SeAscape: What we do
SeAscape is the shortened “user friendly” name for our charity – South Ayrshire Escape from Homelessness Limited. Since 1999 we have been helping people in South Ayrshire who are homeless or in housing need.
We started by providing a rent deposit guarantee scheme – this helps people who need to rent a property from a private landlord but who don’t have any money for a deposit – usually an amount equivalent to one month’s rent e.g. around £450 for a 2 bedroom flat at present. We help people who are receiving benefits or who have a low income and don’t have savings to use.
We offer landlords our guarantee which now lasts for a year in place of the tenant’s deposit. Then we encourage the tenants to gradually build up their own deposits by paying a few pounds to us weekly which we then hand over to the landlord at the end of the year. If this goes well the tenant then has his/her own deposit money which could be returned if they decide to leave that property in the future and be used to help them move onto another property.
As long as there is no damage or rent arrears when the move out the deposit will be returned to them by the landlord. This means that they need not be homeless again.
Between 1999 and 2001 a group of dedicated volunteers had a base in an office in the Auld Kirk in Ayr and met with people who needed our help in the Criminal Justice Building in New Road. However, in 2001 the charity managed to raise enough money to employ two part-time workers and also rented office space at Damside with an interview area. Volunteers continued to interview people who applied for a guarantee – and still do now – 15 years on.
Once we had our own office base and staff in place the demand for our help grew rapidly. It was recognised from early on that just helping people into properties was not enough – for many of the people who needed our help homelessness was only one of their problems. We had realised early on that we needed to provide support to help them sustain their new homes and that was the role of one of our workers from 2001 – 2004.
The demand for the rent deposit scheme was growing steadily and we had also lowered the age people could apply to us for help from 25 to 18. From 2004 we were able to access funding to provide much more support and every part of the rent deposit and support scheme continued to grow.
In early 2009 Big Lottery Fund awarded us five year funding to provide:
This made a big difference to our service users. We called the whole projectBridging the Gap – because that was what it did – it complemented the services we could provide from our Grant Funding from South Ayrshire Council and we were able to help people from homelessness right through to being well settled in their new homes and linked into befriending to help them settle in the community.
However, organisations like SeAscape are no longer grant funded by councils. We have to bid for contracts to allow us to carry on delivering our services. In 2012 we were awarded the contract to provide Homeless and Housing Support Services in South Ayrshire – including the rent deposit scheme. Previously several different organisations all provided parts of this service and that – and the staff who did that work - now all moved to us. The support we deliver increased from 109 hours per week to 525 – a huge growth which came into effect immediately the contract started in July 2012. We are now in year 3 of that contract.
Our Big Lottery Funding ended at the end of April 2014 and we currently have a further application being considered. We are keeping all our fingers firmly crossed.
We are delighted to be delivering the South Ayrshire Council contract and, regardless of the outcome of the present Big Lottery application, we have a lot to be grateful to Big Lottery for. However, earnings from contracts and grant funding are very tightly monitored and can only be used to pay for what is in the contract or bid.
What allows us to be different – to act purely as an independent charity and go the extra mile for our service users, by doing things like:
That is where our supporters can help by attending fundraising events or making donations – we desperately need to continue to raise money that we can use when we see a need. We want to be able to do more – providing starter packs, more group work to help people who are lonely and isolated, more help to access essential furniture and other items.
If you can help us by becoming a SeAscape Supporter - £10 per person per year/£15 per couple or if you would take part in a regular monthly postal quiz then please get in touch.
If you would like to know more about out work, would be interested in becoming a SeAscape volunteer or are a landlord who might work with us then please ‘phone 285424 or pop into the office at 8 Barns Street, Ayr – we will be delighted to hear from you.