Riverside Scotland marks its 30th year at AGM and reflects on a successful year of new services, new homes and enhanced support for customers

Jim Strang, Chair of Riverside Scotland

Riverside Scotland welcomed members to its Annual General Meeting last week where chair Jim Strang recapped on a successful year as the organisation marked its 30th year.

Speaking of how it it is more important than ever to focus on quality – both of its existing homes and its relationship with customers, Jim reflected on the success of The Big Conversation. Through the comprehensive survey a quarter of the Association’s customers provided feedback to shape the future delivery of its services, including how it can work more proactively with customers to improve local neighbourhoods and communities, how it can best support customers through the cost-of-living crisis to sustain their tenancies, and how it can improve its digital service delivery options to make it easier for customers to access services online.

The organisation has redesigned its service offer for the future based on customer feedback with community drop ins, direct contact details for housing staff and more frontline colleagues on its estates.

In addition, the recruitment of an Affordability Officer has been a welcome support to those experiencing difficulties with payment of rent, utilities, and wider debt issues.

The organisation’s tenancy sustainability services continued to enable people facing a wide variety of challenging circumstances to lead more resilient and independent lives. Since establishing its partnership with Veterans first Point/NHS Ayrshire & Arran two years ago the organisation has housed 23 military veterans. And its Housing First for Families support service supported 36 families to sustain their tenancy over 2022/23.

In summer 2022 the Association’s money advice service celebrated ten years helping customers access the benefits and grants they were entitled to, securing more than £4 million pounds for customers.

Other highlights included the completion of 190 new homes, including Scotland’s largest affordable modular housing scheme and over £2m in upgrades to existing stock.

In her Managing Director’s overview, Diana MacLean spoke of Riverside’s three-year plan ‘Forward Together’. Diana reported that as it looks to the future the organisation is focused on delivering significant improvements to its assets, striving for net zero and looking at how it can regenerate some of its estates by working closely with partners across Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. Diana highlighted the £1.5m ECO project currently underway to make older properties in Dumfries more energy efficient.

Morag Hutchinson, Head of Finance & Business Support Services delivered a presentation on the Association’s annual accounts, which despite the challenging operating environment demonstrated a strong financial position with reserves of £26m, ensuring the organisation is well placed to invest in communities and stock in the coming years.

Jim closed by thanking the Board, members and colleagues for the contribution that they had made and their continued support for the Association.

Riverside Scotland’s Annual Review can be viewed here.