Testway and Transform celebrate 10 and 5 years
13 Feb 2010
Geoff Mitchell
Geoff Mitchell
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Peter Lewis
Peter Lewis
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Testway Housing, and its charitable wing Transform celebrated their first 10 and 5 years respectively with a fund-raising Ball at the Sergeants Mess at the DLO in Monxton Rd.

Before the dancing, there were three speeches, extracts of which appear below.

"This was a splendid occasion, attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Test Valley, several local councillors and many supporters of Transform. The event will have raised a useful sum of money for Moneybox - which has already given £75,000 to local organisations and charities."

During the dinner, Dermot Boyle played the classical guitar. He is a talented young artist, who composes as well as plays. When he graduates later this year, he plans to go to Spain – the home of the guitar – to teach English and continue his studies

Geoff Mitchell, Chairman of Testway, welcomed the guests.

"Welcome to our double birthday ball

• Testway ten - Testway Transform five!

• Delighted to see so many people here. Thank you to Dermot Boyle for the fantastic music during the meal.

• Special welcome to Mr Mayor Cllr Ian Hibberd & Madam Mayoress Teresa Hibberd, Sir George & Lady Young, Pete & Helen Lewis.

• Testway Housing is a registered social landlord, which owns or manages around 6,000 homes in Hampshire, Berkshire and Dorset.

• We are part of the Aster Group which provides homes or help to live at home, to around 40,000 people in the central south and south west of England.

• Over 900 people work for the group.

Testway triumphs –

We’re now working outside the Test Valley. We’ve built homes in other parts of Hampshire – Southampton, Basingstoke and Fareham.

And we’ve support customers in new areas in Hampshire too.

And we’ve branched out into two new counties – Dorset and Berkshire.

In Spring 2009, we opened our first homes in Bournemouth and Padworth, West Berks

Big facts and figures

• We’ve spent over £39 million on improving our homes
• Spent £71 million building or buying almost 400 new homes
• We've provided almost 304,000 hours of face-to-face support
• We've installed 2,640 support alarms
• Testway projects have invested over £2.2 million in the community
• Our community involvement team have worked with over 100 community partners
• Over 8,000 people have been part of our community projects

Innovation and awards

We’ve looked at old problems and tried to do something new about them. And that includes working in the community and trying out new building techniques.

And this willingness to embrace innovation has been rewarded by winning local, regional and national awards.

• National Housing Federation - What we're proud of award - Southern Region winners 2009 – winners Twice as Nice

• Tenants Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) Connecting people awards 2008/09 - Green project/Initiative in the community – winners Twice as Nice

• National Housing Federation Best Neighbour award 2008 - winner John Cockaday

• Winner of communications award in the neighbourhood awards (previously iNbiz) for promotion of twice as nice in 2006

• Winner of the iNbiz Performance award 2005

• Winner of iNbiz Communications award 2004

• Winner of UK Housing award 2003 for good practice in Housing management/maintenance

Our community projects

And one of our major themes for the last 10 years has been investing in the communities where we work. Even before the National Housing Federations’ In business for neighbourhoods’ campaign began, Testway was in business for neighbourhoods – and still is.

Testway 7s –

Run by Testway Housing, Testway 7s youth and multi agency sports project uses many different sports activities to tackle youth nuisance in Andover, Romsey and other areas of the Test Valley.

Rugby, hockey, girl’s football, boxing, fishing, darts, cricket, skipping, tae-kwondo

Just one life it’s made a huge difference to

Mark Todd had never played rugby before he took part in the Testway 7s programme in 2001. In 2006 he began playing for England. The 17 year old winger, who is deaf and wears a hearing aid, made his debut for the England Deaf Rugby Union against Wales.

He says he never would have played rugby without getting involved in the Testway 7s.

Twice as Nice – opened March 2005

Our furniture recycling scheme that has helped communities to get cleaner and greener!

In the last three years that it’s been running Twice as Nice:

• helped 6,950 families with furniture for their homes.
• had 5,000 people donate furniture.
• now has 25 active volunteers helping.
• stopped 300 tonnes of furniture from being dumped – that’s about 68 elephants!!
• since March 2008 we have tested almost 1,000 white goods, adding much needed funds to keep us running.

• A volunteer who was so scared she couldn’t answer the phone when she started at TAN has recently gone on to work in Poundland.

And of course there’s Testway Transform which is celebrating it’s fifth birthday today
Testway Transform is the charity arm of Testway, which supports our local communities by supporting the community groups and charities who work there too.

• The charity’s Money Box fund helps support local community groups with their activities. Since it was formed in November 2007 we’ve given over £77,500 given to 73 groups! They have a total membership of over 6,500.

Some of the people the Money Box fund has helped included:

• Romsey Sea Cadets were land bound because they needed new boats and an overhaul of their safety boat. A grant for the Money Box bought a boat, paid for the overhaul and bought a new outboard motor for the safety boat.

• Madge Arthur, who’s well over 80, and her team of volunteers, cook a monthly lunch for over 50 elderly villagers. Many of the elderly are very isolated and rarely leave their homes. They are charged £2 for a roast lunch and pudding, afternoon entertainment and a cup of tea and a piece of cake before they go home.

A grant to pay for the hire of the village hall for two years meant that the charge could be kept to £2.

• Romsey Gateway Club, a group of people with learning difficulties, were given a grant for an outing. They went to Bournemouth to see ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and had a fish and chip lunch.

• Andover Food Bank was given money to buy a new computer, printer and software to bring them into the 21st century.

In the present economic climate, the new technology has helped the group to monitor the incoming food donations and the out-going food parcels. Helping people and families who’ve fallen on hard times, the success of the group is a life line to many.

• You can see Testway and Testway Transform have made a great deal of difference in the last 10 years. Long may it continue!"

After Geoff Mitchell, Sir George made a brief speech

"I am proud to be a Patron of Transform, and proud to be the MP that hosts both Transform and Testway.

Being a good social landlord is more than a landlord who collects the rent and does the repairs.
A good social landlord is an integral part of community – involved with employment, training, environment, sport and leisure.

Transform – the charitable wing of Testway – is an added bonus that I had not envisaged when I supported the policy of stock tarnsfer, as a Housing Minister.

Transform is needed today more than ever. There is downward pressure on public expenditure - Social services and health education budgets - and this means that more people turn to 3rd sector for help. But that very same recession makes it difficult for third sector to raise the extra funds it needs to meet extra demand.

Which is where Transform comes in, with its grants to the local 3rd sector. Geoff has outlined how Transform helps – it is great that, in difficult times, so many worthwhile projects have got oiff the ground.

Test Valley Rock School has had equipment for showcase concerts and to develop talents. Test Valley Brass Youth Band has two new horns. There is a new cooker for the Bridge, which helps feeds the homeless.

I pay tribute to Betty Balcombe, the pocket dynamo new President of Testway Transform and the team of volunteers, who are all here this evening

They are the ‘A’ team – their task is challenging but made easier by the generosity of folk in and around the town, not least those here this evening..
There is the new partnership with Andover Sound, our local radio station. The day after we launched the partnership, Transform collected a cheque for over £1,000 from a charity football match that the Andover Sound Team won. Another £2,000 was raised at the charity auction just before Christmas many here donated items
Partnerships are our key to success.
The partnership between Testway and the community, Testway Transform and its volunteers, Testway and everyone here tonight is why Testway Transform makes such a big difference to the places where we live and work.
I applaud their work and, so long as I am the local MP, I am going to go on doing all I can to help.

Pete Lewis – Andover’s Ironman - who raised over £1200 for Testway Transform by completing a double Ironman distance last year then spoke.

He said that pot noodles and corn flakes helped him complete the 4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike ride (equivalent to Andover – Lands End) and two marathons run back to back (56.2 miles), all in 32 hours!!

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