Press release

Scotland's first Prime Minister's Big Society Award winner: West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative (WWHC) from South Lanarkshire, Glasgow, has become the first Scottish recipient of the Prime Minister's Big Society Award.

Members of the group attended a reception in Downing Street last week to collect their award.

WWHC was set up by the tenants of a previously dilapidated local authority estate, and has been awarded for the great voluntary work within the cooperative, which has provided quality affordable housing and improved life for many in the community.

The story of WWHC started 23 years ago when the tenants decided that they could no longer put up with the housing conditions in the rundown estate, and so created the democratically run cooperative. Initially they provided, managed and maintained quality affordable housing. Now, through a community centre established on the estate by the co-operative, WWHC run recreational and educational activities and events. It functions as the hub of the community, employing a number of local people.

Congratulating WWHC on their award, the Prime Minister said:

I am delighted that in West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative we finally have our first Scottish winner of a Big Society Award.  After 23 years of working to improve life for the local community I am pleased that the charity is receiving recognition for all that it has done and I was pleased to be able to welcome some of its members to 10 Downing Street recently to celebrate their success.

The Co-op was set up to improve conditions on the estate and its achievements are visible to the whole community, from refurbishing existing homes to creating a community centre and installing CCTV across the area. This is a fantastic example of the Big Society and I hope they inspire many more groups from Scotland.

On receiving the Big Society Award, Susan Anderson, Chairperson, WWHC, said:

WWHC was delighted to receive notification of the Big Society award being conferred on WWHC by The Prime Minister. It is a notable and significant endorsement of the tremendous work that WWHC does and has done over the years. What we do demonstrates the effective and successful delivery of organisations who follow the route of Co-operation.

Cheryl Burnett, Secretary, WWHC, commented on the award:

 ”I am delighted WWHC has been honoured in this way. I, as a tenant/member of WWHC, can speak first hand of the manner in which WWHC delivers high quality housing, housing services and community projects to all members of our community. It was just over two years ago that I joined WWHC and being part of The Co-operative has had a tremendously positive impact on myself and my young family. WWHC just seems to go from strength to strength and this honour should bring the successes of our work to a larger audience, some of whom may wish to follow the successful Co-operative route.

Since the start of the cooperative in 1989, WWHC has invested more than £50 million which they received in funding from Scottish Homes/Communities Scotland, towards improvements on the estate. This includes the refurbishment of six blocks of flats, the community centre, CCTV installation and the building of 100 new terraced houses.

Recently WWHC has been focusing on energy and financial inclusion projects.
Their most recent accomplishments to date include:

  • funding significant energy efficiency projects with the help of the Climate Fund, employing two local people as community advisors offering tenants best advice on tariff charges and energy saving practices.
  • an £8m funding package, utilising CSEP (Community Energy Savings Programme) and ECO (Energy Company Obligations) for a biomass energy project for 544 tenants. This initiative will have a significant impact on fuel poverty locally and they estimate it could save tenants as much as 30% on their heating bills.
  • having initiated a project in conjunction with our local Credit Union to help explain and prepare our tenants for, the significant changes happening due to Welfare Benefit Reforms due in 2013.

Notes to Editors

On West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative

Media Contact: Paul J Farrell, Director, WWHC
Phone: 0141 641 8628
Email: PJFarrell@wwhc.org.uk
Website: www.wwhc.org.uk

On the Big Society Awards:

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.

The award focuses upon three specific areas:

Outstanding Contribution to Community

  • People, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves
  • Projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions
  • People, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community

Improving Lives and Society Through Innovation, Collaboration and New Partnerships

  • People and organisations taking new approaches to public services
  • Successful collaboration and partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector - working together to benefit communities

Engaging in Social Action

  • People, projects and organisations taking action in their community
  • Working together for social change (e.g. through creating groups, campaigns, movements)
  • Generosity of time, money, skills and other resources - in support of social action

Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:

There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.

These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.

Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a Panel of Ministers and independent external experts. This Panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to. Twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced once a week throughout the year.

Fifty-two winners have been announced to date, including:

Livity (Nationwide) - A youth engagement agency working with young people every day to co-create campaigns, content and communities. Their clients - including C4, Legacy Trust, Google, NHS, Virgin Media, BlackBerry and Big Lottery Fund - get uniquely deep youth insights and a precious pool of young talent, energy and ideas. Their young people get training, equipment, support and opportunities to build brighter futures.

The Furniture Recycling Project (Gloucestershire) - The Furniture Recycling Project is a charity that has been operating in Gloucestershire since 1996 collecting donated furniture and household white goods, repairing and testing the items, and selling them at their shops for a very low cost to the disadvantaged community in Gloucestershire.

Cherry Orchard Gardening Services (Staffordshire) - COGS is a social enterprise from Staffordshire that enables disabled people to maintain gardens of elderly residents. A team of trained gardeners, all of who have a learning disability, carries out the gardening for older people as well as the grounds of the Memorial Hall. Their work reduces the vulnerability of the elderly, as their property appears well maintained, whilst providing disabled individuals with useful skills and work.

Volunteer it Yourself (Nationwide) - VIY combines volunteering and DIY by challenging young people aged 14-17 to learn building and construction skills on the job by committing to fix local youth club buildings in need of essential repairs. VIY volunteers are mentored by professional tradespeople and gain vocational accreditations as well as access to further training, work placement and apprenticeship opportunities with local employers beyond the project.

For a full list of winners visit http://www.bigsocietyawards.org