Social Investment Scotland helps community care for elderly – Alasdair Davis

Alasdair Davis,CEO, Social Investment Scotland. Picture: Greg Macvean
Alasdair Davis,CEO, Social Investment Scotland. Picture: Greg Macvean
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In many rural areas in ­Scotland, elderly and vulnerable residents have to leave their communities, family and familiar surroundings to access the care and housing they need.

Founded in 1995, the Glenurquhart Care Project (GCP) was established to remedy this and to provide local care provision for the elderly and vulnerable in the communities in and around Glenurquhart. In 2000, it built The Glenurquhart Centre, which now offers many critical services to the local community.

GCP identified the opportunity to secure the land adjacent to the centre and build 12 amenity houses for the elderly and vulnerable. An inspiring example of a community-led care ­initiative, GCP’s vision for this project is to provide a service which will assist elderly people to enjoy an enhanced quality of life while remaining in their own community. They aim to provide a safe, supportive, stimulating environment where people are encouraged to maximise their physical, intellectual and ­emotional potential.

These homes not only support ­tenants but also support the organisation’s financial sustainability with new income generating initiatives, allowing them to safeguard their future impact on the community.

GCP’s relationship with SIS began when it took part in and won the Growth and Replication Challenge. Having secured more than £1 million in grant funding for its amenity homes project, GCP approached SIS with a view to social investment covering the shortfall in project funding.

Working with the SIS team, GCP was able to secure a loan from SIS’s Social Growth Fund, which has allowed it to complete these 12 amenity homes and change the lives of many elderly and vulnerable people in Glenurquhart. Supporting SIS’s reputation as Scotland’s leading social investment provider, GCP felt comfortable working with SIS and felt that SIS, a social enterprise itself, operates in a way that ‘holds the community’s hand’ through the process.

The houses are all now complete, the keys have been handed over and 14 people (and two dogs) now call them home. All houses are wheelchair accessible, have a shower room, are highly insulated to reduce heating costs and have two bedrooms to allow for a carer or visiting relatives.

GCP has also ensured that the homes can be adapted around the individual as their needs change. This offers the valuable opportunity for the elderly or vulnerable person to remain living in their community, rather than moving more than 15 miles away for similar housing.

These homes are set to create ­significant social impact for the ­people of Glenurquhart and, having opened in April, feedback from the local community is overwhelmingly positive. The homes will remain ­community-owned and rented at social rent levels to ensure their ­purpose of serving the local community is protected.

Social Investment Scotland ­provides investment for social enterprises, charities and organisations looking to make a real difference to people’s lives, society or the environment. Since launching in 2001, SIS has invested more than £71 million in social enterprises across Scotland.

In May, SIS announced the second Scottish Social Growth Fund, worth £17million and backed by the Scottish Government, Big Society ­Capital and the University of Edinburgh. The Scottish Social Growth Fund ­provides flexible social investment products between £100,000 and £1.7m and is available to charities and social enterprises throughout Scotland.

More details about SIS’s investments can be found in the annual Impact Report at www.socialinvestmentscotland.com/social-impact-report-2019/

Alasdair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland.