Hjaltland Housing Press Release

June 19th 2020

We have a number of exciting things to share with our customers.

Children across Shetland are set to receive a free book each month until their fifth birthday as a result of Hjaltland Housing Association signing up to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

Any child under the age of five residing in an Association property will be eligible to benefit from the scheme, with books being posted direct to the children, creating a gift experience to inspire a love of books and reading. The initiative recognises the positive benefits to children who read in early life, as well as the quality time parents and carers can spend with their children.

Ian Bray, Head of Housing and Customer Service at Hjaltland, said: “Hjaltland is delighted to be working with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to offer this exciting initiative to our tenants with children under five years of age. Our involvement with the Imagination Library reinforces our commitment in delivering great services to our tenants, at a time when we are aware many will be worried about their financial situation. We would like to remind all tenants that we are here to offer support and guidance where there is financial hardship or worry about what the future may hold – our staff are available on 01595 694986 or mail@hjaltland.org.”

Dolly Parton created the Imagination Library as a tribute to her Dad, who was unable to read. Her mission is to inspire children to love to read, and since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has successfully grown and become an award-winning early childhood book gifting program across the world. Tenants who qualify will be contacted by the Association directly with details on how to enroll.

Meanwhile the Association recently hosted an online information session with tenants, providing updates on service delivery, scrutinising performance figures for the 2019/20 reporting year and sharing the Association’s very own ‘route map’ back to business as usual.

The pandemic has provided us a platform to engage with tenants in a new way, and we were delighted to host a Zoom meeting, which resulted in an excellent response rate. This format provides an opportunity for more tenants to have a say in our policies and future direction, and we welcome any tenant who has an interest in joining us for future meetings. We now have tenants contributing to our summer newsletter, assisting us with our annual report and helping us plan a summer gardening competition.

In line with government guidance, the Association has been completing essential and emergency repairs only, whilst trialing augmented reality technology to assist in diagnosing repairs remotely. The Association has created its own route map, which will progress in-step with the Scottish Government route map, and is being sent out to all tenants so they know at what point all services will be reinstated.

Whilst the latest housing development at King Harald Street, 27 one bedroom flats, will experience a delay due to COVID-19, planning has now started on how the properties will be allocated. The Association is completing a consultation exercise with all stakeholders on the use of the 10 x ground floor properties. Given the excellent location and attributes of the development, we are looking to have a slight variation on how we allocate the ground floor properties. The Association’s vision is to provide homes and services that enable our tenants to thrive in communities where people are proud to live and work’, and we see these properties as a sustainable housing solution that can adapt to suit the needs of tenants as they change.

We have completed an initial consultation exercise with our Tenant Focus Group. The members of this group were keen for the ground floor properties to be targeted towards elderly tenants who may have mobility issues and find they are struggling in their current accommodation.

With this in mind, we are proposing to make a distinction for the 10 ground floor properties, identifying them as ‘Amenity housing’ within our Allocation Policy. Amenity housing is essentially social housing that has been designated as particularly suitable for older tenants, with scope for future adaptations , but without the support that may be present in traditional ‘sheltered’ accommodation. For the allocation of these properties, we will continue to use our current Allocation process, with the exception that only applicants over the age of 50 will be considered.

The consultation will run from Monday 29th June until Friday 17th July. More detailed information on the proposal will be available at www.hjaltland.org from Monday 29th June.

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