Rent Review 2023

In March, we will be writing to you about the annual rent review.

This year, the rent increase will be 7%. Much of this is driven by the record inflation levels that we continue to experience.

Our rents are set using a government formula, and services charges are purely set to achieve cost recovery.  We will be sending you a rent review letter, which will give you some more information about the rent increase.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances, please contact us on 01234 321400

In most cases, the rent increases will take effect from 1 May 2023.

For residents of Bedford Charter House, residential care fees will increase from 1 April 2023.


Value for Money: A Penny for Your Thoughts

Value for money is really important at BCHA. It underpins the delivery of our vision and objectives. For us, it’s about making the right choice between cost and quality to deliver the best services to our residents that we can.

If we can optimise value for money throughout the organisation, we can free up resources to invest in services for our residents and maintain your homes to the highest standards possible.

Some of the areas we have been focussing on this financial year include:

  • Investing in technology to drive efficiency and customer service improvements
  • Supply chain and procurement
  • Environment and energy efficiency

If you’ve got any ideas about value for money, we’d love to hear from you, so please share them with a member of the team.


Resident Survey: Your Feedback

Your views matter and hearing from you about the things that we do well and those things we could do even better is really important to us at BCHA.

To help us with this, we run resident satisfaction surveys so you can tell us how things are for you and share your ideas about how we can improve services. We are in the process of reviewing your latest feedback and developing a customer service improvement plan. We will talk to you about the results of the survey and the action plan in our next edition of Citizens News. In the meantime, we are pleased to announce our winners from the prize draw for taking part in the survey:

Winners are:

Margarita Jimenez-Lopez
Marie Buchanan (pictured)
Marjorie Farthing
William Morrison

Taking everything into account, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the service provided by BCHA?

How satisfied or dissatisfied are you that your landlord provides a home that is well maintained?


Author Interview: Marilyn Freeman

In previous editions of Citizens News, we’ve introduced the novels written by our resident author Marilyn Freeman.  Here, we find out a bit more about Marilyn, her background and her journey as an author.


Where were you born, and what was your childhood like?

I was born in 1946 in a place called Hollinwood. From the name you might imagine this was a pretty place deep in a forest. Not a bit of it.

It was a small area on a main thoroughfare halfway between the smoky northern towns of Manchester and Oldham, in Lancashire, England.

My family had a little shop selling sweets and tobacco, just by the side of the very busy road, where cars and buses sped past my bedroom window at all times of the day and night.

I lived with my mother and father and my brother, two years my senior. I was surrounded by aunts and uncles and grandparents, and life was good.

My earliest memories are of sitting on the little wooden bench at the back of the shop, observing customers coming in and out, and listening to my mother chatting to them as she weighed out their sweets or handed them their packets of cigarettes. I always felt loved and cared for, even though we didn’t have much money.

Do you remember the first book you ever read?

The first book that I remember stimulating my imagination was ‘The Cloud’ by Arthur C. Clark, mainly because for some reason I ended up reading it out to my classmates at the end of a busy school year, during that lazy period between the end of exams and the start of the summer holidays. I have to admit, I was something of a success!

The first classic novel I remember reading was Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. His writing transported me into another world, far away from the smoke and grime of the northern mill town, which was the only place I had known, at the time.

What is the earliest experience you had with books/writing that you remember?

The first piece of creative writing I remember producing was a short story I created when I was 14, about being marooned at sea. My English teacher was impressed and gave me an ‘A’.

Unfortunately, I subsequently switched my attention to science and my writing career had to wait another forty years before I tried again! At the age of fifty, I began writing poetry, but it was to be another 24 years before I wrote my first novel.

What advice would you give someone with an urge to write, but who isn’t sure how to go about it?

I would say, start small. Begin by keeping a daily or weekly journal, just jotting down your thoughts and feelings about the events of the day.

These could be events in your own life, someone else’s, or even what’s happening in the outside world. Get into the habit of writing regularly, however short or long the pieces.

Once you feel more confident, try writing a short autobiographical piece, describe a person who has been important in your life, or perhaps recount an incident or event that had a profound impact on you.

“Don’t worry too much about accuracy or punctuation or spelling – there is plenty of software around that can do that job for you!”

Gradually, in my experience, your ‘writing voice’ will emerge and you will feel more comfortable about setting your thoughts down in writing.

Above all, enjoy the experience. It can transform your life, transporting you to worlds you can only, literally, imagine!


Writers Corner

BCHA resident and former nun Pauline Webb looks at religion today.

An original and groundbreaking book exploring the history, future and psychology of the Catholic church has been written by an 85-year-old former Catholic nun and teacher from Bedford.

‘Sin, Sex and Psychology: The Catholic Church on the Couch’ is the work of Pauline Webb. The book looks at a number of issues that the Catholic church has faced in recent times, and how it can become relevant to the 21st Century through psychology and philosophy. Pauline explores these concepts from the perspective of a devout Catholic who is questioning and challenging age-old certainties and modern problems facing the church today.

Born in Birmingham in 1937, Pauline came from a background where education was not considered a priority for girls. 

She attended grammar school but did not take exams, and worked in the offices of a local factory where her father worked as an engineer. She attended night school and independently studied for her O-Levels.

Pauline applied and was accepted for a teacher training course in Birmingham. It was after qualifying and teaching for a few years that she decided that her path in life was to join a French religious congregation. 

She went to Paris for a year to study both French and Philosophy, and studied English at the University of Sheffield on her return.

Pauline taught English at the Convent School in Bromham Road and, although she left the sisterhood in her 40s, she carried on teaching at St Thomas More Upper School. 

It was during this time that Pauline took an advanced course in Psychodynamic Counselling and extensively studied Freud, who has been a major influence on her life and work. She worked as a counsellor and also trained student counsellors. Pauline lived in Great Barford for many years but now lives in Bedesman House, part of the Bedford Citizens Housing Association (BCHA).

Marie Taylor, Chief Executive of BCHA, has been fascinated by Pauline’s story.

“Like many older people, Pauline has a great story to tell and is still sharing her interesting ideas and beliefs with people of all ages.”

‘Sin, Sex and Psychology: The Catholic Church on the Couch’ is available from Amazon as a free Kindle Unlimited edition and a paperback, priced at £8.50.


Governance Update March 2023

Welcoming Our New Chair of the Board, Richard Pettifer.

Good governance is really important to us at BCHA. Last year, we said goodbye to Dick, our chair of the board who retired after 10 years with the organisation.

Richard Pettifer, who joined the Board in 2022, has now taken over as chair.  Richard has extensive experience in social housing in leadership and customer facing roles, and currently works for Clarion Housing as their Director of Customer Experience.