Places for People Scotland has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Fresh Start, an Edinburgh charity that helps people who have been homeless to become established in their new community. At the core of Fresh Start’s services are initiatives to connect communities through food.

It started over seven years ago when we helped restore a garden in Craigmillar to its former glory for the community to enjoy. Since then, with financial support from the Places Foundation’s Impact Fund, we have provided funds for Fresh Start hit squads. Through these hit squads, volunteers help customers moving on from homelessness to decorate their new home and cookery classes which bring people together around food to learn new skills and to socialise. During the lockdown, our colleagues helped to deliver nine thousand emergency food packs from Fresh Start to people in need across Edinburgh. For some, our visits were the only people they would see throughout the week.

We attach great value to partnerships that have a positive impact on the people that make up our communities, and Fresh Start chief executive, Biddy Kelly, echoes that view:

“Our organisations are aligned in our values and goals which is probably why we work so well together. We both want people moving on from homelessness not only to settle in their new home and to sustain their tenancies but to reach their full potential. We address local needs by providing affordable food with dignity to people in need in North Edinburgh through The Pantry, and the support we have had from Places for People Scotland for our hit squads and cooking classes helps us connect people moving on from homelessness with their local community.

“Our relationship is not just based on financial support; it’s built on how we use our partnership to link up organisations for the greater good of the community. We are a tiny charity and have benefitted from a much larger organisation’s networks and experiences. And it’s a two-way street. We were able to share our knowledge and experience in running a neighbourhood facility and providing access to affordable food when Places for People Scotland launched a community hub and The Pantry in Craigmillar.”

Our relationship with Fresh Start continues to go from strength to strength and our community networks are growing as we look for ways to share our complementary skills with other organisations.

“Collaboration is the way forward in building sustainable communities,” said Biddy, “and we are actively seeking ways of bringing other organisations into our community network for the benefit of the people living here. Places for People Scotland provide vital housing and support services and are a friend we can ask for help. If they can’t help, they will know someone who can from their vast network. In return, we provide on the ground services and community building experience and together we share ideas for supporting and bolstering community connections.

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