Glen Housing gardening
There is a place where affordable housing and social rent means a close knit community, clean parks and where children are being taught to look after their environment. Up in Glenrothes, Scotland, Glen Housing Association runs their housing estates in a different way.
“It’s not only about bricks and mortar but very much about the people living in our houses.”
Anne Dickie, director, Glen Housing Association
“We very much take an holistic approach to managing our estates. It’s not only about bricks and mortar but very much about the people living in our houses”, says director Anne Dickie.
Vandalism and graffiti are often hard nuts to crack in affordable rent estates. But Glen housing has come up with an innovative solution to prevent youngsters from damaging their local environment, resulting in premises almost free from vandalism.
Glen Housing Association works with young people and children to reduce levels of vandalism and antisocial behaviour and inclusion is their buzz word. By using activities such as arts, sports, excursions, play training and gardening they promote positive play and develop young people’s social skills, confidence and a sense of pride and ownership of the place they live.
Glen housing also encourages children living in their neighbourhood to assist in the maintenance of the gardens and community spaces and wild life gardener Elspeth Killin is employed by Glen housing to maintain a wildlife and sensory garden to engage children from a very young age.
“These garden projects are hugely beneficial to our local children. They really recognise these spaces as their own work.”
Elspeth Killin, wildlife gardener, Glen Housing
Wildlife gardener Elspeth Killin comments: “We have litter picking days and I teach different generations about plants and herbs. We also support growing old Scottish wildflowers like evening primrose. I feel that these garden projects are hugely beneficial to our local children. They really recognise these spaces as their own work.”
The holistic approach of Glen housing is also articulated in the collaboration with the local primary school Collydean Primary. Head teacher Mrs Rhona Leishman says: “It takes a whole community to raise a child and the community garden projects are doing just that by bringing people together.”
Working with tenants
Glen housing not only looks after their tenants when things look up, but also in times of difficulty. Glen uses personal contact in helping its tenants manage their rent arrears. Rather then sending letters through the post, the association uses home visits, telephone calls and office interviews as their main way to work with tenants in managing their payments. On average five out of six contacts the Association has with its tenants makes use of one of these methods.
It’s been twenty years since Glen Housing was founded and looking back Josie Smith, board member of Glen Housing and former chair comments: “When I first got involved with Glen I was a single mum. The opportunities that then came through the association to attend workshops and courses were fantastic for me. It gave me such a boost to know that I could learn and grow as a person. I now have a great job – I went to college and then university and got a degree. I want to inspire people who say, ‘I can’t make something of myself’. Glen opens up opportunities for people. The benefits cultures feels like a comfort zone, but believe me you’re better of out of it. I want to shout that out to people who are like I was – sitting still and getting miserable.”
words: Faye Holst
Triodos Bank finances more than 150 community focussed housing associations and other social housing projects across the UK. Find out more about them here.
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