Housing providers spotlight work to help communities overcome pandemic


Housing providers spotlight work to help communities overcome pandemic

The scale of the efforts of six housing associations to bring pandemic relief to their communities has been highlighted in a new report.

The six – including five in Renfrewshire and one in East Renfrewshire – have stepped into action with financial support to help alleviate the unprecedented chaos of the health emergency affecting tenants and the communities they serve.

The Federation of local housing associations (FLAIR) consists of Bridgewater, Ferguslie Park, Williamsburg, Cashmere, Flax stone and Barrhead housing associations. It has been in operation for 32 years.

Now, they’ve produced their annual “Community Engagement Across Flair” report outlining exactly what they’ve done to lend a hand during the many difficult months of the pandemic.

In a series of eye-catching examples of their inspiring work, they demonstrated the crucial role housing associations play in their communities and the difference they can make.

The work all six did during the height of the pandemic included:

  • At the Barrhead Housing Association, working with the Citizens Advice Bureau East Renfrewshire Energy Partnership, £ 19,269 was distributed to 257 residents struggling with fuel costs or fuel debt. The Association distributed a total of £ 104,750 from the Scottish Government’s Community Support Fund. Barrhead even helped pay for 128 school uniforms for families in need.
  • In Erskine-based Bridgewater, a link with the organization Renfrewshire Renfrewshire Association for Mental Health (RAMH) provided support to tenants by enhancing its existing welfare entitlement service. Tenants were able to access over £ 156,000 in additional income or benefits, as well as an additional £ 155,000 due to the link with RAMH. Bridgewater worked closely with other organizations including Community Action for Erskine (CAE) and provided financial support for their emergency food distribution.
  • Ferguslie Park and its charity affiliate, the Tannahill Center, secured remarkable funding of £ 408,799 and worked with local volunteers to support the most vulnerable in their community. Examples include 21,374 home food deliveries, 18,511 meals prepared at the Tannahill center while 72 digital devices were distributed to help children with home schooling during the lockdown.
  • Linstone has set up its Linstone Response Group and distributed £ 300,000 in Scottish Government funding. Of this, 38 local charities were helped, 25% of the funding went to emergency food aid, £ 50,000 helped set up the organizations’ own emergency response groups, which in in turn have helped charge phones, power refills and tablets for home schooling. During the emergency, Linstone reached 1,800 households and secured support for 193 children.
  • The Paisley Housing Association provided £ 36,000 in emergency aid, ranging from help with paying energy bills, supermarket vouchers and cell phone refills. Around £ 15,000 was allocated to a Christmas hardship fund for 250 vulnerable households, while £ 6,000 was allocated to an Easter holiday fund – which included the delivery of children’s activity boxes to families. The welfare department has provided significant support to tenants, with 360 of them being helped on 800 issues, with £ 1.3million raised including £ 200,000 in backdated benefits.
  • Williamsburgh has secured ‘crisis grants’ for tenants totaling £ 3,440 as well as school clothing grants totaling £ 900. Williamsburgh provided £ 17,708 to its most vulnerable tenants to help pay fuel bills, while 30 Warm Home Discount payments were secured for a total of £ 4,000. Digital devices, children’s activity kits and emergency food packages were also provided. Williamsburgh Primary School received sports equipment totaling £ 1,000.

A FLAIR spokesperson said the help and support was a “powerful reminder of the deep roots that each housing association has developed in their communities.”

He said: “The housing association group FLAIR is proud of the efforts we have made during the pandemic – an emergency that has literally changed people’s lives. Job losses, time off and mental well-being have all posed huge challenges for families – especially those who are vulnerable, low-income, the isolated and the elderly. We feel very privileged to have been able to help in times of crisis for so many people. “

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