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Thriving Communities

Women In Pantry Edinburgh

In his latest blog, our managing director in Scotland, Tom Norris, shares some interesting findings from polling recently carried out by Places for People Scotland and reflects on what this tells us about the role of communities in responding to major challenges like the cost of living crisis. 

I see the difference a home can make to people and communities every single day. From a family leaving temporary housing and homelessness behind to find the safety of home when they shut the front door, to children having the space and quiet to do their homework, home is the place from which opportunities are created and grasped.  

Scotland’s housing sector is full of passionate professionals, who understand the value of sustainable, quality homes within cohesive communities, beyond the bricks and mortar involved. As our research shows, the majority of people also understand the importance of housing, along with a range of other factors, in creating strong, resilient communities. 

At a time when people and families are facing huge financial challenges, thriving local communities have an important role to play in supporting people through this difficult period. 

The evidence 

We recently commissioned a national poll to find out what people in communities care about. Whilst people were clear on their priorities and what communities need to thrive, only 13% believe that their community is well equipped to manage the current cost of living crisis. 

This ought to be a wakeup call for policy makers and those in the housing sector. As we saw during the pandemic, when communities come together to support one another, they can play their role in weathering the harshest of storms. With the right support mechanisms and targeted interventions, our communities can be better equipped to face these difficult times. 

Which brings us back to housing as a crucial part of this jigsaw. Our survey found that 89% of people believe that housing plays a vital or important role in creating a thriving community, which backs our calls for further investment in social and affordable homes, and further support for those committed to building them in the places they are needed most. 

Resilient communities which support people to thrive 

Our polling shows that people don’t believe there is a silver bullet to creating a thriving community – people say they need a blend of good infrastructure and services, including access to good quality homes, public transport, space to play and socialise, employment opportunities and more. The Scottish government has understood this demand and has taken the initial steps to deliver through the 20 minute neighbourhoods policy. As a sector, however, we now need to work collaboratively with policymakers to drive progress and meet the demand of our customers. 

There are so many positive instances of communities rallying together to support those most in need. One great example I know well is our community hub and pantry in Craigmillar which provides a place for members of the community to gather while also ensuring they have access to affordable food for their families when household budgets are under significant strain. 

While we cannot predict what challenges lie ahead, it’s vital that we work now, and at pace, to ensure that our communities are strengthened and, in a position, to not just navigate choppy waters, but to thrive, whilst breaking generational cycles of inequality, to change lives for the better.