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Pioneering new tenant support service helps 1,500 people feel at home

My Great Start provides help to vulnerable tenants so they feel comfortable and settled in their home from the day they move in.

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A pioneering service run by Wheatley Group to support new tenants make the most of their new home has helped more than 1,500 people in the past year.

My Great Start is an early intervention programme which provides help to vulnerable tenants so they feel comfortable and settled in their home from the day they move in.

My Great Start advisors support people with everything from benefits advice and budgeting skills to help getting online, accessing health care and integrating into their community.

The project was piloted by GHA, part of Wheatley Group, in 2015 and is now one of a range of support services offered to tenants of all housing associations in Wheatley including: Cube, Loretto Housing, West Lothian Housing Partnership, Barony and Dunedin Canmore.

Scottish Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman visited the service, which is funded through the Wheatley Foundation, Wheatley’s charitable trust, and a £30,000 Scottish Government grant.

She met with Wheatley Foundation Chair Sir Harry Burns and staff and tenants involved in My Great Start at GHA’s Knightswood office.

Sir Harry said:

“My Great Start is an invaluable service which is helping vulnerable tenants avoid the nightmare of losing their tenancy. It is a proven, high-quality service that helps people when they get a new home to keep their new home. The advisors do a great job helping tenants organise their finances, improve their confidence and social skills and establish a network in their local community.”

Minister for Social Security Jeane Freeman said:

“It is vital that those on low incomes can access timely and high quality support and advice, which is why services like My Great Start are to be welcomed. We want to make sure as many people as possible have a warm, safe home and I’m pleased that organisations such as the Wheatley Group are helping people to manage their finances. The Scottish Government is committed to delivering a financial health check for families on low incomes in 2018, making sure that those that need it the most have access to all the help available.

“The Scottish Government is also offering people more choice in how they manage their household budget by making Universal Credit payments more flexible and adaptable. People will have the option to be paid monthly, twice monthly and have the housing costs in their award of Universal Credit paid direct to their landlord. ”

The Wheatley Foundation invests more than £3 million a year in a range of social and economic programmes across Scotland supporting over 7,000 Wheatley customers and focusing on poverty, employability, education, digital inclusion, and sports and the arts.

Paul Cartwright, 43, from Glasgow used the My Great Start service when he moved into his first tenancy after leaving supported accommodation.

His My Great Start advisor, Gemma Watson, helped him get in control of his finances, including help with his benefits, what bills he needed to pay and managing a budget. He was also given help furnishing his home with a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Gemma also helped Paul become part of his community, finding him activities he could get involved with to meet other people and stop him from drinking.

Paul said:

“The service was brilliant. Gemma, my advisor, came out to see me and helped me with my flat. She really helped me get my flat in order. She was brilliant – she talked to me about what kind of support I could get – it was absolutely amazing.

“It’s my first place of my own and Gemma has really helped me make a go of it. I can’t thank her enough.”

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