Housing and energy: Wall of Success

Leith by Captain Oates CC by 2.0

‘If you are homeless there is no such thing as social mobility’ Josh Littlejohn

We lay the foundations of the ‘Wall of Success’ by reporting local achievements and aspirations in housing and energy. Meet Port of Leith Housing Association and Home Energy Scotland. But first, let’s set the scene with inspiration from an ambitious social enterprise.

In his keynote speech to The Gathering in December 2016, Josh Littlejohn, entrepreneurial co-founder of Social Bite, explained his plans for a ‘homeless village’ in Granton, providing not just shelter but hope and dignity for the people who live there.

The link between housing, health, work and wellbeing was made in different ways by different speakers at the event organised by Side by Side Edinburgh Northern and Leith. Housing was one of the four key issues up for discussion – along with childcare, social care and the environment – and it proved to be one of the most popular workshops of the morning.

Laying the foundations

Here – laying the foundation of a digital Wall of Success – we publish the first of the stories which appeared on the Wall of Success display at Norton Park.  These are the recent achievements of two organisations working to provide affordable housing and energy in North Edinburgh:  Port of Leith Housing Association (POLHA) and Home Energy Scotland.

Like the other organisations they completed a Side by Side form asking for three recent successes and three future priorities. So many priorities are shared by other organisations working in different parts of our neighbourhood – often just a street or two away.

Aims and achievements of local organisations often overlap too and many good connections were made at The Gathering. By providing a record of their stories here we hope we can play a small part in helping organisations with common interests to connect, collaborate and grow.

‘Take politics and profit out of housing’ was one of the top action points voted on by the first community manifesto Open Space event a year ago. At The Gathering there were no politics in the speech made by POLHA’s Keith Anderson who began by acknowledging the difficulty of defining ‘affordable housing’.

But he described POLHA’s pride in providing good quality housing with an understanding that good community planning requires much more than well-built housing. That is why POLHA also supports young people into work and training through the TOIL programme, and takes an interest in what happens in the spaces between and around the houses.

Note the overlapping priorities and interests of Home Energy Scotland, working in GP practices and community centres as well as draughty old Victorian houses and tenements. Affordable heat  and light are part of health and wellbeing for all communities.

Port of Leith Housing Association

Port of Leith Housing Association1: More new affordable homes – adding to 2,700 homescurrently provided by building more with plans to develop another 500 new homes for both social and mid market rent over the next few years in Leith Fort, Baileyfield, Brunswick Road, Shrubhill, Abbey Lane, Constitution Street, Granton Harbour and John’s Place.

2: Supporting young people with no/few qualifications into further education, training and modern apprenticeships through a TOiL programme, having supported nearly 600 young people through this over the past 10 years and achieved a 65% successful “positive destination” level last year

3: Established a new social enterprise – Quay Community Improvements provides services supporting a “clean and green” community, starting with a new stair cleaning service and developing plans for new environmental maintenance services and with the ambition and potential to undertake other activity to improve the overall wellbeing of the community.

Three priorities for future collaboration

1: How to encourage everyone to keep our streets, open spaces and parks clean and well maintained at all times.

2: How to support people feeling connected and not isolated within their communities, including vulnerable and older people.

3:Working with single (male) households, aged 30-45 years old, supporting them (back) into the workplace.

Home Energy Scotland

hes-logo-eventbrite-logo-snip1: Restoring warmth to your historical home events – partnership with Changeworks, City of Edinburgh Council,
Historic Environment Scotland and Green Homes Network.   The events are designed to support people living in historical homes with advice and guidance on ways to reduce heat loss from their Victorian and Georgian properties

2: Supporting GP practices during flu inoculation clinics – an energy advisor is based in practices to provide advice to patients on ways to stay warm over winter and save money on their energy bills

3: Working with West Pilton Community Centre – delivering talks on Home Energy Scotland and ways to save energy to families, pregnant parents and elderly

Priorities for future collaboration 

1: Supporting local young families/parents groups with energy efficiency workshops on ways to reduce their energy bills

2: Working with local mental health support organisations to support users to access HES services including Scottish government funding and grants

3: Developing work with NHS and other health related organisations (including local health centres, community pharmacies

Featured image Leith rooftops: Captain Oates Creative Commons licence CC By 2.0

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