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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Housing charity doubles support during lockdown

This news post is 10 months old

Housing Options Scotland has seen the amount of people it works with rise significantly

A housing charity has doubled the amount of support it offers since Covid-19 struck.

Housing Options Scotland is a charity which helps disabled people, older people and veterans to find their own homes.

The organisation works across public and private housing sectors, social housing and adapted properties to ensure that their clients find the right homes for them.

After carrying out a review to start the new year, chief executive Moira Bayne discovered that the charity has seen its client numbers almost double from 484 last financial year, to 759 this financial year.  

The volume of enquiries to the charity has vastly increased and there are a few factors behind this. Like every area of life in the pandemic, the housing sector has been under enormous strain: housing associations and local councils have been working at a reduced capacity, with many offices empty and a higher number of staff absences. Viewings have also not been available and waiting lists have increased. People have reached out to the charity in response to the slowing of the sector, as Susan Mendelovitch, a broker at the charity, explains.

She said: "Because we are accessible online and still working at full capacity many clients are coming to us for advice and support."

Jil Dyson, another broker at the charity thinks that lockdown conditions have also contributed to the increase.

She said: "I also think people being in their house so often due to Covid has maybe highlighted some issues of where they currently stay."

Where problems at home may have seemed manageable when out at the office all day, when faced with trying to work from home, the unsuitability of housing has become emphasized. As well as issues with accommodation, domestic problems have become unmanageable too, with an increase in marital breakdowns and relationship difficulties forcing people to change their living situation.  

As well as the issues exacerbated by the pandemic, the charity has also made some positive changes to improve the accessibility to their services: refinements have been made to the website to make the process of enquiring easier and self-referral is much more straightforward. Ben Parker, volunteer and engagement manager, has managed the charity’s marketing strategy and its strong visibility on the social platforms has contributed.  

Housing Option Scotland’s work from home policy has undoubtedly helped colleagues to manage the increase in workload: this policy was in place long before the pandemic, so the employees have been unaffected by this transition.

Susan Mendelovitch explained: "Sometimes the increase is overwhelming but we have a great support system in place at HOS and we can always ask for help from our colleagues. We can also reduce our time spent on cases as we have a triage meeting every three weeks where we identify what our clients realistic options are and can move forward with these!"

In addition, with a strong team of housing buddies and bolunteers supporting the charity, the brokers can manage their workload.  

Moira Bayne added that she feels very fortunate to have been busy in such uncertain times and continuing to see good outcomes for the clients but recognises the strength of her team.

She said: "If you want something done, ask a busy person at Housing Options Scotland!"



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