The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 23 September 2010

South Ayrshire Council shortlisted for national housing award

South Ayrshire Council is a finalist at this year’s housing ‘Oscars’ – the UK Housing Awards.

Organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing, the UK Housing Awards are designed to highlight the best practice and showcase excellence across the housing sector.

[Pictured: Councillor Douglas Campbell, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer First.]

Shortlisted in the Outstanding Achievement in Housing in Scotland category, the Council’s First Home project – aimed at addressing the increasing problem of youth homelessness and repeat youth homelessness within South Ayrshire – has been attracting much positive attention.

Launched in 2007, the key objectives of the service are to:

1. Prevent a homeless situation from arising by working with young people whilst they are still in the family home.
2. Foster skills needed to sustain their own accommodation, preventing future repeat homelessness.
3. Enable young people to play a full role in society by making access to services easier and encouraging personal development.
4. Ensure that young people understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to having their own accommodation.

Those objectives were met and surpassed, and the service will now roll out across the whole of South Ayrshire in the next two years.

The First Home Project was developed in partnership with local organisation, Aspire2gether. The Ayr based charity carry out the project on behalf of the Council, working with young people from an early stage in their pursuit of their own tenancy.

Councillor Douglas Campbell, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer First said: “I’m delighted the First Home Scheme has been shortlisted for a UK Housing Award. It’s really exciting news that the benefits of this initiative have been recognised in such a way.

“The proactive nature of the First Home project has been the key to its success, with young people actively encouraged to take responsibility for living in their own home, take the time to develop the skills they will need to maintain a tenancy in the long term, and set goals beyond moving in to their own accommodation.”

Comments made by young people using the service were very positive and included:

“I felt as though she was a friend helping me out rather than a formal worker.”

“My worker was a godsend to me. She helped me with all my forms and correspondence, including the overcharges on my electricity account.”

“I had a wonderful experience, I started with nothing and within 2 days of my referral I had a support worker who was so helpful and understanding.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the London Hilton, Park Lane, on Wednesday 10 November.

Councillor Campbell concluded: “First Home is unique in that it helps young people address their housing needs as part of a wider holistic service, which encourages personal development and makes best use of local services and opportunities.

“Of the 141 young people who used the service since 2007, only one re-presented as homeless. Quite simply, that is a fantastic endorsement of how well this project has been received and how well it has performed for vulnerable young people.

“First Home would be very worthy winners of this award and I look forward to seeing how we get on.”

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