The shared ethos between social enterprise and social housing

Posted: 18 October 2021, in Blog

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Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives have a clear social purpose: as not-just-for-profit businesses, they provide affordable homes and give priority to those in greatest need. Any surpluses are reinvested into existing stock, community regeneration, and tenant support. 

With these core functions, it’s, perhaps, unsurprising that many social landlords do, in fact, identify as social enterprises. With both sectors working to build a fairer society, there is a shared social ethos between the two.

Housing associations and co-operatives have a longstanding history of supporting their local communities, with their work going far beyond ‘just’ providing housing. This can include providing financial and welfare advice, employability services and training courses, community gardening projects, healthy eating and cooking classes, holiday clubs for children, and social events.

Many social landlords also work with, and support, other organisations that are working in their local communities to help protect the most vulnerable. For example, in April, Cunninghame Housing Association made a donation to the Inspire Motivate Celebrate project in Saltcoats to support its Community Fridge. The Community Fridge was initially set up with the aim of helping those most in need during lockdown, ensuring that nobody went without food during such challenging times. 

Earlier this year, Queens Cross Housing Association joined in partnership with mental health charity Flourish House to open ‘The Courtyard Pantry’ to give access to fresh, good quality food at a reduced price. The food outlet enables locals in the community to become members for £1 and spend £2.50 in return for food and household goods worth £10 to £15 per visit.

Link Group recently helped 476 low-income and digitally excluded households, from across Central Scotland, to get online during the pandemic via the Connecting Scotland initiative, which is managed by SCVO. The scheme supports households to get online through the provision of devices such as iPads and Chromebooks.

Link Group and its partner organisations also provided housing officers and support workers with digital champion training, so they could assist those who needed extra help to get connected and feel comfortable using their devices.

The above examples are just some of the many ways in which social landlords’ work positively benefits their tenants and local communities. As with social enterprises across Scotland, it is this social purpose and ethos of putting people and communities first that is the driving force behind what they do. 

Debs Allan, Innovation and Future Thinking Manager, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)