Saltcoats Link Up is a grass roots community development project based in Saltcoats for the last 10yrs tackling disadvantage and inequality by empowering people to help themselves, each other and their community.
Our approach incorporates three levels of provision:

• Helping people to participate in community life – We achieve this by harnessing people’s strengths to establish activities they want. Through participation, acquiring and sharing new skills, people form supportive relationships and their confidence and self-esteem grows.

These fundamentals build resilience and motivate people to create a better future for themselves and their community: improving health and wellbeing, creating a brighter financial future via employment/education; becoming active citizens looking out for the welfare of others.

• Harnessing active citizenship to support the community – Through growing active citizenship we have established three community support mechanisms led by local volunteers. These include the Community Shop (272 members i.e. over 500 people in total) and Lifelines Group raising awareness and supporting people impacted by suicide (distributed over 4,000 Lifeline Cards as well as our Market Garden Project- planting and growing fresh vegetables which supplement our Community Shop

• Targeted intervention for those struggling the most – We put people’s interests first in order to understand people’s lives. Staff are trained to identify and support people living with trauma, suicidality, loss and conflict. This creates a space where people feel welcomed and able to ask for help.
Our approach builds foundations for change through social activities but complements this with targeted early interventions, enabling Saltcoats Link Up to engage the most vulnerable, struggling with: suicide; trauma, poor mental and physical health, often accompanied by substance abuse, social isolation, loneliness.

Most recently Saltcoats Link Up after the success of some family-based initiatives earlier this year and after consultation with local families- we sourced funding to hold 14 family events across July and August. These events will be held across the Three Towns and Kilwinning

Locally families identify the gap therefore we will host events across the days evening weekends to support families across the school holiday periods. Families have told us they want a range of free family events (largely because they are fun and let whole families join in and participate with other families), and where practical, that these should address some of the pressures of the cost of living, especially around food and the cost of school

There are many reasons why families struggle during this time – many families do not have any disposable income to provide activities for their children

Many families irrespective of their employment status are still impacted by the cost of living crisis, they are experiencing food and fuel crisis or food insecurity. Many at this time of year struggle financially because cost of uniforms and school supplies – Last year we had over 100 families access preloved school uniforms

Recent statics tell us that 65% of families living in north Ayrshire are living with food insecurity. Our central location in Saltcoats (Argyle Centre) positions us adjacent to three data zones in the top 5% SIMD and two with child poverty rates at 48.8% and 63.1% respectively (Scottish Household Survey, 2021-22).

Furthermore, our workers take time to understand family’s lives, creating a space where they can ask for help. Therefore, we also provide emotional and practical assistance to help them cope better. This includes specialist assistance from a growing range of partners
These interventions can prevent families falling into crisis (financial, housing and HWB) and aid their recovery post crisis.
Our model means we are able to combine the open family events with support through our dedicated 1-2-1 help and specialist advice (benefits, debt management, energy, oral health, young people bus passes ) for those struggling the most.

This contributes to a range of positive outcomes for families:
· More participating in community life
· Forming relationships with other local families
· Looking out for and supporting each other
· Greater sense of belonging to their community
· Familial relationships improved
· Mental health and wellbeing improved
· Less isolated and/or lonely
· Better able to cope with life
· Greater awareness and understanding of the types of support that are available to them