The lives of 35 vulnerable people should soon be changed for the better thanks to a major £350,000-plus payout by the Big Lottery Fund to Hjaltland Housing Association.
The significant boost, together with a near-£40,000 Scottish government cash injection, will be used to adapt and run a council-owned building as a “hub” base to help young people in their transition out of the care system.
From there intensive round-the-clock support will be on offer to care leavers from across the isles.
The hub will offer shared accommodation for two young people and a drop-in centre for many others who will learn new skills to help them manage their own tenancy.
Two single outreach flats are also being offered as part of the initiative. There, residents will also have the support of a hub worker.
Hjaltland will use a portion of the money to employ two members of staff, while other staff will be provided by the council from within its existing resources.
The three-year project will also involve other agencies such as the Moving On project.
Fiona Robertson, the association’s housing services manager, said the award would change the lives of vulnerable young people.
“We would say the vast majority of these people will either be council tenants or Hjaltland tenants.
“We recognise that if you are not pro-active in trying to support the most vulnerable of people it will have a knock-on effect on our business, and we are not just about bricks and mortar.
“It’s about supporting the community, and that includes vulnerable people.
“This award will change lives. The funding will play a significant role in supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in Shetland in their transition out of the care system.
“In partnership with Shetland Islands Council housing and children’s services, as well as other agencies in Shetland, Hjaltland will develop an exciting new project to support each young person to see a future full of possibilities and opportunities.”
The lottery cash boost for Shetland reaches £351,487 in total, and comes as part of a £4 million pay-out from the organisation’s Investing in Communities awards for 2012.
An additional £39,912 has come from the Scottish government’s Wider Role fund, which is available to help social landlords.
Big Lottery Fund Scotland chairwoman Maureen McGinn said the aim of the funding was to support independent living.
She said: “For young people leaving care the transition to adulthood and independent living can be both a scary and exciting time. Organisations like the Hjaltland Housing Association which provide the stability and support needed during this period that enable young people to face the future with confidence. I am delighted that they are one of the groups to share in today’s funding and wish them every success as they help many more young people on the road to independent living.”