Comhairle agrees grants for two Western Isles housing agencies

Grants totalling £69k have been approved by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Communities and Housing Committee for two local partner organisations who ‘assist’ the authority in the delivery of its services and in meeting the objectives of the Local Housing Strategy (LHS).

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 8:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 8:32 am
The council agreed to the funding.

The committee has now agreed the continuation of grants for Western Isles Foyer, which will receive £30k, and The Energy Advisory Service, which is delivered by Tighean Innse Gall, which will receive £39k.

A report before councillors on the continuation of the grants states that the performance of the agencies is monitored on a regular basis and both ‘have demonstrated satisfactory performance during 20/21’.

Assessment of performance by the agencies was described in the report as ‘positive”, with both agencies ‘making an important contribution to Comhairle LHS priorities'.

The Foyer will receive support

The Foyer works with young people aged 16 -26 who are homeless, in housing need or are subject to other significant social disadvantages.

The report states that the agreement between Western Isles Foyer and the Comhairle was established in order to assist in meeting the support needs of young people in the Western Isles who are either threatened with homelessness or actually homeless.

Foyer staff provide young people with support to develop their independent living skills and provides a drop-in centre on Stornoway's Bayhead Street for young people to access support and advice on an informal basis.

It also provides IT/internet facilities for young people, and, the report states, gives the opportunity for young people who are 'socially isolated' to socialise 'in a safe and supportive environment and access food and soft drinks'. During the year more than 50 young people used the service, the report confirms.

The Foyer also provided tenancy support for 10 young people in Hebridean Housing Partnership properties.

The funding for the grant to the Foyer comes from Additional Council Tax Income from Second Homes (ACTISH) funds.

In October last year, Western Isles Foyer faced closure as grants from Point and Sandwick Trust (P&ST) were not paid after P&ST lost its income due to the failure of the interconnector cable between Skye and the Isle of Harris.

But in November the Foyer was saved following receipt of a grant for £50k from an Emergency Fund for local community organisaitons set up by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and cable owner SSEN.

The Foyer also raised more than £5k from a crowdfunding appeal.

The Comhairle’s main external partner in the provision of energy advice is The Energy Advisory Service (TEAS), the report confirms. TEAS is delivered by Tighean Innse Gall (TIG), the local Housing Agency.

TEAS provides an energy advice service to the local community, along with training to individuals and community groups, with a view to improving the awareness of energy efficiency matters.

The Comhairle has supported TEAS with grant funding since it was established in 1994.

In 2020/21 to date TEAS has managed to lever in £224k of funding to the islands from a range of organisations, the report states.