Life-changing new tenant support service launched in Dumfries and Galloway

A new service has launched in Dumfries and Galloway helping housing association tenants settle into their homes.

My Great Start is giving support to tenants to help sustain their tenancies as part of an early intervention programme launched by Wheatley Homes South and Wheatley Foundation.

The service, described as “brilliant” by one tenant it has supported, will be rolled out across Dumfries and Galloway and will also help tenants of other housing associations in the region. Tenants of Cunninghame Housing Association, Home Group and Riverside Scotland will also be able to access the Wheatley-run service.

Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, My Great Start is delivered in partnership with Independent Living Support, a Dumfries and Galloway-based charity which works across the region since to tackle social isolation and support those with mental health issues.

Advisors will support tenants within the first six months of their tenancy with everything from benefits advice and budgeting skills to help getting online, accessing health care, and integrating into their community.

Douglas McAvoy, 48, from Kirkconnel has been receiving support from My Great Start since moving into his Wheatley Homes South home in January 2024.

He said: “After being in a bedsit and a private let that didn’t work out, I wanted to move into a housing association home to improve things for me. In January I moved into a Wheatley Homes South home in Kirkconnel.

"My Great Start has been helping me with my literacy skills, to help me improve, and they’ve been brilliant. If anything goes wrong, I know there's people there to help me – whether that's Wheatley Homes South or Independent Live Support. It's a huge relief knowing there's people there who can help.

“If there are people out there struggling with their tenancy and need some support, I’d definitely tell them to speak to their housing officer about My Great Start. It’s made a huge difference to me, even just knowing there’s someone I can pick up the phone and speak to.”

Alex Lamb, Managing Director of Wheatley Homes South, said: “At Wheatley, we are doing all we can to support our tenants across Dumfries and Galloway in these difficult times and it’s great to hear the difference this has already made to Douglas.

“My Great Start is an invaluable service which is helping vulnerable tenants avoid the worry of losing their tenancy and we are very proud to be working with Wheatley Foundation to roll it out to tenants of other housing associations across the region.

“This service will help people keep their home and provide the necessary support when they need it most, right at the beginning of their tenancy. The advisors will help tenants organise their finances, improve their confidence and social skills and establish a network in their local community helping them to sustain their tenancy.”

The Wheatley Foundation, Wheatley Group’s charitable arm, invested £6.7 million in 2023/24 in a range of social and economic programmes across Scotland, focusing on poverty, employability, education, digital inclusion, and sports and the arts.

Professor Paddy Gray, Chair of Wheatley Foundation, added: “My Great Start is an invaluable service supporting tenants at the start of their tenancy and Wheatley Foundation is proud to launch it in Dumfries and Galloway alongside colleagues from Wheatley Homes South.”

Russell Brown, Chair of Independent Living Support (ILS) said: “Staff and trustees of Independent Living Support have delivered housing sustainability projects over many years and a core function of ILS is assisting people to thrive. To work with Wheatley Foundation, Wheatley Homes South and National Lottery to deliver this innovative project in D&G is progressive and an area of interest that ILS has championed since being founded.”

Any tenant in the region who believes they would benefit from My Great Start, should speak to their housing officer.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024