Housing Options Scotland extends support offering to clients and beyond
Housing charity Housing Options Scotland has extended its house search support to include help beyond home finding.
The charity helps disabled people, members of the armed forces and older people to find homes. With a team of brokers, volunteers and directors, the charity looks to find the Right Home in the Right Place. Once placed in their new homes, the charity identified the need for a little additional support in getting settled, and so they have worked hard to produce guides with essential information about their new living area.
However, recognising the practicality of this resource, the charity has decided to make the guides available to all members of the public.
Moving house can be a challenging experience for anyone; securing a rental contact or purchasing a property just marks the beginning.
Housing Options Scotland’s clients are offered comprehensive support in the housing search process, with a ‘Housing Buddies’ scheme, and with dedicated case workers to oversee each stage. However, the charity became aware that more support was needed beyond obtaining the home.
Moira Bayne, Housing Options Scotland CEO, was keen to help further. She said: “It’s a very involved process finding the right place for a client, and we wanted to produce something practical to help with their integration into their new living areas.”
The area guides were born: a practical online guide listing all you need to know when moving house, including a housing check list, local services, leisure activities, and key contacts. It covers everything, from debt charities to contact should you need them, to practical housekeeping, such as locating your gas meter.
The information for the guides has largely been compiled by volunteers, who are key to the charity’s development. Volunteers are assigned a county, then set out to find out all that is essential to know about the region, and extract the vital information from large local authority websites.
The guides had to be produced with sensitivity. Paula Clearly, who researched for the Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire guides, commented: “We had to think carefully about the client group of people, and their vulnerability, and wanted to give them enough information to follow-up, but not by spoon-feeding them.”
The guides contain a good amount of information, but everything contains links and hyperlinks, so the client will be engaging with the services themselves; knowing where to go on a council website for example.
Ms Cleary added: “Rather than actually telling people about things, the guide allows the clients to retain their independence, and just talks them through who they need to contact and where to find their details.”
When the distribution of the guides was being discussed, it was decided at board level that rather than only being promoted to the charity’s clients, these guides should be available to anyone who needed them.
Moira Bayne added: “We are a housing charity, and though our focus is primarily in aiding our clients to find a home, we want to extend our help to anyone who might need it: these guides are a fantastic resource for anyone moving house, and we would like as many people to use them as possible.”
There are currently four completed guides, which are available to view online.
Housing Options are working to produce guides for the remaining 29 counties. The guides are all available to view online here.