Don’t be lonely this Christmas


Christmas Lunch with the Salvation Army

This festive period, The Salvation Army will be holding a Christmas lunch.

The lunch is open to all those who are lonely and would like company for Christmas. There will also be a Church service at 11.00am, open to anyone who would like to attend.

Lunch will be from 12.30pm to 3.00pm, with coffee which will be served from 12.00pm.

The lunch is free but booking is essential. Help with transportation can be arranged. Please contact Kathy Betteridge on 0131 346 2875 or 07769 224667.

Christmas at Crisis Skylight

Crisis Skylight Edinburgh support single people who are homeless or vulnerably housed.

They are holding a Christmas event at the Southside Resource Centre at 117  Nicolson Street which people can drop-in into. The event will run on:-

Christmas Day and Boxing Day from 8.00am to 8.00pm

New Year’s Day from 12 noon to 8.00pm

For more information contact the Christmas team at

New Funding for Youth & Community Development Work


CHAI’s Youth & Community Development work has received a major boost with an award of additional funding from The Henry Smith Charity.

The new funding – £55,000 over two years – will allow us to employ a full-time Development Worker, focused on taking forward this important area of work.

Commenting on the new funding award, David Gardner (CHAI Project Executive), said:

“We have been fortunate to have received similar support from The Rank Foundation and The Robertson Trust over the past few years, and this new funding will help consolidate the work we do with young people and communities across this area.  We look forward to working with The Henry Smith Charity, and the other organisations who support this area of our activity, to make a real difference in the lives of the people we work with”.

CHAI has also recently developed close partnership working arrangements with Dunedin Canmore Youth Projects and the new funding from The Henry Smith Charity will help us develop this even further.

For more information on this, or any of the Youth and Community Development activity CHAI is involved with, please contact our Development Team on 0131 442 2100.

So, what exactly is it that you do?


If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked that question about CHAI over the years … well, I’d have several more pounds than I do at the moment.  It’s commonly asked by a wide range of people who may have had a specific reason for initial contact with us, but who then quickly grasp that there’s more going on than they may have at first thought.

The basics:  CHAI – the Community Help & Advice Initiative – is a ‘third sector’ organisation with charitable status, operating as a Limited Company.  In very broad terms we are a social welfare agency, delivering a range of services which are intended to improve the conditions of life of vulnerable people living in our communities.

So, what do we do?

We’ve just started a new operating year (2011/12) so, in a summarised answer to that question, here’s a quick tour round what CHAI will be doing in the months ahead.  These are in no particular order:  they’re all equally important.

Advice Services


One of the cornerstones of our service delivery is ensuring that the people we work with have access to quality advice, information and representation about income, debt, housing and the myriad of other issues which affect daily life.  Our National Standards Accredited Advice Service operates from full-time offices in Wester Hailes and Liberton/Gilmerton – as well as providing home visits and outreach surgeries as required.  We alsEHAPo provide specific support to NHS Lothian’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service – ‘Working Health Services Lothian’, and CHAI is the lead contractor for the City wide homelessness prevention advice service – the Edinburgh Housing Advice Partnership (EHAP).   During 2011/12 our Advice Service will continue to deliver Advice Services in line with City strategies on Advice and Health Inequalities.  Changes to Housing Benefit, and to the assessment conditions around Incapacity Benefits are likely to feature significantly in workloads this year.

Addictions Support

CHAI is commissioned by the Edinburgh Alcohol & Drug Partnership (EADP) to provide drug andEADP Logo alcohol support services across the South-West of the City, operating from office bases in Wester Hailes and Oxgangs.  The focus of these services is on individuals and families where substance misuse is an issue, with specialist staff working towards harm reduction, child protection and recovery outcomes through a mix of practical, social and clinical interventions.  Close links are maintained with the NHS Lothian Community Drug Problem Service and with a range of other referring medical professionals.  Joint working on delivery is carried out locally with the Wester Hailes Health Agency.  This will be an important year for the Service, with the recently launched EADP Strategy:  ‘A Framework for Partnership Action 2011 – 2014’ providing a template for service delivery.

Housing Support


Maintaining vulnerable people in their homes, and assisting them to live as independently as possible is a key component of CHAI’s service mix.  Our Housing Support Service works across the City, supporting individuals who require help with independent living skills such as budgeting, dealing with official correspondence, managing appointments and relationships with third parties and generally managing their tenancy or home.  Although Service Users can be anything from 16 years to over 100 years old, most of the people supported by CHAI’s Housing Support Services are over 50, with over a quarter in the 65+ age range.  Our Housing Support Service is regulated and inspected by the new body, Social Care & Social Work Improvement Scotland (formerly the Care Commission).

Employability Support

CHAI contributes to the City’s ‘Joined up for Jobs Strategy’ JobCentre Plusthrough our South West Neighbourhood focused Employability & Support project.  This service is specifically aimed at people who are most marginalised from the job market; those currently at Stages 1 & 2 on the ‘Employability Pipeline’ – and categorised as ‘Not Job Ready’.  The focus of our engagement is on removing those obstacles and barriers that prevent our target client group from moving on through the ‘Employability Pipeline’ and on into work, training or education opportunities; barriers such as debt, addictions, housing crisis, income, health and low confidence.  The key to this work is engaging with service users in their neighbourhoods, and at the point in their lives where they are ready to receive that support.  It’s about planting seeds and helping people move forward at the pace that is most appropriate to their needs.

Early Intervention Family Support


This service, focused on the Pentlands area of the City, is aimed at working with families where there are early indications of support needs, and providing interventions designed to address these at an early enough stage that they don’t go on to become more problematic later.  The activity supports the strategic objectives in the City Integrated Children’s and Young Peoples’ Plan.

Furniture Recycling Service

Furniture leafletOur Furniture project collects donations of re-useable furniture and household items and recycles these back out to the community.  Last year we diverted over 100 tonnes of furniture that may otherwise have ended up in landfill, carrying out 0ver 200 deliveries of basic start up and replacement furniture items to new and established tenants on low incomes.  If you have furniture items you no longer need, and are in good condition … give us a call!

DCHA Tenancy Support Service

DCHAcrop (2)

Commissioned and funded by Dunedin Canmore Housing Association (DCHA), this project works exclusively with new DCHA tenants housed in the Association’s ‘South Housing Area’, with the aim of assisting in tenancy sustainment outcomes.  Over 50% of new DCHA tenancies are let to people who have come through the homelessness route, and may have experienced issues with sustaining tenancies in the past.  This project works with the tenant and DCHA staff right from the very start of the new tenancy, addressing any issues which may impact on the sustainability of the tenancy.

Youth & Community Development Work

chai hands

CHAI’s work with the Rank Foundation promotes a range of group and individual support activities aimed at developing young people and the communities in which they live.  Realising potential and developing leadership is at the heart of this work: building the social capital of the community.

As well as this mix of advice, support and development services we also offer ‘Crisis Intervention Drop In’, where people experiencing short-term crises around, for example, income loss, can access emergency food parcels.

Joining these services together in one organisation maximises their impact, enabling cross-fertilization of the skills, knowledge and experience of staff throughout the Project – for the enhanced benefit of those using the services.

So, if you were wondering what we do … now you know.

For more information, details about how to contact CHAI – and how to access our services – have a look at our website:

It’s all going on …

Developing Positive Partnerships

Partnership working is at the heart of effective service delivery.  Alan Ross, of CHAI’s Development Team, takes a look at some of the positive partnership working that he and his colleagues are currently engaged in:


Over the past year a primary focus of the Development Team has been on building stronger links with statutory and voluntary organizations in the local community. We have done this by adopting a pro-active attitude and being open to approaching organizations with our ideas. In fact, in testament to potential benefits of this approach, almost every piece of work we have been involved in this year has involved a significant degree of partnership working. We’ve brokered relationships in a number of ways through utilizing past associations and friendships and keeping our eyes and ears open for opportunities.

Partnership working is of course a dominant theme in today’s voluntary sector and something we all have to adjust and accommodate ourselves to then idea of. The message from above is that, in terms of securing funding, partnership working is the way to go and bids or tenders highlighting partnerships will be looked at favourably in the future. Aside of the pragmatic reasons for developing partnerships we also believe that working alongside local organizations offers us an invaluable opportunity to reach out to more members of the community and provide an enhanced service.

As such it is useful to look at a few examples the partnership working we have been developing this year and the various ways in which pieces of work have evolved.

Fathers Group – In partnership with Sighthill and Hailesland Children’s Centre:  A major piece of work for us this year has been the development of a fathers group in partnership with the two local children’s centres. This partnership evolved through our historical link with the children’s centres nurtured through our family and young persons support service that often supported clients using the centres facilities. We approached Hailesland Centre with the idea of piloting a group and they jumped at the opportunity. The pilot sessions went well, despite the lack of an activity budget. We later applied for some funding via a health inequalities and building social capital tender which we were successful in getting. Since then the group has gone from strength to strength creating opportunities on a weekly basis for fathers to develop supportive peer relationships and spend quality time with their children as well as filling a much felt gap in service provision.

Calder’s Community Flat Drop in Advice service – In partnership with Edinburgh City Council:  A particularly interesting piece of work which has developed in part out of our employability contract. We were originally asked by the Council to focus some of our resources on the Calder’s neighbourhood as the area is considered remote from some of the services provided in the wider community. We initially hit upon the idea of providing a drop in advice service out of the local community flat in one of the neighbourhoods high rise flats. We then brokered input from the Councils Community Safety and Rents Team who began attending and offering outreach advice. The service gathered some attention from the media and after receiving positive feedback from the Council measures have been put in place to properly develop the flat into a genuine community hub where a wide range of services of benefit to the local community can be delivered.

EVOLS Environmental Volunteering – In partnership with Dunedin Canmore Housing Association and the Edinburgh & Lothian Greenspace Trust: The EVOLS group aims to bring together young people who are unemployed to undertake various pieces of practical environmental work. The partnership evolved out of a relationship we had with a Community Learning and Development worker who was seconded to Dunedin Canmore to develop their youth services. The worker, alongside one of the CHAI Development Team staff, had been involved in environmental volunteering projects in the past and had come to appreciate their value as both a method for delivering youth work and a way of giving something back to the local community. The involvement of the Lothian & Greenspace Trust has meant that we have been able to carry out some work they have been commissioned to do, much of which has involved the regeneration of the local Hailes Quarry Park.

These pieces of work are the tip of the iceberg in terms of our ambitions for the Development Team. We have been doing some fantastic work of late which has been generating regular positive feedback. We intend on utilising the CHAI blog as a way of making the community aware of the work we are undertaking, highlighting real examples of the ways in which the community and individuals are benefiting, as well as exploring some of the reasons why we are so firmly committed to the work we do.

We’re always open to suggestions for new areas of work, so if you have any, comment away – or contact us on 0131 442 2100.