Housing Options Scotland launch new volunteer blog

Volunteer Blog LaunchHousing Options Scotland are celebrating the launch of our new volunteer blog!

The blog – https://volunteerhos.com – details the amazing work of our volunteers. Featuring profiles and interviews with volunteers, updates on what volunteers get up to, information on how get involved and promoting all things volunteering here at Housing Options Scotland.

Ben Parker, Volunteer Coordinator at Housing Options Scotland said:

“It’s great to have a place to celebrate the brilliant work of our volunteers! They are a fantastic asset to the team and it’s important that we are able to share that with the world.”

 

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with Housing Options Scotland, visit the ‘Get Involved!’ section of the blog here, or contact Ben at ben@housingoptionsscotland.org.uk.

Join Take One Action Film Festival for the opening film of their 2019 programme

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Wed 18th Sept | 20:20 | Filmhouse, Edinburgh
Thurs 19th Sept | 19:30 | CCA, Glasgow
Book tickets
: http://bit.ly/TOA_P

Landlords without faces, apartments without renters… Housing prices are skyrocketing in cities across the world, but incomes are not – pushing long-term residents out.

This is not gentrification, it is a relatively new economic reality: housing as a financial product, an investment of choice for corporate finance, a place to park money. More and more cities are servicing the wishes of global capital over the needs of most of their population. So how do we push back and reclaim the streets?

In New York, London, Barcelona, Seoul and Valparaiso, this incisive documentary by investigative filmmaker Fredrik Gertten (Bikes vs Cars, TOAFF15) follows Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, as she meets with residents, mayors, campaigners and economists to reclaim housing as a human right, not a commodity.

BEYOND THE SCREEN:
We will be joined in conversation by Rhiannon Sims (Research and Policy Advisor, Oxfam Scotland), Debbie King (Senior Community Organiser, Shelter Scotland) and Scott Donohoe (Chair of UNISON’s Scottish Housing Issues and Welfare Group) in Edinburgh, and by Rhiannon Sims (Research and Policy Advisor, Oxfam Scotland), Lisa Borthwick (Senior Campaigns and Policy Manager, Shelter Scotland) and Lilian Macer (International Officer, UNISON North Lanarkshire) in Glasgow, to explore the factors fuelling the housing crisis in Scotland – and the many campaigns to address and challenge it.

Discover the full line up here http://bit.ly/TOAFF19_Events

A day in the life of our CEO – Moira Bayne

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In the final part in this series, we asked our CEO Moira Bayne, what ‘A day in the life’ was like at Housing Options Scotland for her. Here’s what she had to say:

What does a the CEO for HOS do?

Think . Plan. Worry. Persuade . Delegate. Listen. Share. Learn. Decide. Prevaricate. Laugh. Cry. Sometimes all at once .

What is your commute like in the morning?

I don’t have a commute thank goodness. I can work from anywhere and everywhere.

What is the first thing you do when you get to your desk? Tell us about your workspace, is it tidy or messy?

My workspace is tidy unlike my brain.

What does agile working mean to you?

It means never having to commute to an office only to leave said office to go to a meeting.

How do you communicate with your colleagues?

By email. WhatsApp, Face to Face, telephone and sometimes telepathy.

 

What do you listen to at your desk? Or do you like silence and why?

I like total silence. I do talk to myself though.

What does a normal day look like for you?

I will let you know once I have one

What is your favourite thing to do for lunch when you are working?

I like to meet up with our associates and board members .

What do you find most interesting about your job?

The variety and the highs and lows. It can be a very fast moving environment so usually a low is swiftly followed by a high.

Tell us one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?

I have no secrets. My love for the Archers, Strictly and cake are well known. I can however sing “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?” backwards. Does that count?

Tell us something about your job that most people wouldn’t know?

I think it is well known that I have the best job in Scotland.

What is the best thing about working for Housing Options Scotland?

Easy. The people. To go with the best job in Scotland the HOS team are the best. Knowledgeable, empathetic, tenacious, funny, energetic. Can’t think of any more superlatives right now.

 

Inappropriate housing causing disabled people ‘physical and mental harm’

 

Leading housing experts are warning that disabled home-seekers are experiencing adverse emotional and mental distress due to a lack of suitable accommodation.

It follows the publication of an 18-month long study led by researchers at the University of Stirling, Housing Options Scotland and Horizon Housing Association, which looked at the effectiveness of allocations and lettings practice for accessible and adapted social housing in Scotland.

Of the 28 disabled home-seekers based in three local authority areas, who took part in the research, the majority received inappropriate housing offers, or no offers at all, during the course of the study.University of Stirling researchers Dianne Theakstone and Julia Lawrence adopted a co-production approach which ensured disabled people were closely involved throughout the study.

During interviews with researchers, one participant seeking a more suitable home described how, even with a stair-lift installed in her current accommodation, she had to make eight transfers between chair, wheelchair, stair-lift and toilet – and back again – in order to use the bathroom.

Professor Isobel Anderson, who led the research team, said: “Disabled people’s extended lived experience of inappropriate housing, while waiting for a more accessible home, clearly causes considerable physical and mental harm. The key findings highlighted a proactive approach from local housing providers, yet distance between their aspirations and the experiences of disabled people.

“Disabled people and their families should have equal housing opportunities and the right to an accessible home in the community that ensures and protects their human rights. This academically rigorous report gives all stakeholders the opportunity and evidence to shape lettings policy and practice to optimise effectiveness in matching disabled people to suitable homes, as well as increasing our stock of accessible housing.”

Supported by a research grant from the Disability Research into Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) programme, the Match Me study also uncovered important evidence that the assessment of the suitability of a property should not only consider the access and internal features of the home, but should also look at the accessibility of the external environment and the opportunities for the applicant to maintain local support networks.

Some disabled interviewees argued strongly that access to a garden should be recognised by housing allocation systems as a facilitator for emotional and mental wellbeing, and suggested that the needs of the entire household should be taken in to consideration – not solely those of the main applicant.

The final report offers practical and policy recommendations to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), local authorities, Scottish Government and the Scottish Housing Regulator linked to housing allocations, adaptations, design and new supply.

Bill Scott from DRILL said: “Previous research has shown that inappropriate housing causes harm to physical and mental health and this research showed how the stress of the allocations processes and waiting times experienced by the participants could also be harmful to their well-being”.

Isla Gray, Interim Managing Director, Horizon Housing Association, said: “We are grateful for the grant support of DRILL, which has allowed us to build on our scoping study, Matching Up, resulting in this report. The report provides substantial insight into the experiences of disabled housing applicants and practice improvements that can address the inequality of housing opportunities and outcomes that persist for too many disabled households.

“The findings will be useful for government, the Scottish Housing Regulator and to housing and service providers – as well as for health and social care providers working with disabled people.”

Moira Bayne, Chief Executive, Housing Options Scotland, added: “Serving over 600 disabled households in need each year, we see first-hand the impacts of effective allocations policy and practice, but also what happens where services have not been accessibly designed and are insufficiently flexible to deliver the individualised solutions often needed.

“We warmly welcome this report as an important resource for RSLs, local authorities and Scottish Government, who are working to increase housing supply for disabled people.”

The research can be found here:

Match Me – Executive Summary

Match Me – What works for adapted social housing lettings

 

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Housing Animation Competition! Deadline extended to the 16th September!

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Do you want to be in with the chance of winning £50 of high street vouchers?

Is there something about housing you would like to learn about?

Then read on….

 

Finding a home can be a complicated process, even more so if you have a disability or long standing illness, so Housing Options Scotland will be producing 3 animations about housing to provide people with information on what is important to them, and we want to hear from you on what these animations should be about!

It’s very simple to get involved, if you are a disabled or older person living in Scotland all you need to do is email fraser@housingoptionsscotland.org.uk by the 16th September at 12pm and tell us what you think we should make an animation about and why.

It can be anything from renting to ownership, adaptations to mortgages, as long as its about housing and you can tell us why this subject is important to you! Maybe you rented a home and you found the process difficult, perhaps you bought a home and you think people would be interested in the process.

So send us an email of no more than 150 words and if we pick your idea, you’ll receive £50 of high street vouchers, we’ll credit you in the final animation and you’ll get to see it before anyone else does! (please include your name and which local authority you live in)

Good Luck! We look forward to hearing your ideas!

Abbeyfield Scotland has vacancies

AbbeyfieldAre you are over 55 and want to remain independent but can no longer stay at home? Abbeyfield Scotland provides supported accommodation in a small and family friendly environment for those who are not yet ready for a care or residential nursing home.

People living in Abbeyfield have said “I was reluctant to leave my own home at first and I certainly didn’t want to go into an “Old People’s Home” – Abbeyfield is nothing like that, you have your own space. We all enjoy coffee, activities and home cooked meals together”.

Abbeyfield is a really special place and it has been the perfect move for me.  Loneliness is such a debilitating thing but Abbeyfield offers a warm, friendly and secure environment that gives me peace of mind. I’m sure there must be others out there thinking about a move and looking for a bit of help. I’d urge them to find out more about what Abbeyfield has to offer.

Abbeyfield currently have vacancies in several of their properties across Scotland, click here to find out more: https://www.abbeyfield-scotland.com

A day in the life of our Head of Engagement & Development – Fraser Gilmore

FrasertrainingIn part 7 of our series, we asked our Head of Engagement & Development, Fraser Gilmore, what ‘a day in the life’ at Housing Options Scotland was like for him. Here’s what he had to say:

1. What does the Head of Engagement & Development do?

I have a very varied role in the organisation, currently I am concentrating very much on fundraising, project development and external engagement. One part of my work that people will notice the most, is our voice on twitter, facebook, our website and any press releases or articles, if you have read any of these recently, chances are they were written (or edited) by me.

2. What is your commute like in the morning?

Like most people in the organisation, it totally depends on what the day brings. If I have a desk day, then I will be working from home. If I have a meeting, an event to go to, a conference to attend or a talk to do, I can be anywhere in Scotland. In the last year alone, I have been as far north as Thurso and as far south as Stranraer.

3. What is the first thing you so when you get to your desk? Tell us about your workspace, is it messy or tidy?

The first thing I do when I get to my desk is switch on my computer, log into work through our WhatsApp page to tell the team what I’ll be doing that day, take a big sip of coffee and jump in to my day. If I am out and about, the big sip of coffee will be taken in my car or public transport to get me to wherever I am going.

My desk itself is always very tidy, I am a big believer in ‘a tidy house, a tidy mind’, I find mess very distracting.

4. What does agile working mean to you?

I have worked in a variety of work settings and agile working definitely works best for me. If I have a desk day at home, I can really get in to what ever I am doing that day without distraction and I really feel that it makes me more productive. But the best thing about it for me is work life balance, if I am working from home, it means  I get to spend the day with my wee dog Tess in an environment that I am most comfortable.

5. How do you communicate with colleagues?

We embrace technology at HOS, so we use WhatsApp for telling people where we are and what we are doing, we have a Cloud server which means that we can work on documents and files together from different locations, some of us use video conferencing to have meetings together and we have smart phones so we can keep in touch via text, email and phone calls from where ever we are.

But it’s always important to have face to face meetings, which we do one to one or at team meetings. Even though geographically our team are based all over, we work very closely together.

6. What do you listen to at your desk? or do you like silence?

I generally start my day having the news on in the background and then switch to music quite quickly. What I listen to totally depends on my mood, but I like something with a good beat.

7. What does a normal day look like for you?

There is no such thing, LOL! That’s what I love about my job. I can be at my desk one day, at a meeting or event the next. No day or week is the same.

8. What is your favourite thing to do for lunch when you are working?

Having a nice sandwich and playing with my wee dog Tess.

9. What do you find most interesting about your job?

I am a people person and in my role I get to meet some amazing people. One thing I really love doing is  case study interviews with clients we have supported, by this point they have usually moved in to a new home or have had their current home adapted for their needs, so I get to see how the hard work of the team has helped an individual/ family. I then get to communicate this to others who may be going through the same journey through film or text.

10. Tell us one thing that people might not know about you?

I love to sing!

11. What is the best thing about working for Housing Options Scotland?

HOS is a brilliant organisation to work for and its really hard to pick one thing. We are a close knit team who are all very supportive of each other, agile working means a great work life balance and I am really interested and engaged in my job.

A day in the life of our Volunteer Coordinator – Ben Parker

 

Would you likHousing Options Scotland Pictured  Margaret Follon ,Edinburgh  Photograph by Martin Shields  Tel 07572 457000 www.martinshields.com © Martin Shieldse to find out more about what our team do at Housing Options Scotland? Well here’s your chance! In part 6 of this series, we asked our very own Ben Parker what ‘a day in the life’ was like for our Volunteer Coordinator. Lets see what he had to say:

1.What does the Volunteer Coordinator for HOS do?

My role is to work with our current crop of volunteers to expand and develop the volunteer programme at HOS, as well as to find opportunities to recruit new volunteers and increase the reach of what we do. It’s a new role within the organisation so there’s an element of freedom in terms of what projects I’m able to work on.

2. What is your commute like in the morning?

I work part time and have a second job, so my commute depends on my schedule and where I’m coming from or going to next. Sometimes I work from a co-working space in Edinburgh so days based there involve a short walk into the city centre.

3. What is the first thing you do when you get to your desk? Tell us about your workspace, is it tidy or messy?

Without fail, the first thing I do on a morning is open my tracking spreadsheet where I record all the different tasks and projects I’m working on. Usually, I scribble some things down onto paper to tick off and litter my desk with Post-It notes too. Despite this, I do like to keep my workspace organized and once I’ve signed off for the day, I always have a tidy-up ready for the next time I’m in. I often use my desk on an evening for different projects too, so I like to have a good system for finishing up on a night.

4. What does agile working mean to you?

Because I have a second job and other responsibilities too, agile working means being able to easily fit my hours around different commitments. Knowing that I can work from pretty much anywhere helps me to plan my time much more effectively.

5. How do you communicate with your colleagues?

As a team, we use WhatsApp and message each other updates through the day. I usually speak to my line manager, Fraser, once a day on the phone but if we are planning on having a more in-depth chat about something, we like to meet in person or use Zoom – a video conferencing program.

6. What do you listen to at your desk? Or do you like silence and why?

I always have music playing – silence is very distracting! Usually, what I listen to is very eclectic and dictated by my mood.

7. What does a normal day look like for you?

That’s a tricky question to answer! Most days start with a chat with Fraser, a review of my emails and making a quick plan for the day (or evaluation of where I’m at in terms of my week). Beyond that, things are very varied.

8. What is your favourite thing to do for lunch when you are working?

I usually eat something light and healthy, and make sure that I go for a quick walk round the block too. At this point I get jealous thinking of my colleagues who have dogs in their lives to walk!

9. What do you find most interesting about your job?
Because my role is new to the organisation, the most interesting thing for me is having the opportunity to mould/shape things in whatever direction I see fit. It’s exciting to know that I have lots of freedom in my role.

 10. Tell us one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?

I’m scared of mice!

 11. Tell us something about your job that most people wouldn’t know?

When I speak to people about my job, they often forget that we are a nationwide charity and that our volunteers are therefore based all around the country. That’s something which people often struggle to get their heads around.

12. What is the best thing about working for Housing Options Scotland?

At this stage of my career, the best thing about working for HOS is the development opportunities I’ve been offered. Everyone is so friendly and keen to support me – I’m learning so much from the wealth of experience of my colleagues!

 

If you would like to find out more about Volunteering for Housing Options Scotland, you can contact Ben at Ben@housingoptionsscotland.org.uk

Housing Options Scotland launches a new Volunteering programme for professionals

 

Are you a professional working in the third sector? Looking to volunteer? Housing Options Scotland needs you!

Housing Options Scotland are developing a new and innovative volunteer opportunity. The project – Housing Buddies– will match current Housing Options clients with volunteer professionals who will support them with their housing journey. Whether you are retired and looking for a meaningful volunteering project to be involved with, or just keen to offer your time and skills, we want to hear from you.

Housing Options Scotland Pictured  Margaret Follon ,Edinburgh  Photograph by Martin Shields  Tel 07572 457000 www.martinshields.com © Martin Shields

Volunteer buddies will support clients with their housing journey. Help comes in a whole host of ways – for example, supporting people to fill out housing application forms; helping to bid for social housing; accompanying people to homelessness interviews and property viewings, or anything else to help clients find the right home in the right place.

 
CEO, Moira Bayne said:
“This is a great opportunity for people with expertise in housing or experience working with disabled people, older people or members of the armed forces community to put their skills to practical use by helping our clients when they most need it.

Housing Buddies is a very flexible type of volunteering. You can be involved on a one-off basis or have a longer-term commitment. We can offer opportunities for personal development to fit around your other commitments and it’s a fantastic way to positively impact people’s lives.”

 

Newly appointed Volunteer Coordinator, Ben Parker said:
“I am excited to see the Housing Buddies project get off the ground. We know that there can be lots of barriers for people searching for appropriate housing so to be able to develop a volunteer programme which will support people to overcome those barriers is a real positive.

My role will be to co-ordinate the programme and I’m looking forward to working with lots of different people on the project – from recently retired professionals wanting to dip their toe back in the world of housing, to others who are just keen to volunteer their time and knowledge.”

Volunteers will be paid expenses and offered full training for the role. The level of commitment and involvement required to be a Housing Buddy is highly flexible and volunteer led. Interested? Contact Ben Parker at ben@housingoptionsscotland.org.ukor on 07394566633.

A day in the life of our Customer Communications Manager – Pedro Cameron

Housing Options / 2018 Photograph by Martin Shields  Tel 07572 457000 www.martinshields.com © Martin Shields

It’s time for another  ‘Day in the life’ interview with one of our team here at Housing Options Scotland.

In part 5 of this series, we have been speaking to our Customer Communications Manager, Pedro Cameron. lets see what he has to say:

1.What does a the communications manager for HOS do?

My job positions me as first port of call for all of our clients. I speak to new clients over the phone or by email and give them some initial advice, before encouraging and helping them to refer themselves to our service. I also process all referrals as they come in, to be allocated to our brokers, and also help our brokers to perform their duties.

2. What is your commute like in the morning?

I work afternoons after working for another third sector organisation in the mornings – so I have a nice long walk through Glasgow at lunchtime back to my desk at my home office!

3. What is the first thing you do when you get to your desk? Tell us about your workspace, is it tidy or messy?

I’ll check my to-do list from yesterday, add new tasks to it and then choose some music to work to! I like to keep my desk tidy – “tidy room, tidy mind” as they say!

4. What does agile working mean to you?

It’s great! I have a dog, Angus, who I don’t like to leave alone for long so it’s great to be able to have him with me. I’m also a musician and it means if that takes me elsewhere then I can work easily from wherever I am. As long as there is phone signal and wi-fi then I’m good to go!

5. How do you communicate with your colleagues?

We communicate via whatsapp, chatting on the phone and email. Despite us all working in different places, we communicate with each other very effectively and get to see each other at regular catch ups and team meetings.

6. What do you listen to at your desk? Or do you like silence and why?

I am always listening to music or podcasts or the radio – I can’t go a moment without listening to something, and I find it helps me concentrate.

7. What does a normal day look like for you?

My role is quite wide ranging – but usually I’ll be on the phone for much of the day to all sorts of different people and putting through new referrals. There’s no such thing as a “normal” day at HOS I don’t think!

8. What is your favourite thing to do for lunch when you are working?

As I only work in the afternoons, I’ve usually already taken the dog for a walk and had something to eat before I start.

9. What do you find most interesting about your job?

I love speaking to all different kinds of people and also learning about what is out there for people in terms of housing and support. Every week I seem to find out about a new service or charity out there!

10. Tell us one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?

I’ve moved house 23 times in 30 years – so I know a little bit about moving property!

11. What is the best thing about working for Housing Options Scotland?

I love working for HOS for so many reasons, but the team are amazing to work with, and being able to help people in difficult situations makes it all worthwhile!