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Mill Gardens Extra Care scheme raises funds for Eden medical centre

27th November 2015

Residents of Eden Housing Association’s Extra Care Housing Scheme in Kirkby Stephen held a coffee morning to raise money for the local medical practice. Baking cakes and pouring coffee raised £120.

The Mill Gardens Extra Care Scheme was officially opened this summer, with a full house of residents present for the launch. Keen to ensure they maintained their strong connection with the Kirkby Stephen area, residents organised a coffee morning, inviting the local community to attend.

Eden Housing Association’s Support and Activities Co-ordinator Debi Wilkinson and Sylvia Ganner, the Extra Care Co-ordinator were on hand to help with the event, but it was the residents themselves that gathered raffle prizes, baked cakes and made refreshments to welcome visitors to the event.   The gathering raised £120 which was presented to Janet Allonby, Lead Receptionist at the Upper Eden Medical Practice.

Debi Wilkinson Support and Activities Co-ordinator said “The residents got together to decide which cause they wanted to support, they were quite clear that they wanted the money to be used in our local area and the Upper Eden Medical Centre was a clear winner.

Our residents like to be active and they get together on a very regular basis. This event was a great opportunity for local people to come and have a look at our new scheme and enjoy the residents’ hospitality and we were delighted with the turnout.”

Mill Gardens cheque presentation - coffee morning raises 120

Picture: Staff and residents at Mill Gardens Extra Care scheme present cheque for £120 to Janet Allonby from the Upper Eden Medical Practice.

Eden Community Alarms and Eden Housing Association merger goes ahead

23rd November 2015


Two local organisations looking after the interests of older and vulnerable people in Eden are set to merge. Following the process of due diligence and agreement by both boards of management, Eden Community Alarms (ECA) will merge with Eden Housing Association (EHA) in January 2016.

The two organisations have worked together for many years, supporting the needs of older and vulnerable residents in Eden and surrounding areas. Links between the two were further strengthened from 2012 when Eden Housing Association launched “Eden Independent Living (EIL)”   a one-stop-shop service for people looking for extra help to enhance their daily independence at home.

Popularity of the Eden Independent Living Service, combined with feedback by users, meant the range of services has grown. In addition to care alarms, accessing telecare and offering emergency response services, customers also benefit from practical and social support, personal care and help around the home with a gardening and handy person service.

Carolyn Greenhalgh, Eden Housing Association’s Assistant Director for Housing and Support said “Marrying the skills and expertise in each organisation will strengthen the long term future for support to older and vulnerable people in Eden and nearby rural areas which is crucial when you look at planning for the future.

“Eden is set to see the 65+ population rise 59% by 2030; even more significantly, those aged 85+ will increase by 90% during the same period. It is vital that we ensure a consistently high quality service to support these residents, joining forces makes us stronger than we were as separate organisations.”

Moving forward, the services provided by both organisations will be integrated under the banner of Eden Independent Living. The existing ECA premises will be kept, providing a shop front for the Service, and a base from which the service can continue to grow.

Kath Hetherington, Chief Officer of Eden Community Alarms, said “The legacy of what we Eden Community Alarms has achieved so far is a testament to our staff and to the dedication of our team of volunteers who will continue with us on our journey. At the same time, our customers can take advantage of the wide range of other services offered by Eden Independent Living and will benefit from more choice and help to maintain their independence at home. We are excited about exploring ways to develop the service further.”

A joint merger sub group with board members and key staff from both organisations was formed early in the process, working to ensure a safe, practical and seamless transition for existing customers and staff.


For further information about the merger please contact: Kath Hetherington at Eden Community Alarms 01768 890657 or Carolyn Greenhalgh at Eden Housing Association 01768 861400.

Kath hetherington and carolyn greenhalgh at eca

Kath Hetherington Chief Officer at Eden Community Alarms with Carolyn Greenhalgh, Eden Housing Association’s Assistant Director, Housing and Support.


Media contact: Tracey Errington on 07799 640 290 or email

Proud Eden tenant presents at national conference and visits Kew Gardens

18th November 2015

Ian Douthwaite, an Eden Housing Association (EHA) tenant, was invited to speak at a national housing and health conference in London. He was one of only four tenants across the country who spoke, contributing to the theme ‘Proud to be a tenant’. Ian made a real impact with his presentation and was also been asked to be involved in #nationalhousingday held today (Wednesday 18th November).

PlaceShapers is a network of more than 100 housing associations, who all share a community focus and a commitment to put residents at the heart of what they do, principles that make them more than just a social landlord. This year their national conference wanted to hear from tenants from across the country. Eden Housing Association approached Ian Dowthwaite, asking him if he would be prepared to share his tenant journey at the conference – he was delighted to accept.

Ian’s presentation captivated the audience who heard about his tenant history with Eden Housing Association. Ian, his wife and two children became EHA tenants in 1999, having been made redundant from the pub he ran with his wife Pauline. Unfortunately it meant they lost their home too. With impending homelessness, the family contacted EHA who found them a family home in Kirkby Thore.

Ian worked as a freelance chef until his wife was diagnosed with a life changing illness affecting mobility. Their two children had grown up and the family sized house was difficult to manage, so EHA assisted in relocating Ian and his wife to a bungalow in Greystoke with an all-important garden. Ian has become his wife’s carer, but in 2011 he did find time to attend gardening training classes organised by the EHA Community Development Team.

Based at Newton Rigg, Ian was naturally green fingered and the college encouraged him to study a BTEC in Horticulture. He did fantastically well and even enjoyed work placement at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage – the most famous of kitchen gardens.

Coming full circle, Ian now also helps EHA with gardening projects, encouraging others to get the green finger bug.   As a thank you for speaking at the conference, Eden Housing Association arranged for Ian to visit Kew Gardens – a visit high on his bucket list.

Having listened to the issues discussed at the conference, Ian said “The conference was very informative and a real eye opener how government policy may affect future plans, it’s useful for tenants to be aware of the constraints associations now work under. I really enjoyed telling my story and am very grateful for all the support and encouragement Eden Housing Association has given me over the years.”

Ian’s presentation made a real impact, leading to numerous mentions on social media which reaffirmed the PlaceShapers ethos that social housing ‘is about much more than bricks and mortar’. Ian has also been asked to speak on social media during #nationalhousingday Wednesday 18th November.

John Clasper Managing Director at Eden Housing Association said “Ian’s story is a great example of how security of tenure and the right kind of support can make a world of difference. Ian and his family have been tenants for 16 years, and we have enjoyed a great landlord and tenant relationship, working alongside them as their needs have changed. Ian has also embraced our community activities and training, which in turn has led him to cultivate his green fingers. We’re delighted that we helped him develop his love of gardening and learn new skills and pleased he was able to join us at the conference. As a thankyou we made arrangements for him to travel to London earlier so he could visit Kew Gardens. We knew it was on his ‘bucket list’ and we were pleased to make it happen.”

Ian has been invited to contribute to ‘Proud to be a tenant’ day which also co-insides with National Housing Day, both held Wednesday 18th November. For more information about Eden Housing Association visit or call 01768 861400.

New Board Members help shape future at Eden Housing Association

10th November 2015

Shaping the future of their organisation, board members and the leadership team at Eden Housing Association (EHA) concentrated their thoughts at their annual strategic away day. With the unexpected changes to social housing announced by the Government in the Summer budget, the EHA strategic planning day was brought forward and provided an ideal opportunity for the four most recent board members to make a valuable contribution to Eden Housing Association’s future direction.

Ian Tupling became a board member when Lowther Housing Association transferred its stock to Eden Housing Association. He was their long standing Vice Chair and has close involvement with rural housing issues. The other more recent additions to the board in 2015 include Fra Cooke who has over 20 years’ experience in organisational change and strategic management in commercial and not for profit organisations and Simon Hunt, a chartered accountant for over fifteen years, with extensive experience in change management and planning and currently working in the NHS. The fourth addition to the board is Hugh Harrison, Chair of the Associations tenant and resident assembly and with close to 50 years experience as a former Parish and District Councillor.

The Government’s budget announcement that housing associations will be forced to reduce rents over the next 4 years came as a major surprise to social housing providers across the UK, given a previous guarantee on rent increases for 10 years had been only just implemented this year. The announcement will lead to Housing Associations (HA’s) being required to reduce social housing rents by 1 per cent each year for the next four years from April 2016.

The changes meant that existing financial planning budgets were obsolete, with many housing associations faced with the need to find large savings across their organisations and threatening their planned investment into core services and community benefit activities as well as the provision of much needed new affordable rented homes.

Eden Housing Association had just completed their most recent three year corporate plan when the announcements were made. Since then, the board and leadership team have been working to minimise the effect of future rent budget cuts on services to tenants and staff. The strategic away day was an opportunity to review and refine the association’s goals and steer the organisation’s direction, building upon its existing strengths.

John Clasper, Managing Director at Eden Housing Association said “the proposed reduction in rental income means we need to make savings across our business. Our newest board members bring with them decades of experience in strategic planning and organisation change as well as a commercial perspective, so their contributions at this time are immensely valuable. Our mission has not changed; but we will have to think and respond differently to continue to be an efficient and highly effective landlord, enabling us to go beyond that expected landlord role and get involved in projects that help people and our rural communities. We will need to be even more effective and invest in new partnerships”.

“Spending the day together enabled a lot of different thoughts to be expressed and to reaffirm our commitment to the local neighbourhoods. The Board wish us to be bolder in our ambition. To continue developing homes, continue growing our Independent Living Service and pursuing partnerships – including volunteering opportunities, so we can play our part in addressing the health and wellbeing needs of our communities. It is now the job of our leadership team to translate that into successful work plans.”

Eden Housing Association is not alone in facing challenges. The government’s rent reduction policy has potentially serious consequences for many housing associations and all are expected to have to address cash flows and reconfiguration of business plans. It also raises questions about the ability and appetite of social landlords to build new homes.

Eden Housing Association will continue to seek development opportunities on smaller sites in keeping with the local and rural neighbourhoods it serves.

New board members at Eden HA Fra Cooke, Simon Hunt, Hugh Harrison and Ian Tupling

New board members at Eden HA Fra Cooke, Simon Hunt, Hugh Harrison and Ian Tupling


Growing the gardening service in Eden

12th October 2015

Gardening service has room to grow for Eden Independent Living

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, October is a busy month in the garden, cutting back perennials, gathering leaves, pruning, trimming and making ready for winter. For older residents in Eden, some of these tasks prove to be hard work, and is one of the reasons the gardening service from Eden Independent Living is proving such a success – to such an extent that more gardeners were needed.

More gardening in Eden

Eden Independent Living Gardening Service extended

The Eden Independent Living (EIL) Service was started three years ago by Eden Housing Association, to provide a range of services to help older residents stay independent in their own home. Since launch the offer has been refined based on feedback from customers and now includes a handy person service, decorating and more recently, a gardening service.

Since an EIL awareness campaign launched in the spring, the service has seen 20% growth in customers, with many taking advantage of the handy person and help with gardening. New customers and a growing demand for regular gardening work meant the gardening team needed to expand – there are now two freelance gardeners covering Eden.

Miranda Lowther, Senior Independent Living Advisor works closely with all the service providers and is delighted that the gardening team is now up to full speed. She said “Adam Tracey runs Adam in Eden Gardening Service and is based in Kirkby Stephen. He’s worked with Eden Housing Association for three years, providing gardening tips and courses for residents and the feedback on his work has always been very good. From his Kirkby Stephen base he is well positioned to look after the south of Eden and has a growing number of customers asking for regular visits.”

The most recent addition to the gardening team is 26 year old Greg Corrie from Eden Externals in Penrith. He has only recently set up his own business, but impressed the Eden Independent Living service team with his attitude and helpful manner. Joining the team in late summer he looks after gardens in Penrith and surrounding areas.

Commenting on the late summer bloom of the gardening service, Miranda Lowther said “in our early stages the gardening service was slow to grow; the gardeners we use have always been very good with customers, but we needed more capacity. Adam is now doing more for us and it’s great to be helping someone starting their own business – Greg will also be a real asset. We’ve now got a full team and are able to meet current demand with plenty of room to grow in the spring.”

Anyone interested in finding out more can contact the Eden Independent Living Team on 01768 861 468 or visit the website

Three charities benefit from Fun Day

20th September 2015

The Penrith summer fun day has raised over £1,600 which will be shared by three local organisations. The fun day, held in the summer holidays at Penrith RUFC was a joint affair; with local groups working together to create a value for money family event that could also raise funds for nominated charities.

Presenting the cheque to charities at Eden Housing Association office

Fun Day charity cheque presentation with ECHO, Eden Housing Association and charities Great North Air Ambulance and Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland

The event raised £1,637.23 and was jointly organised by Eden Housing Association (EHA), working with ECHO (their Residents Assembly), INSPIRA and Penrith RUFC. Their nominated charities were Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland, the Great North Air Ambulance and Penrith RUFC Youth Rugby, each receiving a cheque for £545.74.

Read the full story by clicking Fun Day raises funds for three local charities

Eden Housing Association resident celebrates 100th birthday

16th September 2015

There were two special events taking part in Eden last week, the most high profile was the Tour of Britain which travelled across Eden on Thursday 10th September. The second celebration was a quieter, but none the less significant affair for one resident of Brough and his family. Mr Robert Dent marked his 100th birthday at home with his family and friends.
Mr Dent is one of Eden Housing Association’s (EHA) oldest tenants and still lives independently in a bungalow that has been his home for over 25 years. Aware of the impending century milestone, the Association asked if they could pay a visit to mark the occasion.

John Clasper Managing Director at EHA wished Robert Dent a happy birthday, presenting him with a card featuring a vintage truck and books on vintage wagons – a subject that has been a passion for Mr Dent for decades. Commenting on his visit John Clasper said “It is an honour to be able to wish one of our tenants a happy 100th birthday in person, even rarer to be present when a card from the Queen arrives – special delivery, followed by a telegram from Ian Duncan Smith at the Department of Work and Pensions!
It’s also very gratifying to see that as a centenarian, Mr Dent is still being able to live independently in his own home. He is fiercely independent but knows he has the support of his family and our Eden Independent Living Service, when needed. We wish him continued health and good luck into his second century.”

Mr Dent celebrates his 100th birthday with Eden Housing Assocaition MD John Clasper

John Clasper MD at Eden Housing Association visited Mr Dent on his 100th birthday – congratulations.

Read the full story by following this link: Celebrating a centenary for Eden resident

Eden Housing Association officially opens new Extra Care scheme in Kirkby Stephen

9th September 2015

Mill Gardens Extra Care Scheme opening

Launch of new scheme at Mill Gardens, Kirkby Stephen. Front: Henry Barker EHA Chairman, Parish Councillor Joan Johnstone and Geoff Cook, Vice Chairman Cumbria County Council

Launch of new scheme at Mill Gardens, Kirkby Stephen. Front: Henry Barker EHA Chairman, Parish Councillor Joan Johnstone and Geoff Cook, Vice Chairman Cumbria County Council

Eden Housing Association’s new extra care scheme in Kirkby Stephen was officially opened yesterday (Tuesday 8th September) by Parish Councillor Joan Johnstone. Mill Gardens was originally a sheltered housing scheme built in 1977, but its bedsit accommodation became dated and was becoming no longer fit for modern day living. After considering whether to refurbish and remodel the existing building it was decided that it would prove far better value to provide a brand new facility. Therefore in 2013 the old building was demolished to make way for this new, modern, and future proofed extra care scheme for the benefit of not only residents but the local community. At a cost of £3.1 million, the new ‘Mill Gardens’ scheme features nineteen self-contained apartments as well as communal facilities and gardens that meet the support, care and housing needs of local residents.

Work on the old site began in September 2013, once the remaining residents of the sheltered scheme had been found alternative accommodation. The £3.1 million cost to create the Mill Gardens scheme allowed for three x one bedroomed and sixteen x two bedroomed apartments over three floors; they have been designed to be ‘lifetime homes’ that can be adapted as personal needs change. The build cost was met with grant funding of over £500,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency and £250,000 extra care funding from Cumbria County Council to help build and fit out additional floor space and provide extra care facilities like assisted bathing, specialist laundry equipment, secure door entry and flexible space and rooms for health and well-being use.

Residents living in the extra care scheme environment that Mill Gardens provides will benefit from the presence of an on site care team, 24/7 thanks to the investment commitments made by Cumbria County Council.

On the very first day of demolition in September 2013 the site was attended by the Eden Housing Association (EHA) team and Councillor Beth Furneaux, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Adult and Local Services and this marked the start of the 18 month project, developed by local contractors.

The footprint of the new scheme is slightly larger than its predecessor and it feels considerably larger because of the clever use of space. Inside the corridor colours and signage have been created to make getting around easier for any residents living with dementia.

Work on the scheme was completed in time for residents to move into their new homes in April and the EHA team was pleased to see 75% of the original Mill Garden residents choosing to return to the new Mill Gardens – they were given first choice of the new apartments. Popular from the outset, the scheme is fully occupied and residents are now enjoying their new community, getting together on a regular basis for a coffee and a chat, fish and chip lunches, and afternoon activities. All the residents attended the the opening of the scheme.

Welcoming everyone to the launch Henry Barker, Chairman of Eden Housing Association said “Standards and expectations in older persons living have changed over the years and Eden Housing Association has adapted to those needs, firstly in Carlisle with the Heysham Gardens Extra Care scheme, and now in Kirkby Stephen with Mill Gardens. It is a great example of collaborative effort and I would like to extend a big thank you to the whole team for getting the scheme to this stage, and also to those taking it forward and running it on a daily basis.

The scheme is not about a building, it is about the residents and the choices it offers them. Our oldest resident is 95, with others also in their 90’s; the fact we have so many residents able to live independently in their own homes is a testament to the success of extra care models and is certainly the way forward if funds allow.

The recent budget announcement changes will have an impact on what small, local housing associations like ours are able to achieve in the future, in terms of new development and investment in our communities. The threat to our income after the u-turn after only 1 year, on a rent guarantee for 10 years, will severely affect our future ability to spend on these very important things in support of our rural economy.”

Residents agree that life is made easier with the extra facilities. Bertha Stary was one of the original Mill Gardens residents; she chose an apartment that was in a similar position to her previous one, overlooking the trees and fells. She loves having the Julian balcony doors open so she can hear the river and pursue her passion for bird watching. Asked what she likes best about her new apartment she said really appreciates the walk in shower – it makes life easier. The other residents agree.

Addressing guests at the opening Geoff Cook, Vice-Chairman of Cumbria County Council said “Extra care housing provides people with the security and independence that they need. It means that people can continue to have their very own front door providing them with their own space alongside quality support services and the council is delighted to be part of, and fund, this very exciting scheme”.

The honour of officially opening the scheme was given to Joan Johnstone, who has played an important role in the Kirkby Stephen Community for many years. As a past Chair of Eden Housing Association and current Parish Councillor Joan has followed the progress of the scheme with keen interest. In her opening comments she said “Kirkby Stephen is a real community, and it has a much older population than the UK average. This makes the new Mill Gardens scheme even more important to the people who live here. I am honoured to be invited to perform the official opening of the new Mill gardens. My links with EHA go back to its very inception in 1997 when I joined its first member’s board, and later as Chair. Throughout the years I was delighted to be part of an organisation working tirelessly to provide and maintain affordable housing for local people. I have watched the scheme develop and now finished, I do hope that all residents will be part of the local community and feel happy and contented in their new homes. I applaud and thank everyone at Eden Housing Association, along with the consultants, contractors and funders, for this project which has provided Kirkby Stephen with this excellent facility.” Once opened, guests were shown round apartments before enjoying a celebratory afternoon tea with residents.

For more information about the Mill Gardens Extra Care Scheme, contact Eden Housing Association on 01768 861 400.

For more information about this release or for more images, contact Tracey Errington on 07799 640 290 or email

Joyce Plummer and Elsie Sowerby

Residents Joyce Plummer and Elsie Sowerby celebrate enjoying the celebrations

£1/2 million welfare and debt relief for Eden Housing Association Residents

17th August 2015

A partnership linking Eden Housing Association and The Cumbria Law Centre has seen Eden tenants benefit from an estimated £1/2 million in welfare and debt relief.

The Cumbria Law Centre has linked with Eden Housing Association (EHA) since April 2013, offering their tenants specialist help in welfare benefits and debt matters. Case workers and Solicitors work two days each week, using EHA offices in Penrith as a base to meet tenants who have pre-booked appointments. As well as help with debt relief, the team will negotiate with creditors and provide budgeting advice.

The Cumbria Law Centre is an independent charity offering specialist legal advice and casework in housing, debt, welfare benefits and employment matters. Last year they worked on 213 cases for EHA’s tenants, and whilst a few were simple advisory issues, most involved substantial legal casework.

500K+ welfare and debit relief for Eden residents

Carolyn Greenhalgh and Pete Moran support welfare benefits

EHA’s Carolyn Greenhalgh and Pete Moran from Cumbria Law Centre


Contact details: For more information about this press release or for pictures contact Tracey Errington on: 07799 640 290 or email

Kids go for £1 on the 106 Bus Service on selected dates in August

4th August 2015

Celebrations as the Penrith 106 bus arrives at Shap

Following the withdrawal of bus service subsidies by Cumbria County Council in November 2014 a group of community activist got together to re-instate the 106 bus service which ran between Kendal and Penrith.

In February 2015 the service was back on the road thanks to funding from Parish Councils and Eden Housing Association. The group pledged to bring the service back, initially for three days per week for one year. Since the launch of the new service, usage has been better than expected and the group are now investigating ways to keep it running on a long term basis.

To celebrate the new service and encourage more users the 106 Partnership has launched a promotion where children (under 16) can use the service for just £1 for one week in August. Services benefitting from the promotion will run on Tuesday 11th, Thursday 13th and Friday 14th August.

NR 106 Partnership promotion Aug 15


Contact details  For more information about this press release or for pictures contact Tracey Errington on:  07799 640 290 or email

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