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‘For us, it has been really easy to access and the whole process has been seamless’: Ayrshire Housing

The Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card can be spent with over 170 businesses across South Ayrshire. Ayrshire Housing used the South Ayrshire Gift Card to distribute to tenants as part of a fuel support initiative.

Jennifer McCann is from Ayrshire Housing:

“We received £54,000 of funding to help with fuel assistance for Ayrshire housing tenants. We were able to distribute packs including an air fryer, slow cooker and a clothes horse using a local homeware store but were struggling to find a way to make the fuel payment other than putting money into people’s accounts. We looked at prepaid fuel cards but it would have been very labour intensive and we didn’t have the staff resources to manage this, that’s when we came across the Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card.

“Distributing the Scotland Loves Local South Ayrshire Gift Card to tenants means they can make utility payments using the card in their local shops and convenience stores. When we spoke to our funders about using the South Ayrshire Gift Card, they were happy, especially if we were able to highlight to tenants exactly where they could make their utility payments.

“We cover a 76 mile area at Ayrshire Housing. One of the good things about using the South Ayrshire Gift Card is that it has good rural coverage and a good spread of where to spend. Of course, tenants could choose to spend their South Ayrshire Gift Card on food shopping which then frees up money from their budget to pay for gas and electricity in another way. However the cards are used, it is keeping money local, supporting community wealth building, keeping people in jobs, and encouraging people to shop local.

“Households received a South Ayrshire Gift Card depending on how many people were in the family, with almost £7000 distributed. We are about to undertake phase 2, where we will distribute around £5000 in South Ayrshire Gift Cards.

“The South Ayrshire Gift Cards have been really well received by tenants who say it has come at just the right time for them and are really grateful for the value in the cards. We had the cards all pre-activated and sent to our office at Ayrshire Housing, asking tenants to come to the office and sign for their cards. This took away any issues with tenants having to activate their cards.

“Ordering the South Ayrshire Gift Cards was really easy. I ordered them online, received an invoice the following day and the cards arrived a week to 10 days later. If tenants aren’t able to come to the office to pick up their card, a housing officer will go out and drop off their card for them. They then have the option to use their gift card online with delivery direct to their home.

“Most of our tenants are able to access services online, and the South Ayrshire Gift Card page with the where to spend list is easy to access for most people. However, some might not have access to the internet, so we included a leaflet with details of where to spend the gift cards when we handed them out provided this information at a glance.

“Now I know how easy it is to use the South Ayrshire Gift Card for both us as a housing association and our tenants, there is an opportunity to use it for other purposes, such as for a tenants’ hardship fund, plus good neighbour and garden competitions. We can keep a supply of the cards to use as required.

“For any other housing associations or not for profit organisations thinking about using their local Scotland Loves Local Gift Card, I’d say have a look at it and see how it meets the needs of your service users. For us, it has been really easy to access and the whole process has been seamless.”

Tenants who received the gift card said:

“This is amazing news and has come at just the right time! We are so grateful.”

“Thank you for heating payment. I can pay using my payment card at Spar so the gift card would be good.”

“Thank you very much for the winter pack. I just wanted to let you know that the items are really good quality and is very much appreciated and the added £75 South Ayrshire Gift Card really helped us as it is a struggle just now.”