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Reducing social isolation with Linstone 20/20

Challenge Poverty Week blog by Debs Allan, Project Co-ordinator, Linstone 20/20

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Linstone 20/20 is a European Social Funded initiative managed by Linstone Housing that aims to reduce social isolation and build upon community assets by facilitating local access to services and increased community engagement through provision of welcoming hubs that can be used by local people and like-minded organisations.

The most recent Social Index of Multiple Deprivation data (SIMD), at the time of project conception, indicated that Linstone had significant coverage and influence in nine of the most deprived data zones in Renfrewshire. Over 30% of our tenants and residents live in the most deprived decile and 66% in the most deprived quartile of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2016 ranking.

Housing generally performs well, but the areas were being let down by poor performance in the income, poverty, education, health and employment indices, highlighting that good quality affordable housing alone is not enough to improve the communities people live in.

Demand for the project also came from anecdotal evidence from local community groups and individuals, who reported that many residents of the Linwood and Johnstone areas of Renfrewshire had disengaged from services due to apathy and negative experiences. There was a real sense that decisions made about them and their communities were being done ‘to’ them rather than ‘with’ them.

Linstone 20/20 acts as a broker and facilitator, linking People and Places in order to create opportunities. We have a team of four community engagers, a community engagement worker and a project co-ordinator. Linstone committed to the long-term availability of three Community Hubs, based at the heart of our communities, and by working in partnership, we can resource and support a variety of activities that are identified as important by the communities we are working with. These include:

  • Village Garden – a redundant, disused caged area which is being turned into a public garden area through working with a group of active community members and the local school
  • Tenants and Residents Associations – we support four existing groups, and have supported the constitution of new residents’ groups
  • Creative industries (ICT, art, games) – we support a range of clubs
  • SPACE – a young person-led co-design project, seeking to create a youth space in Linwood
  • Stay and Play session school holiday provision – tackling holiday hunger and providing access to library services in the locality
  • garden parties and community events – community-led, free events
  • employability services – local partners Fair Start, Invest in Renfrewshire and WEvolution use our Community Hubs
  • Welfare rights provision
  • digital youth activities, in partnership with YMCA
  • ESOL – in partnership with Pachedu, an organisation supporting emerging and minority ethnic communities
  • intergenerational – we forge links with school, nurseries and services for older people to try to bridge the generational gap
  • Car Club – we provide access to transport with – two electric and one hybrid – cars available to borrow.

Key to sustainability is that we deliver as little as possible ourselves, instead seeking solutions through existing groups and local partnership provision that will remain present past the end of the project. 

We have identified and developed key local individuals who can drive forward activities and have supported them to forge links with local service providers to ensure that sessions continue and flourish. 

The relevance and diversity of the work that the programme is delivering has meant that we have managed to command considerable additional funding, directed into local projects for specific pieces of work that have been devised and nurtured by local people with support of the Linstone 20/20 team. 

We hope to leave a legacy of vibrant and engaged local communities who have the ability and confidence to access a range of services in their locality.