Sam Stronach, project co-ordinator, tells us about ‘Our house’ – Cottsway’s community housing project:
“It was an idea we shared with West Oxfordshire District Council in 2017 following a government grant from the Community Housing Fund.
“Like many other places, West Oxfordshire has seen cuts to the youth services offered and this, coupled with high house prices, means it can be hard for young people to achieve a home of their own.
“However, with the help of the Community Housing Fund we’ve been able to develop ‘Our house,’ helping under 35s on out-of-work benefits move off the housing waiting list, and ultimately off benefits too.
“Since the project started, we have converted two properties in Witney into shared accommodation and are currently supporting seven housemates by giving them a home and helping them get back into work, training or education.
“We continually assess and adjust how we work to ensure we’re providing the best opportunities to those involved.
“We’ve learnt it’s not just about the bricks and mortar – the mental health and well-being of our housemates is also fundamental to the success of the project. The flexibility to adapt and work more effectively is what makes ‘Our house’ so innovative.
“For me, the best part of the job is seeing our housemate’s journeys. Their path to living independently is not always easy, with many highs and lows but it’s the small victories that make it worthwhile.
“I’m delighted that ‘Our house’ is continuing to go from strength to strength and we’re currently working towards establishing a third home in the Witney area.
“Watch this space for more information!”
For more information, including how to apply for the project, see the Our house webpage