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


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

EHA Highlights the Potential of Apprenticeships to Schools

13th July 2015



As part of their training and development programme, Eden Housing Association’s (EHA) Community Development Team have been working with partners to highlight the potential of apprenticeships for youngsters considering their next move. Working with Partnering in Property Management (PPM) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the apprenticeship roadshow visited Kirkby Stephen Grammar School, held two drop in sessions at Blain House, Penrith and linked with INSPIRA’s NEET programme to discuss various apprenticeships available across a number of industries. The results were immediate, with keen interest in at least two apprenticeship opportunities.  Click on the link below for full press release.

Eden Housing Association highlights the potential of apprenticeships to schools

For more information about apprenticeship roadshow or any community events, contact the Community Development Team on 01768 861400 or email

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

Greystoke celebrates launch of new homes during Rural Housing Week

8th July 2015

Greystoke bungalow opening

Greystoke celebrates launch of new homes during Rural Housing Week 

Timed to co-inside with Rural Housing Week, Eden Housing Association and Greystoke residents celebrated the launch of three new village homes on Wednesday 8th July. The bungalows have been designed and built to meet the needs of older people. They include air source heating systems to help keep the cost of living in a rural location as affordable as possible.

Eden Housing Association is committed to providing affordable homes in rural areas and already has nineteen bungalows at Castle Gardens in Greystoke. The additional three properties named ‘Petteril Mews’, sit next door to Castle Gardens and were built on land previously siting six very small garages. Owned by the Association, the land was earmarked for redevelopment at a cost of over £410,000. £114,505 grant funding was received from the Homes & Communities Agency.

Living in rural locations can often be thought of as idyllic but, it can often come at a disproportionate cost. The high cost of utilities in off-gas supply areas, running a car where no regular public transport exists can lead to large weekly outgoings, not easy when disposable incomes are low.

These new two bedroomed bungalows in Greystoke are built to the Code for Sustainable Homes – Level 3, a standard for high efficiency. The individual air source heating systems provide thermostatically controllable underfloor heating throughout as well as hot water. The design also incorporates ‘Lifetime Homes’ standards, which means the bungalows are thoughtfully designed to be as accessible and convenient to use by the resident throughout their occupancy if and as their needs change over time.

At the launch of the new homes John Clasper, Managing Director of Eden Housing Association said “The nature of our location means rural housing is at our core, so it is very fitting that we are able to launch these three Greystoke homes during Rural Housing Week.

We develop a variety of new properties for young people, families and older members of the community. When we build new bungalows aimed at older residents, it very often leads to the release of larger properties to the family market and at the same time, provides homes that are easier to manage for older residents. Having spoken to Mr Huddleston, one of our new residents, it’s clear that this ‘chain reaction’ works effectively.”

“Rural development is often expensive, the cost per unit of these fine bungalows is no exception. It is difficult to achieve the economies of scale made elsewhere but this of course is often the tapestry of rural life. It is often three or four new quality built, affordable homes that can make the difference in a rural community. Building on our own land is one of the ways we have tried to manage costs here. We are immensely proud of the result.

“This is our third completed scheme in the last few months, following development of bungalows at Low Hesket and our extra care scheme providing nineteen apartments in Kirkby Stephen.”

Also speaking at the opening was Eden District Council’s Deputy Leader and Housing and Health Portfolio Holder, Councillor Lesley Grisedale who is also a Greystoke resident. She said: “I am delighted that Eden Housing Association has been able to complete the development of these three new two-bed bungalows at Petteril Mews in Greystoke. The bungalows offer modern, energy efficient homes for those over the age of 55. Providing affordable homes is an ongoing priority for the Council but this development being in a village location also means that they can help meet local demand for much needed affordable housing. We continue to work proactively with housing associations and local communities to ensure the housing being developed in the District meet the needs of our sparsely populated area. ”

After the official opening, guests were invited into two of the new bungalows belonging to residents Mrs Carruthers and Mr Huddleston. They were happy to show guests around their homes and answer questions, before everyone gathered in the village hall for afternoon tea.

One of the new residents opening their homes at the launch was Mr Brian Huddleston. For the last seven years he has suffered with life-threatening illness and ongoing poor health. Mr Huddleston had been living in a large three bedroomed property in Newbiggin, with a big garden. The maintenance of the house and limited ability to use upstairs meant he needed something more manageable and was relieved and overjoyed to be accepted for one of the Petteril Mews bungalows. Mr Huddleston said “It’s been a godsend. I’m also just a five minute walk from my sister who pops in every day, often with my great niece.

Having everything on one level has made a huge difference – especially having a walk in shower/wet room. The other big change is the heating – the cost of running my home is massively reduced, before I relied on electric and calor gas bottles, now there’s an air source heat pump and underfloor heating.”

Another resident showing visitors around her bungalow was Mrs Carruthers who also feels right at home. She said “I just love this house! There’s so much light and space and I have a really big largest kitchen diner which is great when my daughter and grandson call in so often. My late husband had a wheelchair, so from experience I know my new home can made life so much easier, especially as I get older. It has wide doors and plenty of space to get around, and it’s reassuring to know it can be adapted if necessary. I’ve lived in Greystoke for 18 years and plan to be here many more. I’m fiercely independent so having a home that is easy to manage long term is comforting – and I still drive, which is handy because lack of local buses would be an issue.”

The bungalows at Greystoke are subject to a planning condition known as a ‘Section 106 clause” which means preference is given to people already living within or a very short distance from Greystoke. This meant the third new resident was also able to move back to the village where her family live and work.

Eden Housing Association is seeking to work with a number of rural communities to create ‘local lettings policies’. These operate similarly to the planning condition and are aimed at giving a degree of reasonable priority to applicants with a strong local connection. Local lettings policies are already operating successfully in Glenridding and Alston and there are plans in the pipeline to work with other local communities.

For more information about Eden Housing Association visit or call 01768 861400.

cut ribbon

Centre – Residents Mr Huddleston and Mrs Carruthers cut the ribbon with Councillor Lesley Grisedale EDC Deputy Leader and Housing and Health Portfolio Holder and John Clasper, Managing Director of Eden Housing Association.

Media contact:

Tracey Errington on 07799 640 290 or email

Fun on the Field swings into action

1st June 2015

Fun on the Field Milton Street Play area opens

New play equipment officially swung into action on Wednesday 27th May – a day of celebration in Penrith when the Milton Street Play area was officially opened. A group of Penrith residents came together with Eden Housing Association (EHA) and Inspira to make a difference to the Milton Street Play area in the town. They set up the ‘Fun on the Field’ committee which raised £44,000 to improve the play equipment and area for youngsters. The eight new pieces of equipment have been installed and the school holiday created the perfect opportunity to mark the official launch.  See below link for full press release.

Fun on the field swings into action for opening of play area

For more information about this project contact Jenny Webb, Eden Housing Association’s Community Development Officer on 01768 861400 or email

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

Contact Us:Housing: 01768 861 400 Repairs: 0800 3581 401 or 01768 861434
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