Wheatley Group provides first 100 homes to councils for homeless accommodation



Wheatley Group has provided more than 100 empty homes to local authorities as temporary accommodation for homeless people.

Housing First tenant William Smith and Olga Clayton, Wheatley ‘s director of housing and care, help mark Wheatley handing over its 100 homes to Housing First earlier this year

The group announced last month that it plans to hand over void properties to councils across Scotland to house homeless people in response to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

In the following week, 81 empty homes were allocated to Glasgow City Council and 26 to Dumfries and Galloway Council. Another nine will be made available to the City of Edinburgh Council this week.

Martin Armstrong, Wheatley chief executive, said more properties would be handed soon to West Dunbartonshire Council and West Lothian Council.

He added: “We are doing all we can to work with our local authority partners to help the most vulnerable people in society during these unprecedented times.”

Wheatley, meanwhile, has introduced a wide range of measures to tackle the impact of coronavirus on the people and families who live in the 93,000 homes it owns and manages, as well as the 7000 people a year it works for in care and its 2500 staff.  

Wheatley’s six Registered Social Landlords – GHA, Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership, Dunedin Canmore, Cube, West Lothian Housing Partnership and Barony – are able to offer only a restricted range of services during the current crisis.

However, the group’s 500 housing staff across Scotland are fully set up to work from home and are supporting and staying in close contact with their tenants, particularly the elderly and more vulnerable customers, by phone, text and online.

Wheatley customers are being supported also by Neighbourhood Environmental Teams (NETs), who are continuing to provide essential services, ranging from fire-safety patrols to multi-storey block cleaning in Glasgow and bulk uplifts.

The group’s IT staff worked around the clock to set up a 24/7 virtual call centre after equipping all telephone advisors, normally located in centres in Glasgow and Dumfries, to carry on working – from home.

Mr Armstrong added: “Like all other parts of the Group, our fantastic I.T. staff have pulled out all the stops to ensure our customers continue to receive the best services possible.”

The chief executive also paid tribute to the group’s hundreds of NETs staff, repairs teams and certain care staff, who have been issued with Personal Protection Equipment and rigorous health and safety guidance, to enable them to continue providing emergency and essential services.

He continued: “They are a credit to Wheatley and the communities they serve across Scotland, as are all of their housing, care, property management and business support colleagues, who are doing an incredible job in the most difficult of circumstances.”

The homes are part of Wheatley’s continued commitment to tackling homelessness.

In February, Wheatley handed over 100 homes to Housing First, a scheme which was set up a year ago to help tackle rough sleeping.

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