‘The right home in the right place’

Few would dispute that the last six months have been challenging for many. But in this blog, Sandra Brydon, director of Home Group Scotland, says she’s never been prouder of how her team have risen to the challenge of COVID-19 and helped people find a safe place to call home.

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At Home Group Scotland, we’re proud to support and be part of Scottish Housing Day. The sector has been amazing in its response to the COVID 19 pandemic. I’ve worked in this sector for over 40 years and dealt with many a crisis, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt as proud as I have over the last few months.

The theme of Housing Day this year is the value of social housing – we all know that having a home that is warm, affordable and accessible has never been more important.   

As a sector, we’ve gone above and beyond what has been expected of us to make sure customers have been safe and supported and I’m incredibly proud of our team in Scotland for the extra they have done and the support they’ve provided. Our customers have remained our number one priority. 

Our team have worked hard to ensure all customers have a safe place to stay during lockdown. A £100,000 emergency fund was put in place for customers who are struggling to afford the essentials like food and baby items. Those who live alone and those who are vulnerable have been contacted by the team to ensure that food deliveries have been set up and that they have access to their prescriptions.

When lockdown rules were in full force and most colleagues working from home, most house moves had been postponed. However, we’ve made sure that people in vulnerable situations have been able to move. 

We had two situations where women were fleeing difficult situations and needed to move desperately. The team looked at these individual cases and decided that waiting until lockdown was over was not an option. They worked hard and quickly to make moves possible and ensured everything could be done as safely as possible. The customers were extremely grateful to have been able to move to a safe environment during this distressing time.

In an even more extreme case, one customer who has now been successfully housed in Dundee had been forced onto the streets during lockdown. They had been living in a homeless unit and left just before lockdown was announced. Upon returning, they are not allowed back in or even to collect their things. The team was able to work closely with Dundee City Council and the customer’s support worker to get them a permanent and safe home.

Although not ‘category one’ key workers, our team at Home Group Scotland have excelled in their duty of care and filled in many gaps. As well as making sure customers have safe homes, we’ve also been driving PPE to services that need it, delivering activity packs to kids living in flats, or simply checking in on customers who we know live alone and who may be struggling emotionally, as many of us have. 

As we look at COVID 19 being in our world for a while yet, we’re now starting to think hard about what the future looks like and how best we can continue to support our customers. 

We all know that social housing is vital to help the most disadvantaged communities and our aim at Home Group continues to be to provide sustainable communities by delivering the right homes in the right places supported by our brilliant team in Scotland.