Today's Scottish news (March 7)
- Kingdom continues to invest in its people
- New Scottish Government funding to support heat generation
- BHA ranked 15th in UK’s top 100 not-for-profit companies
- New homes in Cumbernauld help plug gaps in social hub
- ng homes supports students from Malawi
- Politicians may have ‘underestimated’ impact of bedroom tax
- Demand for foodbanks 'inextricably linked' to welfare reforms, MSPs told
- Partick Housing Association is making connections
Friday 07 March 2014
Kingdom continues to invest in its people
Investment in continuous learning and development is essential for staff working in the Support and Care section to enable sustained delivery of quality needs lead support.
The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), the Regulatory Body for social services workforce are preparing for the registration of supervisors working in housing support in June 2014 and for workers in the autumn 2017.
Kingdom Housing Association is well on course to meet these timescales with 73% of staff already qualified and 18.5% currently working towards a qualification which meets the registration criteria.
Having already achieved the SVQIII in Health and Social Care, Senior Support Worker grade staff required a “supervisory” qualification to enable their registration.
Kingdom successfully secured a training grant from the Scottish Government in December 2013 and the first group of Senior Support Workers started the course with Care Now Training in January 2014.
Describing her experience, Margaret, a Senior in Kingdom's Rosyth service. said “Now that I have completed my PDA, I feel a sense of achievement. It has certainly made me more aware of the importance of supervision and the knowledge I have gained will help me in my practice and role of supervisor”.
To date, 15 seniors have successfully completed the award. To mark their success, a presentation lunch was held in our Glenrothes office where Bill Banks, Chief Executive presented successful candidates with certificates in recognition of their achievements.
Bill said: “I’d like to congratulate all the seniors who have achieved the Award, it not only demonstrates the commitment that Kingdom has to investing in the professional development of staff, but it highlights the efforts that staff make to investing their time in completing the course. Well done to all involved.”
Area Managers Shona Laird and Frances Howie expressed their delight in this level of accomplishment.
Shona said: “The Personal Development Award in Supervision provides an excellent foundation for high level supervision for support staff, which in turn makes sure staff feel supported and valued.”
Norah Smith, Director of Housing and Care, added: “I am delighted that we are on track to meet our SSSC Registration requirements which is so important for the future of the Service. I am even more delighted that the Seniors involved have been committed to this opportunity and have achieved their award, despite the difficult times we have faced in the past year. Thank you to all who have participated and who will go on to contribute to the provision of quality services.”
Plans are in place for the remaining Seniors to complete this award in the coming year.
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New Scottish Government funding to support heat generation
An additional £4 million announced by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing takes the funding for the next two years to £10.5 million which will support the development of district heating networks in Scotland.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has welcomed the additional funding.
Heat sources in use for various district heating systems can include: geothermal heat and solar heat.
This money will reduce pressure on household energy bills and maximising the economic opportunities to the industry through infrastructure developments.
Mr Ewing said: “We are committed in helping support households across Scotland that are affected by increasing energy bills and today’s announcement moves that one step forward in driving down costs to consumers.
“Scotland is an energy rich nation where heat accounts for over half of all energy we use, with an estimated £2.6 billion a year being spent on heating and cooling in Scotland.
“We have set a target of 40,000 homes to be supplied with affordable warmth and low carbon heat through district heating by 2020. A heat system driven by the need for affordable warmth for our households and resilient heat supply, with a competitive business and industry base, which addresses climate change, and offers the potential for the low carbon economic opportunities supporting sustainable economic growth.”
Welcoming the announcement, SFHA policy manager David Stewart (pictured) said: “While housing associations and co-operatives provide the most energy efficient housing by tenure in Scotland, fuel poverty remains a very serious issue for social landlords and their tenants. District heating has an important role to play in cutting energy bills and in reducing carbon emissions by providing a more affordable and efficient way to distribute heat.
“While a number of schemes have been developed by housing associations, including Cube and West Highland, with more in the pipeline, district heating is a relatively new and unusual technology in Scotland.
“Social landlords need support if they are to play a part in the roll-out of district heating across Scotland, and we therefore welcome the additional funding that has been announced by the Scottish Government.
“Social landlords have the technical and financial skills and the groupings of homes required to develop district heating schemes, but it is vitally important that they are supported in order to meet the high capital costs which are involved in the development of the schemes.”
Mike Thornton, chair of the Expert Commission on District Heating and head of Energy Saving Trust in Scotland, added: “The Expert Commission welcomes the publication of the HGPS, particularly the proposals for clear targets for district heating ; such targets will help drive the step-change in the use of district heating which is needed to cut fuel bills and carbon emissions.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government to support district heating in Scotland.”
BHA ranked 15th in UK’s top 100 not-for-profit companies
Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) has been listed in the UK’s top 15 not-for-profit companies to work for at a prestigious national award ceremony in London, jumping 37 places up the rankings in one year and receiving special recognition for its efforts to give back to the community.
The Sunday Times Top 100 has become one of the most eagerly awaited listings in the corporate world and for BHA which finished in 52nd place in 2013 this year’s announcement places it as one of the very best in Britain.
Best Companies also awarded BHA a 3 star rating which ranks it as an ‘Extraordinary Organisation’ and lists it in 4th place among all small businesses for its ‘Fair Deal’ for staff.
Tracy Roxburgh, executive assistant, said: “Reaching 15th in a highly competitive field is a brilliant achievement for us.
“I was proud and honoured to attend the Awards in London and celebrate our achievement.
“That we scored so highly in categories such as giving something back to the community, leadership and personal growth demonstrates what BHA is all about and what makes it such a great place to work”.
BHA was also runner up in the ‘Giving Something Back’ category and that, according to Julia Graham, Housing Services Team Leader, is something the organisation takes special pride in.
She said: “We have high ambition for the Borders and for our people and we recognise and reward those who go the extra mile for our customers.
“We also combine fun with hard work and learning. Each year we take part in lots of activities to raise money for local and national charities, helping us stay positive, focus on solutions and support each other’s efforts.”
Jean Gray, Customer Services Director, believes this award will help BHA’s efforts to boost the local economy.
She said: “We have a growing reputation for being ambitious, bold and imaginative in what we do and this award will give us an extra spring in our step as we continue to create thriving communities in the Borders.
“On the way are a community wind farm to power up to 4000 homes and generate community revenue, imaginative new homes in Duns and Eyemouth and a shared effort to revitalise the fortunes of both towns and villages in Berwickshire. “
“Our Next Steps programme helps young people make that vital transition from school into adult life while our financial experts boost local income for tenants and their families to mitigate the current economic challenges (last year alone we increased income by £372,220 in unclaimed benefit). “
“We boost local business by buying local and helping SMEs secure licences to supply national products and services. We grow ever closer to our customers with regular neighbourhood walkabouts and readily respond to local ideas on how to improve local life and outlook. We work closely with tenants who face challenges beyond them to support them to regain control of their life and we reward local voluntary effort through our Community Awards fund.”
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New homes in Cumbernauld help plug gaps in social hub
Rain no longer stops play at Cumbernauld’s YMCA-YWCA after Sanctuary instructed GRAHAM Construction to repair the roof.
The community benefit investment was sparked by Sanctuary’s £5.8 million project to build 58 affordable homes in Kildrum.
Four leaks were fixed, making the entire building fully usable for the first time in years. The YMCA-YWCA had been unable to secure funding for the work before Sanctuary came to the rescue.
The Cumbernauld YMCA-YWCA was the first community-based organisation to be established in the new town in November 1960.
Eleanor Campbell, chief executive officer of Cumbernauld YMCA-YWCA, said: “We thank Sanctuary and GRAHAM for making the complex watertight.
“For the past couple of years we’ve been frustrated by wet weather affecting areas inside the building, effectively restricting what we were able to offer.
“We look forward to organising more activities and events for residents across Cumbernauld.”
The last of Sanctuary’s new Ainslie Road and Maclehose Road properties were handed over in December.
Roddy Macdonald, Sanctuary Scotland’s head of development, said: “We are happy to have helped the YMCA-YWCA resolve an issue that has affected the building for years.
“Rain’s common in Cumbernauld, so it’s good that Eleanor and her team no longer have to hope the weather stays dry.
“This is yet another example of a Sanctuary development offering a community benefit over and above high quality, affordable housing. Other groups will benefit as our other Cumbernauld projects proceed.”
The 58 new Kildrum homes are the latest in a substantial development programme by Sanctuary in Cumbernauld.
Recently completed projects include 73 houses in Beechwood Court, Carbrain, and 31 flats in Fleming Road, Seafar.
The 96 flats currently being built on the former Seafar House site mark the start of Sanctuary’s regeneration of the town’s tower blocks.
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ng homes supports students from Malawi
Grace Sukasuka and Sabron Kalyolyo, pictured with ng homes concierge Billy Aird (centre), have been provided with accommodation while they attend Glasgow Caledonian University.
Both are aged 36 and have left behind their families to study in Glasgow.
The move followed the signing with the High Commissioner of Malawi last August of a unique agreement to support scholarships.
It is the first time that a university and UK housing association have teamed up to offer assistance to Malawi's students.
It is being organised through the GCU's School of Engineering and Built Environment which has worked on a series of projects including asset management, agriculture research, environmental and waste management in Malawi.
Grace graduated with a Batchelor of Science degree from University of Malawi in 2006. She was an assistant lecturer at the same university before being accepted for a Masters in Quantity Surveying and started her course in January.
At home is her husband Loimbikani and their two children, 11-year-old daughter Akonda and six-year old son Tithokoze.
Grace said: “I've visited Zambia, South Africa and Kenya but only for a few days before going back home so being in Scotland is very different for me. I do miss my family but thanks to Skype, I can still be in regular contact.”
Her course is very challenging and academic writing is different from back home.
She added: “Glasgow is a very big city and very different. I have never seen snow before and I do find it very cold. When I told my husband that I was living on the eighteenth floor he just could not believe it.”
Flatmate Sabron was a classmate of Grace's when they were at university in Malawi. He also has a BSc degree from the University of Malawi and is now studying for his Masters in International Project Management.
Sabron's wife back home in Malawi is also called Grace and they have three children, sons Khama, 10 and seven-month-old Benjamin, and five-year-old daughter Atupele.
Sabron was born in South Africa and spent time as a youngster in America. He has worked in the construction and engineering industry but most of his time so far in Scotland has been in the Caledonian University library.
He said: “It is great to have the opportunity to study for a Masters but especially at GCU which is held in such high regard.”
Robert Tamburrini, CEO of ng homes, added: “When Glasgow Caledonian University asked if we and our partners would support their scholarships we were happy to help by providing accommodation close to GCU. I am sure they will find it a great place to live and learn.”
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Politicians may have ‘underestimated’ impact of bedroom tax
Fife Council leader David Ross has announced his intention to write to Finance Secretary John Swinney to warn him that the Scottish Government and UK Government may have underestimated the impact of the so-called bedroom tax on Fife.
Mr Ross said Fife Council had already received and spent crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
But he warned Fife was one of two councils in Scotland that had used discretionary housing payments from government.
This was representative of the demand for support in Fife and the work of council officers.
He warned that while welcome, the hardship payments were not retrospective and already more people were getting into rent arrears.
He said it was inevitable the council would have further pressures to deal with.
Mr Ross said: “I’ll be writing to John Swinney to say that if we get our share based on our population, then that underestimates the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on Fife tenants. We will be arguing for a greater share.”
The issue arose at this week’s Fife Council executive committee in Glenrothes, as councillors reviewed the use of the welfare reform budget and considered future arrangements.
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Demand for foodbanks 'inextricably linked' to welfare reforms, MSPs told
The Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee has heard how thousands more people have turned to voluntary organisations for emergency food parcels, following changes to the benefits system.
The committee heard how thousands more people have turned to voluntary organisations for emergency food parcels, following changes to the benefits system which were introduced by the UK Government in April 2013.
Those who rely on foodbanks often walk for miles as they cannot afford to pay for transport, and many are given items that can be eaten cold because they are unable to pay for electricity in order to cook, the committee was told.
The services are also being used by people who are employed on low incomes, and who are struggling with the rising cost of living, the charities said.
The Trussell Trust has reported its foodbanks helped more than 56,000 people between April last year and February 24. The total for the previous 12 months was 14,318 - including about 4,000 children.
Ewan Gurr, Scotland development officer, said: "That is an exponential rise in the demand for emergency food relief.
"It is indisputable that people are under more pressure than they ever have been, and obviously we are not seeing benefits keep pace with the rise in living costs.
"The evidence that we are seeing every day right across our foodbank network is that welfare reforms are inextricably linked to the rising demand for emergency food relief."
Denis Curran, chairman of Loaves and Fishes, a Glasgow-based charity which provides food parcels, agreed people were "walking three or four miles with children" to attend foodbanks.
SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said she had met someone who walked around 12 miles from Ballingry to Dunfermline to access a service.
"I think the issue of transport is hugely important because many of these facilities are not going to be on the high street," she said.
Mr Curran also highlighted misconceptions about why people are using foodbanks.
"There seems to be a fallacy out there that it is misused, and that it's greed," he said.
"It is easier to say they are thieves, liars, cheats and layabouts - that they misuse the benefits system.
"What is the real figure of the people who have committed suicide through benefit cuts? People come to us and they are terrified.
"Powers that be - it is time you woke up to reality. We don't need meetings to decide if benefit cuts have got something to do with a rise in foodbanks.
"The situation is people are being penalised for being poor."
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Partick Housing Association is making connections
Partick Housing Association is sponsoring local school pupils’ sportswear as part of its commitment to maintaining close links with the community
The local schools, Thornwood Primary, Notre Dame Primary, Hyndland Primary and Middlefield Residential School, were approached to ask if they’d be interested in having a sponsor for the pupils’ sportswear.
All were pleased to accept the offer and even suggested a football tournament to show off their new strips.
The competition between the 3 Primary schools took place at Thornwood Primary sports pitch. PHA provided medals for all 30 participants and a challenge trophy.
The event was a great success with all the boys and girls eager to get involved and delighted to receive their medal at the end.
The PHA Challenge Trophy competition will be an annual event and will involve different sports in the future.
Schools are at the heart of the neighbourhood, bringing vibrancy and energy to Partick, according to PHA CEO Lynn Wassell.
She said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to support our local schools and look forward to building on our relationship in the coming months and years through a variety of activities.”
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