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Grant funding of £175K secured by Hillcrest Homes and Abertay Housing Association has been used to provide a vital lifeline for the Dundee community, funding a wide range of valuable support for those struggling as a result of Covid-19.
The money, which came from the Supporting Communities Fund, has supported thousands in the community who are struggling with isolation, household energy bills, physical and mental disabilities, as well as funding food parcels and domestic abuse support.
The £175k, which was coordinated by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) with Hillcrest administering £100k and Abertay £75k, was broken down into several specific areas.
£30k funded emergency energy top-ups for 1,000 households, and £25k earmarked for isolation and wellbeing supported 1,156 people with well-being boxes, clothing, activity packs, telephone support, online activities, and virtual devices to help reduce loneliness.
A further £20k for recovery and outreach services was distributed to 11 organisations working with those with alcohol and substance issues, as well as young people’s services and women’s rape and abuse centres. The final portion of the money administered by Hillcrest saw £20k earmarked for supporting early release prisoners with recovery support and home starter packs.
The £75k administered by Abertay was distributed to 24 organisations in the city, including £50k funding for a number of foodbanks. £10k funding was each distributed to organisations working with those suffering from poor mental health, and those experiencing domestic abuse, with the nationwide lockdown seeing both of these issues skyrocket. Finally £5k was provided to fund starter packs for people moving into a new home.
The funding administered across the city by Hillcrest and Abertay supported over 17,000 individuals and households in total, with almost 14,000 households receiving funded food parcels and 1,000 households receiving emergency energy top-ups of £30 each.
With the national lockdown bringing challenges such as lost or reduced income, as well as spikes in poor mental health, suicide, and domestic abuse, this funding sought to make important inroads into easing some of these issues within the local community.
Angela Linton, Hillcrest Chief Executive said: “When the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the country, the national lockdown was an important step in stemming the spread of the virus – however, it also resulted in many people struggling in different ways.
“Partnering with Abertay Housing Association, we identified key areas and groups within the community who were most affected, and were delighted to secure significant funding to put our plans into action to address these struggles.
“Along with our partners, we have a fantastic network established throughout the local community, which was invaluable in enabling us to distribute the funds and support quickly and effectively to those who needed it most.”
Barry Moore, Abertay Housing Association Chief Executive said: “Abertay wishes to do all it can to support those in our communities adversely effected by the unprecedented health and financial implications of Covid-19. This funding has greatly assisted in that regard. I have been deeply moved by the plight of the people of Dundee over this period and the Association is happy to help in any way it can. Partnering with Hillcrest Homes helped to maximise the benefit to the people of Dundee.”
Sally Thomas, Chief Executive, SFHA, said: “Social landlords, such as Hillcrest Homes and Abertay Housing Association, have played a central role during the pandemic by distributing funding to organisations that are helping to support those worst affected by Covid-19.
“As community anchors, housing associations are perfectly placed to work directly with communities at a local level, understanding their priorities and directing the money to where it is most needed. The scale and range of support that Hillcrest and Abertay have provided is fantastic, from energy costs to mental health support, from loneliness to food.
“We are delighted to have been able to work with the Scottish Government on the Supporting Communities Fund to enable Hillcrest and Abertay, as well as many of our other members across the country, to do this essential work in, and with, their communities in response to the pandemic.”
One mother, not wishing to be named and commenting on the support she received through food parcels, added: “Without the help of the community foodbank I have no idea how I would have been able to feed my family, and I am extremely grateful for the kindness shown to my family over such a stressful period in my life.”