Here we highlight the work of two housing associations that have been fulfilling a community anchor role for many years.
West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative
West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative (WWHC) is a fully mutual housing co-operative with charitable status. All of its tenants are members of the co-operative, which has 644 properties under management, located in Whitlawburn in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire.
The Whitlawburn Community Resource Centre (WCRC) was established by WWHC in 1996 in response to the lack of community facilities in the local area, and has a long-term commitment to supporting and working with the community it serves.
The Centre is run by a voluntary committee of local people and provides community-owned and controlled facilities and services to address the inequalities and exclusion affecting people in the area.
It is a community facility providing a whole range of services which reflect the things that are important to local people and the community. This includes a financial inclusion project, digital drop-in, household recycling project, food co-operative and youth project. Other activities include parent groups, art classes, computer classes, food bank, exercise classes, dance classes and sports clubs. The Centre also provides a community café, out-of-school care project and family project.
Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association
Rutherglen Housing Association was established in 1980 primarily to improve the 600 plus below tolerable standard houses in the Rutherglen area. In 1996 it extended its area of operation to improving and managing stock in Cambuslang, and changed its name to Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association. The association has invested almost £45 million in improving and building homes over the last 25 years.
The Aspire Community Development Company is a subsidiary of Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association. The association set up the company in 1999 as a vehicle for its community anchor activities. Its first project was the development of the Aspire Business Centre in Rutherglen, which now employs 250 people. More recently, it has completed the Caledonian Centre in Cambuslang, which as well as providing a nursery facility also contains training rooms, a large hall and community café.
These are examples of housing organisations recognising that social isolation and loneliness are an issue for their tenants and a feature in their poor health outcomes, and doing something about it.