Local funding for homeless project

Aspire2gether have been awarded a grant of £34,654 from The Big Lottery Support and Connect fund.

With this, Aspire2gether aims to provide a free money management advice service to individuals who are homeless and have complex needs such as significant mental health difficulties, drug/alcohol addictions or physical disabilities. The project will also address housing needs, benefit maximisation, budgeting and strengthening links to other organisations such as credit unions within Ayrshire.

The Project aims to provide free, independent, confidential information, advice and practical assistance on all aspects of managing money and addressing housing needs to individuals who are homeless and have complex needs such as significant mental health difficulties and/or drug/alcohol addictions and/or physical disabilities. The money advice includes benefit maximization, budgeting, supporting individuals to link into related organisations such as credit unions in Ayrshire. The housing information and advice will be offered to Scottish National Standards for Information & Advice Providers Type II Casework Standards. The Service will have four objectives:

1. To support service users to maximise their benefit uptake.

2. To provide specific and focussed training and support to existing housing support staff to enable them to fulfil the first 3 objectives and continue to do so when the funding for the post ends.

3.  To network with other welfare rights and benefit advice agencies in Ayrshire to create effective referral protocols and improve provision of services for homeless people with complex needs.

4. To register the prison based housing information & advice (HIA) service as an Approved Provider.

To achieve these objectives staff will be trained and supported to: Offer every individual who uses the service a full benefits check as part of a wider package of income maximisation such as budgeting, debt renegotiation/rescheduling, opening credit union accounts. With appropriate staff support, enable service users to be confident and knowledgeable in challenging decisions made by agencies such as the DWP, the Scottish Welfare Fund, debt collection agencies and private & social landlords. Enable the service user to effectively engage with Ayrshire advice agencies.

Peter Walker, Aspire2gether Chairperson said this new Lottery Funded project will fit with our Intensive Housing Support Service covering the three Ayrshire Council areas, which works with clients who are at risk of losing their tenancies, at debt risk, and lead disruptive live styles.

Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Committee Chair, said: “We’re aware of families and communities across Scotland who are struggling to cope with financial, emotional and physical pressures. Enabling people to find a way through these challenges is at the heart of our work at the Big Lottery Fund and this fund supports organisations across Scotland who are providing essential support. As we recognise the demand on these services, we’ve pledged a further £5 million to the existing £10 million already in the Support and Connect Fund. Support and Connect is designed to do two things: improve local support for people experiencing tough times, and assist organisations working within communities to deliver support in a more joined-up way so that everyone can get the help they need.”

Projects funded through Support and Connect will run over the next two years and are aimed specifically at improving local support for people experiencing hardship. The fund will also help organisations, who work with people experiencing hardship, become much better connected so that individuals dealing with complex problems get the right blend of support they need.

Aspire2gether also has a South Ayrshire Council Change Fund project HOPE (Helping Older People Engage) which is for people over 55 to enable them to make informed choices on housing needs, support and care needs as well as sustaining independence and sustain self management of you’re their own home. Community wellbeing, social support and combating social isolation is also addressed.

HOPE also focusses on making better use of housing by supporting service users to live in their own home with the help of devises and adaptions and supporting them to link into other services across South Ayrshire. HOPE monitors health and wellbeing as part of a wider package of care, advocating or liaising with other services on their service users behalf.