A new partnership project, Connect4Renfrewshire is making an impact on how welfare rights and support services are delivered in the area.

Four local housing associations are involved in the project along with Renfrewshire Council and a number of other agencies.

Funded by Big Lottery, the project is a direct response to Welfare Reform, and the challenges that it presents to people living in social housing by providing more co-ordinated support, Connect4Renfrewshire seeks to help residents that are experiencing financial hardship and those that have been identified as at risk.

Now, with the project up and running, the feedback is clear – local people are benefiting from the more joined up approach to providing welfare rights services and enjoying the difference.

The four local housing associations involved in the project are Linstone, Bridgewater, Paisley South and Williamsburgh. In addition to Renfrewshire Council, other agencies that are directly involved are RAMH (Recovery Across Mental Health), Renfrewshire Wide Credit Union and RAMH Lifeskills Furniture Re-use.

Since December 2013 the project has already supported over 450 Housing households, helping them to save money.

Support available includes

  • Energy efficiency advice to assist resident in tackling the effects of fuel poverty
  • Financial skills training and potential access to a budgeting account with the local credit union including access to savings accounts, affordable loans, discounted energy efficient white goods
  • Advice and advocacy on all aspects of welfare rights to identified residents
  • Financial literacy support for those with mental health challenges
  • Access to recycled furniture and household goods

Here’s what some residents said who have been helped by the project:

“The workers that have been in have been friendly and able to come at times that suited us. We have never been in debt (with utilities) and it’s very stressful which makes our health worse. It has made a big difference having the right people in to help us sort the mess out.”

“I am very glad to have found out about the services available as I was getting extremely frustrated… once I started to deal with you a great sense of relief appeared and thing started to progress well and trouble free.” For this resident Connect4Renfrewshire were able to apply for funding to pay off his fuel bill debt, help him set up appropriate payment for fuel bill debt, help him set up appropriate payment plans for gas and electricity and make him aware of the Warm Home Discount for winter usage.

“I’ve lived here for 42 years, but don’t get out much now because of my health. I look forward to my visits from Connect4Renfrewshire and I know that they have really made a difference. I’ve had help getting onto the right fuel rate and with budgeting my money and paying my bills.