FREE INDEPENDENT HOUSING INFORMATION, ADVICE AND ADVOCACY SERVICE
Type III Accredited Housing Information, Advice & Advocacy Service
Our Housing Advice Service is accredited to type III of the Scottish National Standards. Over the last 35 years we have provided independent information, advice and advocacy across all housing topics including homelessness, public and private rent sectors, owner occupiers, housing related benefits, disrepair and Landlord/Tenant disputes.
Our Welfare Reform Officer is responsible for ensuring that all staff can get answers quickly to specific questions in particular Universal Credit. Staff can bring individual problems arising from cases or general queries where clarification is required. Leica produces staff bulletins and guidance and provides both internal and external training to organisations and within communities. She liaises with relevant South Ayrshire Council staff, partner agencies and tenants and keeps abreast of legislative changes which impact our Service Users.
We continue to be flexible in our approach to meet the needs of our service users and deliver outreaches at Ayr Jobcentre, Care and Share at Riverside Church, the Foodbank at Lochside Church and South Ayrshire Life as well at other local organised events and open days.
Outreach is currently suspended due to COVID-19.
We strive to ensure our service users are claiming any benefits or discounts they are entitled to relieve poverty and increase incomes. In addition to this we access external alternative funding streams and grants to prevent homelessness and reduce poverty and isolation wherever possible.
Prison Housing Advice Service
The Prison Housing Advice Service covers both East and South Ayrshire areas and is fully supported by our existing Advice and Advocacy Service above. It provides a comprehensive service for Service Users who were resident in East and South Ayrshire Council Areas prior to going into prison and those who wish to return. The service is provided in HMP Kilmarnock, Barlinnie and Greenock.
This service promotes Ayr Housing Aid Centre and raises awareness of the work we do by attending events, linking in with community groups and actively engaging with South Ayrshire Council and various local services.
Engagement Services are:
First Home Service
First Home – Capacity Building Programme
Home + Service
HEY (Housing Education 4 Youths) Project
HEY provides appropriately structured information on housing and homelessness within Secondary Schools across South Ayrshire.
We deliver the information over 2 lessons covering the costs involved in running a home, tenancy rights and responsibilities, reasons for homelessness and discussions on current Welfare Reform.
HEY lessons started in 2013 and have been developed each year, successfully delivering to 5212 pupils in the last 5 years.
Part of the development work includes feedback from pupils and Teachers to improve future sessions.
COSLA Bronze Award Winner 2015 for Strong and Sustainable Communities
Tenancy Sustainment Service
Our Sustainment Service achieved the highest grade (6) at our most recent inspection by the Care Inspectorate. Key roles include:-
Crisis Intervention to prevent homelessness due to rent arrears/ mortgage arrears
Social, Private rented and owner occupied sectors
Primarily aim to stabilise tenure and encourage structure, involvement and interaction
Income Maximisation, Benefits Check, Backdating, Liaison with Landlord/Lender, Setting up repayment agreements, Dealing with Fuel Debt and linking with other services (Money Advice/Welfare Rights/ Addiction Services)
Main source of referral is South Ayrshire Council
Once crisis averted referred back to Housing Officer to refer to SeAscape for long-term support if recommended/required
First Home and Care Experienced Service
Our First Home Service also achieved the highest grade (6) at our most recent inspection. This dedicated service works with young people aged 16 – 24 who have a live housing application with South Ayrshire Council. The key aim of the service is to ensure that this age group who have applied for Council housing are provided with accurate information on the application process and tenant responsibilities.
Each young person is actively involved in assessing their own readiness of becoming a tenant and will complete various stages on their “First Home Journey” in preparation for moving into their first home.
First Home encourages young people to prepare for moving into independent living and/or avoid moving out of their current accommodation prematurely. We ensure young people are making informed choices and a secondary outcome of the service is to prevent premature tenancy failure which can disproportionately affect this age group.
The service has expanded to include young people who have been accepted as statutory homeless. The service encourages readiness with accurate information on the application process and tenant responsibilities in preparation for a successful transition from temporary accommodation to a permanent home. Key Roles:-
Provide intensive service for 16 – 24 year olds who have a live South Ayrshire Council housing application
Direct Referral from Area Housing Offices
Assess tenant readiness
Outline tenant responsibilities
Build on readiness and preparation for tenancy
Assist with household bills and budgeting
Active signposting to internal and external additional services as required
Assist to sustain tenancy
Provide assistance to access further Education, Training and Employment
2015 Gold Outstanding People Award for Innovation
First Home – Capacity Building Programme
This programme is designed to increase skills over a 6 week period with the ultimate aim of equipping young people with the knowledge and capacity to successfully live independently while skills and confidence are increased. Introductions are made to various local services who will play an important role when in their own tenancy and when they are looking at future progression routes such as further Education, Volunteering, Training and Employment Opportunities. Key Aims:
Delivered once a week for 6 weeks
Provided with further information on moving into a tenancy
Introduces and increases knowledge and skills for life
Equips young people with increased capacity to successfully live independently
Builds confidence, resilience while developing practical skills
Introduction to local services such as South Ayrshire Council, Ayrshire College, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Energy Agency
Establish portfolio containing useful information/hints and tips gained throughout the programme used as a reference tool later.
Encourages participants to take control of any future housing problems confidently and successfully
Discussions on further Education, Volunteering, Training and Employment Opportunities
A Box of useful items is presented to participants at successful completion including items used throughout the programme to enable continuation of skills and knowledge gained
Various certificates of recognition presented which act as positive reinforcement to encourage future learning
COSLA Bronze Award Winner 2016 – Achieving Better Outcomes
Designed from Service User feedback to reach the wider community to ensure practical information sessions are available for those over the First Home age group. 4 Core sessions covering topics most preferred from our research have been successfully delivered. Information is delivered in an informal and enjoyable setting to encourage engagement, enjoyment, participation, resilience and capacity.
Cooking on a budget
Basic knife safety, food preparation and healthy lifestyle options
Look at food cost differences and how to cook on a budget
Enable group confidence in cooking and showing healthier options while cooking on a budget and how to make money go further
Painting and Decorating
Practicalities of preparation work and tools needed to carry out decorating tasks
How to measure for lining paper, wallpaper, patterned paper
Mixing wallpaper paste, how to wallpaper and paint walls, glossing woodwork, amount of paint needed, etc, incorporating basic Health and Safety
Basic knowledge on how to decorate, developing practical skills
Universal Credit and Employment / Training
Welfare reform awareness including Universal Credit
How to maintain UC claim.
Changes in circumstances which can affect tenants
Local opportunities with Employability Team regarding Employment, Training and Education. How to access the service and what they have to offer
Local training services available and how to access funding opportunities
Budgeting, Money Saving and Tenancy know how
Basic budgeting and effective ways to save money including energy efficiency
Become more confident in using heating systems efficiently, info on how to provide accurate meter readings, resolving issues with fuel metres/suppliers and reducing fuel poverty
How to report repairs and process expectations from Landlord
Rights and responsibilities as a tenant
Part of the work we do involves raising awareness of the Centre and engaging with the wider Community. We attend various events, link with community groups and actively engage with South Ayrshire Council and other local services.
We have an active social media page and we always encourage the community to check for updates on community events we are attending and for general Centre updates.