Willowacre TrustDigital Inclusion | Employment/Training | Financial Literacy/Capability | Health and Wellbeing | Isolation/Loneliness | Older People | Place-based Approaches | Poverty | Strategy | Young People
What is the project?
Services delivered within communities include:
• Community centres, multi-use games areas and urban green spaces.
• The Imagination Library
• Starter packs, food parcels and fuel top ups
• Older people’s services within sheltered housing.
• Money and Energy Advice provided from dedicated officers supports issues relating to personal debts, budgeting, fuel debt, switching tariffs and heating systems.
• A Handyperson Service is also offered to older tenants or families which are vulnerable.
Who is the project targeted at?
Current strategy based around older people, aiming to support vulnerable tenants across West Scot HA stock, which involved work towards National Dementia Strategy.
However the Willowacre Trust aim to run programmes supporting tenants with wide varying needs, young people and those in need of employability support, low income households, vulnerable in terms of health or age. Staff training now includes informing trauma and the implications of this on their tenants to help understand and implement strategies required.
The overarching strategic are:
Tackle Poverty - Ensure that our tenants do not experience the negative effects of fuel, food or economic poverty. Ensuring that we reach those who are experiencing in work poverty
Employment, Training and Education - Enhance the life opportunities available to our tenants by supporting them to enter employment, training or education. Ensure that we reach those who are furthest away from the labour market.
Improve Health & Wellbeing - Ensure that our tenants have the best physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Ensuring that we reach those who are socially isolated.
Community Development Ensure that our tenants are active citizens within their communities. Ensure that we support asset based approaches.
Enhance the Environment - Ensure that our tenants have access to community assets and community green space which impacts on their life chances and health and wellbeing
Why did the project come about?
West of Scotland HA were aware that changing needs of people in social housing becoming or understood as more complex, and old style of operating in terms of housing and property management on its own were no longer enough. They needed augmented by robust and demand based community services. From 2012 Willowacre Trust was set up and run alongside WSHA in order to address some of these issues.
Ongoing engagement, and involvement in supporting wider locality plans and community empowerment informs us as we move forward of the competing needs and demand of our tenants and the wider community. We will continue to try to meet those demands with respect to the key areas to;
• Tackle Poverty
• Employment, Training and Education
• Improve Health & Wellbeing
• Enhance the Environment
How was this project implemented?
Willowacre Trust are subsidiary of WSHA, with separate board (that has always included the CEO of the Housing Association), and managed by myself to coordinate the engagement and consultation across our stock to then plan the required support and asses the success of current programmes to see where we could continue or further roll these out.
These are carried out across our communities across 4 separate local authority areas, and also in community Centre owned by the association that runs funded programme and partner organisations from it in Barrowfield in East End of Glasgow, an area in the top 10% of all indices of SIMD.
How was this project funded?
Funded through cocktail of external funders, with certain programmes such as Thriving places being fully funded, however in case of a model, the HA match fund general activities, with grants and some generated fund through community centre and Willowacre Trust assets making up these sums.
Funding includes – Big Lottery, GCC, Clyde Gateway, Community Job Fund Scotland
Outcomes so far
Handy person services run as community resource for older, vulnerable, tenants with disabilities. This initially ran very well in supported living accommodation, however is now working across the communities. Will look -
Financial support – debt written off, income maximation
Softer outcomes – Relationships built, improving lives and making a real difference in tenants lives through doing some of the work spoken about above.
Key piece of work planned for this year - Consultation on place standards in communities and create an action plan with tenants this will include.
However, we need to asses does the current priorities with the COVID crisis and/or if this can be done effectively remotely and implications on communities enable us to continue with this.
Community jobs programme (inc Kelvin College foundation opportunities)
Community benefits on all contracts (even small scale projects) to support training and employability levels specifically for WSHA tenants
• through success of community handyman service
• Welfare Rights support and referrals
• Wider responses to homelessness
Current situation clearly changing our focus short term, and implications might have to shift strategic aims in line with new needs of tenants. Current support that may be requires to continue to be offered (while we can continue to resource) centre around the following –
Wellbeing calls (highlighted the tenants requiring this) – currently calling some of these up to twice a day as tenant needs determine (with support from HA staff), and looking to further this amounst tenant base
Food parcels/food bank referrals – support and facilitating within Centre
Energy and mobile data top ups