The aim is to provide a collective response to an emerging humanitarian threat
Charities and voluntary organisations in Livingston are joining forces to support people at risk of falling victim to the cost of living crisis.
Craigshill-based Social Enterprise Spark is collaborating with Growing Together – a local partnership involving Almond Housing Association, the West Lothian Youth Action Project and The Conservation Volunteers – to provide a safety net for vulnerable individuals and groups facing hardship.
Together, they are planning to host a series of community activities and events, as well as ‘warm hubs’, a community cinema and access to food supplies and the company of others.
The aim is to provide a collective response to an emerging humanitarian crisis, as rising food and fuel costs threaten to leave thousands of people cold and hungry through the winter.
In the longer-term, the organisations plan to lodge joint funding applications to West Lothian Council and the Scottish Government to help improve the local physical environment.
The collaboration will see Almond Housing Association’s tenants invited to Spark events and given access to its entire support network.
The social enterprise – whose aim is to reduce loneliness and social isolation by providing activity groups, trips, events, and volunteering opportunities – will also join forces with members of the West Lothian Youth Action Project and The Conservation Volunteers to improve the look of the area, including litter picking and maintaining green spaces, as council services face further cutbacks.
Spark’s CEO Alex Fleming said: “We hope to empower people to a greater extent. By working together, we will be stronger than the sum of our parts.
“Being in a partnership will allow us to lodge joint funding applications and support each other’s projects. Spark has a lot of volunteers. We could put together a group of people and get them together with the Growing Together group to improve the overall appearance of Craigshill.”
She added: “Funders are now actively looking at these types of partnerships which can deliver greater value in a shorter space of time.
“With high fuel prices, combined with continuing rises in food prices and central and local government cutbacks, many people in our community are at risk of falling through the widening cracks in the welfare system.
“It’s up to us as charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations to do what we can to make sure than people don’t suffer.
“We also believe that the more people who are involved supporting and volunteering the less will be the stigma attached to using our services. Everyone in our community has their part to play.”
John Davidson, chief executive of Almond Housing Association, said: “We are proud to support joint working with our various partners.
“Almond Housing Association is determined to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the local community, and the work being done via the partnership aligns perfectly with our new Community Impact Strategy which was recently approved by our board.
“The strategy outlines our determination and approach to facilitating and achieving even greater impact on the communities we serve. We are determined to move towards our company vision ‘Striving to Improve Life Experiences and Opportunities’ and the work of the partnership is a great example of this in action”