing your name and contact details. Once registered, we will contact you to ask if you will take part in an online survey, or maybe a one-off meeting at a time that suits. Can’t leave the house? We can invite you to an online meeting.

And as a thank you for joining our database and attending a tenant involvement survey, or meeting, we have many incentives including gift cards, networking opportunities, community events and more.

There are many ways you can take part, so if you would like to join out tenant involvement database or find out more about what we do, email: involvementandengagement@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

Helpful videos for new tenants

Two new videos to support new tenants

Image of two people from the video; one is holding a key

Moving into a new rented home can feel overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. That’s why we are introducing two new videos to help – what happens when you’re offered a property and what to expect in the first 12 months (Introductory Tenancy).

These videos were made with input from people who have been through the process. From listening to feedback from tenant focus groups and recent new tenants, we have tried to make sure they cover everything someone new to renting from us need to know

They're easy to watch and understand, so can help if you need a refresh about your introductory tenancy or you are helping someone make their first step into renting from us.

Watch the 'what happens when you are offered a property' video.

Watch the 'what to expect from an introductory tenancy' video.

We are always looking for tenants to be included in helping us build a service around you. If you would like to be involved in similar activities, contact: involvementandengagement@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

100 more empty homes back in use!

The Empty Homes team is working hard to bring properties back into use

Before and after photos of a renovated house.

During 2023 and 2024, the team worked with homeowners, or took enforcement action where there was no other option, to make 100 properties suitable for people to live in again. These homes are important to help reduce homelessness, as well as preventing potential issues like anti-social behaviour, rodents and squatting.

The team already have another eight properties they are working to bring back into use, and are helping many other homeowners repair and upgrade their homes to make them suitable to live in.

If you are interested to find out more on what is involved in bringing empty homes back into use, visit: empty.homes@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

Supporting a tenant’s journey to independence

The Tenancy Sustainment team support tenants who need a little extra help to manage their tenancies

The team receive referrals from professionals, who raise the request that help is needed. Support can range from money management to more complex situations where other professional services are involved.

One case last year is a good example of how support can help change lives. The team recieved a report about a tenant who was facing significant challenges due to severe depression and visual impairment. He was in poor health, had little food, his home had no running water or electricity, and the toilet was blocked and full.

Whilst the tenant’s needs were seen to by health professionals, the Tenancy Sustainment team took action to improve his living conditions by restoring utilities and ensuring the living environment was clean and safe. The tenant’s financial issues were a major concern, as his benefits had been suspended.

To rectify this, the team:

  • reinstated the tenant's benefits
  • helped the tenant access their pension
  • helped manage outstanding bills
  • worked with the tenant's social worker to organise a care package supporting independent living

Our tenant was also given mobility training, empowering him to navigate his surroundings with confidence. Over time, he became less reliant on external assistance and took steps towards managing his needs independently. Within nine months, the tenant had made significant progress towards independence.

If you are a Housing Services tenant and know of someone you feel would benefit from support from the Tenancy Sustainment team, contact your housing officer or call 0300 300 8042.

We've opened a new play park in Meadow Way, Leighton Buzzard

It's part of our ongoing estate improvement programme

Children playing in the new play park.

At the beginning of April, we proudly opened a new state-of-the-art play park and a brand-new basketball hoop, ensuring families in the neighbourhood have plenty of fun options for outdoor activities.

The new equipment in the play park includes a roundabout, a multi-play unit with a slide and a climbing wall and is suitable for all abilities and individual confidence levels.

An existing play park, hidden between houses towards the back of the estate, has been removed, with the new park on the Green in the middle of the estate. New pathways have been created so it’s easy for families to get to the park, which is now more visible.

The new park is part of a series of estate improvements we have made to the Meadow Way estate. These include extensive tree works, maintaining the health of the trees in the area, installing planters outside the community centre, and working with Community Payback to clear pathways and alleyways.

Our Tenancy Involvement and Engagement team have also held a number of drop-in sessions on the estate to help tenants with housing matters and signpost to support.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 is this month, taking place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May

This year’s theme is "Movement: moving more for our mental health"

Being active is important for our mental health. But it can be difficult for many of us to fit this into our daily routines, whether it be due to busy family life, long working hours or physical health issues.

In addition to the obvious physical health benefits of increasing your movement, the benefits to your mental health can be just as great! They can include:

  • boosting self-esteem and confidence
  • increasing motivation and focus
  • reducing tension, anxiety, stress, and mental fatigue
  • helping to calm the mind, when feeling angry, frustrated, or sad
  • reducing loneliness by offering new ways to get together with family and friends and meet new people.
  • improved sleep due to the release of feel-good hormones

Not sure how to get started? Visit the NHS Every Mind Matters website, for information and tips about free and affordable ways to get moving, for all ages and levels of physical ability.

Need mental health support?

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis for the first time you should contact your GP or call 111 and select option 2. If you are in Milton Keynes, you can call the CNWL urgent advice line on 0800 0234 650.

The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen. Call them any time on 116 123 if you need somebody to talk to.

Mind BLMK’s Crisis Cafés are a free service available 365 days of the year, from 5pm until 11pm. To speak to a member of the team, please call 01525 722 225 or visit their website.

In an emergency, if somebody's life is in danger, call 999.

Manage your money with confidence

Free courses for adults starting in Houghton Regis from May 2024

A £5 note with 4 £1 coins on top

Understanding finances can be tricky, but feeling confident with money is important for our wellbeing. These funded courses will give you the skills to better take control of your finances.

The following courses are free for adults aged 19 years and older in Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough:

Budgeting and Saving, Thursday 9 May 2024, from 10am to midday

Register your interest for the Budgeting and Saving course

Borrowing and Debt, Thursday 16 May 2024, from 10am to midday

Register your the Borrowing and Debt course

Making the Most of your Money, Thursday 23 May 2024, from 10am to midday

Register your interest for the Making the most of your Money course

If you attend all four courses, you will receive a £30 supermarket voucher to support your learning journey. Vouchers are available subject to meeting funding criteria.