Do you need professional advice?

Do you need quality, professional advice? Although the drop-in advice sessions at STAG have now stopped, Blackfriars Advice Centre is still providing a service for Travellers in the area and STAG are More »

Driving Theory Test

Passing your driving theory can be tough. If you are a Southwark resident, there is free driving theory test practice available. All you need is to have a library number. Follow the More »

Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month

Should all schools celebrate GRTHM in June? Yes, all schools should. No, but schools which have Traveller, Gypsy and Roma students should. No, no schools should. If you would like to find More »

Applying for Schools in Southwark

For the most accurate up-to-date information on applying to school in Southwark it is best to use Southwark Council’s website or call 0207 525 5337. All school applications have to be done More »

CSCS Cards

What is a CSCS Card? The CSCS Card is used by the construction industry to make sure that all workers have enough Health and Safety knowledge to work on a construction site. More »

Make Money From Your Creative Skills!

Do you make greetings cards, jewellery, prints, badges, headband, soft furnishings or anything else? Would you like to sell it in a shop? Spark is a ‘pop-up’ shop about to open in More »

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tenancy Agreements- The Results of the Consultation

What changes were made after the consultancy on tenancy agreements?

‘Consultancy’ for some people has become a dreaded word. Every few months, somebody from the council who is usually very nice but has no power whatsoever, comes to get ‘the Traveller view’ on something the Council has already decided to do. 18 months after the conversation, a report sits unread on the shelf of the real decision makers, who have already put in place plans which completely go against what the consultancy tells them people want. This is what some people’s experience of consultancy has been; no wonder there were many people who were reluctant to take part in consultancy about tenancy agreements.

It might not be the most interesting of topics, but what is in your tenancy agreement with the Council is very important. It gives you rights against eviction, protects the services which you are entitled to (repairs, site cleaning, rubbish collection etc.) and sets out the rules of living on sites. The original agreements included some terms which we weren’t happy about. For this reason we knew it was important to for a consultation to take place, though we didn’t know if we could make any changes. Now we can tell you the results of the consultation, by showing what changes have been made to the agreements:

 1. Visitors

What the old agreement said:

The old agreement said that tenants needed written permission from the Council to allow people to stay at their pitch.

What STAG said in consultation:

 We said that people living in other Council housing did not have to obtain written permission before allowing people to stay in their home, so people on Traveller sites shouldn’t have to either. 

We also said that relatives were most likely to come to stay during a bereavement, a time when people will not be thinking of contacting the Council.

What you said:

As long as these changes don’t affect our lifestyle I don’t have a problem. It’s when rules come in to change the way we live our lives that there is a problem’.

Result:

Success.
The council changed the agreement so that the word ‘stay‘ is removed. You still need to tell the Council if somebody else is going to live at the pitch. 

2. Animals

What the old agreement said:

The old agreement said: ‘Animals must not be allowed to roam around other pitches or communal areas of the site or within the locality.’

What STAG said in consultation:

We said that on most of the sites all of the outside space was communal. Pitches are not always fenced off, so the only space for dogs to exercise is the communal outdoor space. We argued that this term in the agreement would mean animals would have to be kept indoors at all times- it would be fairer if animals could roam at all times except when Council workers and contractors came on site.  We said that owning animals was an important part of Gypsy and Traveller cultures- and we were pleased that the agreements allowed animals such as horses to live on sites.

What you said:

You said: ‘ Horses have been on this site for years. They are part of our culture’.

Result:

Success. 
The council changed the agreement so that it now says, ‘Animals must not be allowed to roam around communal areas of the site whilst Council staff or contractors are working on the sites‘. This means that animals can roam on communal areas at all other times. 
The agreement also allows tenants to keep animals such as horses on the site.

3. Extra mobile homes and vehicles on the sites.

What the old agreement said:

The old agreement said that on a single pitch you must not have more than 1 mobile home without written permission from the council. It also said that only 1 vehicle was allowed.

What you said:

You said: ‘Southwark let us down by not providing a large enough site. The best way to resolve this [overcrowding on site due to extra mobile homes] would be to build a larger site. As far as I’m concerned, if we were in a council house, my children would be allowed to stay under my roof. Them living in caravans is the equivalent, they need their own caravans as we don’t have room for them.’

‘We have been asking for a bigger site for 25 years.’

What STAG said:

STAG said that it would be unfair to expect residents on overcrowded sites, who feel they were duped by the Council when their small site was made permanent, to sign an agreement which stated that they could not allow their family to live with them in caravans. We said that the Council should give permission to those currently living on the site to stay there. We also said that more Traveller site accommodation was needed.

Result:

Partial success. 
The council changed the agreement so that it now says, ‘applications [for extra mobile homes on a pitch] will not be unreasonably refused’. Residents will be able to allow more mobile homes on their pitches as long as it does not breach health and safety rules and the names of other residents are given. The Council has stated, ‘At Spring Tide, permissions can be backdated and any occupants will need to be added to the schedule of authorised household as contained in the agreement’.
Work in progress:

Regarding building a new site, the Council has said this: ‘We are working with colleagues in planning and we have established an officers working group. This will be an area of focus.’

4. Absence from Pitch

What the old agreement said:

The old agreement said that tenants must not be away for more than a total of 10 weeks in any twelve month period. 

What STAG said:

We said that this was not long enough, as it could infringe on some Travellers way of life.

Result:

Success. The agreement now allows 12 weeks absence per year. 

5. Definition of Gypsy and Traveller Status

What the old agreement said:

The old agreement used the 1983 Mobile Homes Act definition of Gypsy and Traveller status, ‘a person of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin, but not a member of an organised group of travelling showpeople, or a person engaged in travelling circuses, travelling together as such’.

What STAG said:

We said that this definition is outdated. Many Irish Travellers and English Gypsies no longer live a nomadic life, and so wouldn’t be eligible on these grounds. Many Travellers no longer travel in order to keep their children in schools, or because the law won’t allow them to. We pointed out that the agreement limited the amount of travelling that tenants were allowed to do, but also said that all tenants must be of nomadic habit of life.

Result:

Success. The definition has now been changed. It now reads ‘ a person of nomadic habit of life, (including such persons who on grounds of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently), whatever their race or origin…’

6. Water Recharging

With the new agreements, a new water charge will come.

What you (and STAG) said:

‘It would depend on how much they are talking about charging for water rates. Many people are struggling. There are things that the council hasn’t done for us.’

‘With having to pay council tax now and reducing my benefits I’ll have nothing to live on. I think this water charge is coming at the wrong time, when people are receiving less and having to pay more for everything.’

No water meters!’

Result:

Water charges are still in the agreement. The agreements are supposed to bring fairness to all Council tenants, so it is fair that everybody in Southwark-owned accommodation pays for water. On the positive, there will not be any water meters.

7. The Allocations Policy

What you said:

During the consultation, many people were interested in giving their views on the allocations policy. Many people said they were worried that the Council could cause a lot of distress by allowing the wrong people onto Southwark sites. Traveller sites are intimate places where people live in very close proximity.

‘Before you move certain families on site you will need to consider safety issues’

How will the agreements affect allocations?’

‘I think it should be left up to the families of the bereaved to decide what happens when a resident dies- they should decide who gets the plot’

What STAG said:

We asked if the right to succession when a resident dies could be given to people when a tenant moves on.

 

Result:

Partial success. Work in progress.
The law cannot be changed so that people moving on can assign their pitch to somebody else. The Council will decide who moves onto a pitch when a vacancy comes up.
However, the Council has said it will review the allocations policy (get ready for another consultation) as it is clear that Traveller site residents have concerns about it. The Council has said throughout that it will consult with current residents before putting a new family onto the site.

All in all we feel that the consultation was worthwhile and resulted in many good outcomes, if not everything we wanted. Though it might be boring at the time, there is a good reason for taking part in consultations and getting your views heard. Thank you to everybody who took part in the consultation, you have got Travellers in Southwark a better deal by doing so.

How to Start an Email Address?

These days an email address is becoming more and more important:

  • 92% of people in the UK have an email address

  • If you are one of the few that don’t, you could be missing out on great deals from online shopping.

  • Booking flights and hotels is so easy online.

  • If you’re looking for a job, you’ll need a email account these days. Very soon, all benefit applications will be online instead of on paper.

  • These days, having an email address and being able to use the Internet is as important as reading and writing.

 

How do I set up an email address?

Setting up an email address is easy. Follow these steps and it won’t take more than 5 minutes.
  1. Go to www.gmail.com .

    We are choosing gmail because it is the world’s most popular and easy to use.
  2. Click on the “Create an Account” on the top right of the screen.

 

 

3.  Gmail will ask you some information.

Name, birthday, telephone number You don’t have to give true details here.  Choose a memorable username (your email address) and password (which you enter every time you want to check your email account).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Congratulations.

You have now set up your email account. Click “Next Steps” (or add a profile picture if you want) and then “Continue to Gmail”.
Your gmail screen will look like this. If you need any help, come in to STAG and we will be happy to help you get started online.

Money Saving Tips from STAG

  • You could be losing £100s of every month if you’re not shopping online.

  • More and more people are using Internet shopping to get great deals and save themselves a small fortune.

  • Save on money, time and petrol by getting your shopping delivered to your door. Why struggle with heavy shopping bags?

Here are a few of STAG’s favourite sites for saving money.

 

Weekly Food Shop

Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s all have online delivery services. Set up an account (we recommend starting a new e-mail address to deal with all your online shopping) and your shopping can be done at a click of a mouse. You will be able to keep track of how much you spend easily and you won’t to carry heavy bags home. After the first shop, the website will remember your what you have bought so your 2nd online shop will take no time at all.
* For extra saving, sign up to Quidco – which gives you cash back on everything you buy.

 

 

Chemists- Health and Beauty


Chemist Direct has lots of great deals on health and beauty products. You can also get prescription drugs online (after seeing your G.P.) and over-the counter treatments. Great deal on sun-tan lotions, aids to quitting smoking and health products are available. Avoid the queues and save some money. Many of the deals are 50% off and over.

 

 

Check Petrol Prices

Do you spend a fortune on petrol or diesel? People who shop around save on average £2 every time they fill up. Check the local petrol prices by using www.petrolprices.com . Sign up to register and you will be told the cheapest priced pumps in your local area. We recommend you start up a new email account for this.

 

 

 

 

Deals at restaurants and take aways

www.moneysavingexpert.com . All sorts of deals are available at any time. Right now there are deals such as: Kids eat free (at Pizzahut), 50% off delivery (Domino’s), 2-for-1s, 20% total bill. These deals change all the time so it is always worth looking online before going out for a family meal. We recommend starting a new email account before signing up (as the voucher companies can send a lot of junk).
Deals on all sorts, from spa breaks and holidays to furniture and jewellery can be found on voucher websites such as Groupon and Lastminute.

 

Flights

Check the cheapest flights by using websites like www.skyscanner.net . This checks all the airlines for you to tell you the cheapest flight.

 

 

Electricals, books, dvds etc.

Amazon is a good place to pick up a bargain still. You could save £100s on goods such as TVs, laptops and audio equipment.  *Before you buy always check if there is a voucher you can use, it might lower the price.

 

It’s not just money saving that’s easier online.

These days looking for a job is almost impossible without using the Internet. Try using websites like Monster to help write a CV and search for jobs.
Need to report a repair or missed bin collection? Register with Southwark Council and do it easily online. More and more things are being done online these days, so it pays to get used to the new system. Don’t get left behind, computer skills are the new reading and writing!

 

If you haven’t got an email address– sign up and get started now!

Changes to Wednesday Advice Session

Wednesday 23rd May will be Louise Constantino’s final advice session at STAG before she goes on maternity leave. STAG would like to thank Louise for her work here and wishes her the best of luck with the rest of her pregnancy.

There will still be an advice session every Wednesday morning- arrive from 10-11am to be sure to be seen.

Please be sure to let us know how the advice service can be improved- give us your feedback.