The New Year brought a brand-new start in new premises for local organisation, Tighean Innse Gall (TIG).

The local housing agency swapped their old offices in South Beach and Point Street for new premises at 13-15 Francis Street during January 2019.

TIG CEO, Stewart Wilson, explains the reasoning behind the move: “We've basically outgrown the accommodation we were in.  The old premises meant the team had to be split up and work was less efficient.

“We now have additional space for customer meeting rooms.  In the old building, we were restricted to one small meeting room for clients, but here we have two – as well as toilet facilities if visitors require them.”

The Management Committee will also decide the fate of a space adjacent to the new reception area.  Stewart reveals: “The team are thinking of the best ways to use that area.  It could potentially be a small demonstration facility for visitors to see the kind of works we do.  Or we could open it up for small community groups to meet there.”

The organisation undertake a range of services, including Insulation, Care and Repair, Development and Energy Advice.

Speaking about the Insulation services, Stewart says: “We have a large section that assists in running some of the national, government-sponsored programmes that are delivered through the local authority.  We act as agents for them.

“We especially target people affected by fuel poverty.  That might involve looking at insulation on the roof or internal walls, or they might need underfloor or loft insulation.”

“The Care and Repair service also comes through the local authority, who we help to deliver adaptations for disabled people.  For example, we have a range of temporary ramping, which the occupational therapy service can take advantage of.   This can benefit clients who perhaps
can't be discharged from hospital because they can't get access to their home.  After the client is finished with the ramps, someone else can use them.  That's a really successful part of our Care and Repair work.”

The TIG Development section are particularly geared towards helping younger people take their first steps onto the property ladder.  Stewart says: “Often, young folk simply can't afford to put a deposit down on a mortgage product, so we have a scheme that includes two aspects.”  

The first aspect involves renting the property, then purchasing that property after a three to five-year period.  Both the rent and the purchase price will be agreed beforehand.  “We take a portion from the rent and effectively put it in a savings pot,” Stewart explains.  “That then becomes their deposit for the mortgage product when they get to the point of purchase.”

A significant part of the TIG team is the Energy Advice section.  “We work with the local authority and various community groups,” states Stewart.  “We are also involved in some European projects, where we look to bring innovative ideas here to the islands.”

The service extends from energy advice, coupled with home visits from the Butt to Barra, as well as suggestions on energy tariffs.  TIG also work as a mediator between customers and their energy suppliers.  “If people have issues, we can step in and deal with the utility directly and often resolve the problem amicably,” Stewart explains.  “This service has been very successful when things have gone wrong between a customer and supplier.”

TIG are heavily focussed on encouraging people to use less energy.  A current project involves promoting energy efficiency across every village in the Outer Hebrides. The use of electric vehicles around the islands will be encouraged.  “That project has just started and will run for two years,” reveals Stewart.  “We're trying to help people overcome the anxiety they might have about driving electrical vehicles on the islands.  We're also asking them to look at the energy use in the home and how they can do so more efficiently.”

For a full list of the wide range of TIG services, visit the website or say hello at the brand new offices on 13-15 Francis Street, Stornoway, HS1 2NA.