Snowfall highlights local associations’ focus on vulnerable tenants

Community-based housing associations have come to the fore to ensure vulnerable people in their community were able to cope with the impact of the heavy snowfall, according to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF).

As the ‘Beast from the East’ swept over the UK bringing freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall, feedback gathered by the Forum from more than 20 of its member associations on Friday showed that many local housing associations had gone to great effort to ensure their most vulnerable tenants had heat, food and liquids.

Helen Moore

Helen Moore, GWSF chair, said: “Each housing association will have faced different types of challenges, with an obvious factor being how many staff live locally and were able to get in without relying on cars or public transport. We know some staff will have found it completely impossible to get in, but a number of associations commented on the fantastic attitude and determination of staff to make it in so that essential support could be provided.

“It has been significant how many local associations told us that even when the office was officially closed, they were doing a lot to cover the phones, ring people known to be vulnerable, help supply food and get prescriptions, and carry out a whole range of outdoor work such as clearing paths and digging cars out. One association said it had even purchased its own grit.

“Emergency repairs services have been maintained in many cases, despite obvious challenges such as plumbers merchants being closed during the worst of the weather. And a couple of associations told us they could offer to help any neighbouring association which may be struggling with getting staff in.

“We know every type of housing association will have been doing its best in these difficult circumstances, but it’s at times like these that locally responsive community based associations really show what being truly local means.

“We know that the thaw is bringing further challenges, but after things have settled down we’ll be doing what we can to learn from this experience so that we’re even better prepared should this happen again.”

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