CHILDREN'S toys, microwaves, mobile phone top-ups – this is how Scotland's largest housing, care and property management group is helping the country cope with the coronavirus.

More than 135 people suffering hardship during the pandemic have been helped by the Wheatley group, which delivers services to more than 250,000 Scots from Dumbarton to Leith and Dumfries to Bathgate.

Its operations include Cube Housing Association in the west of the country, Dunedin Canmore in the east and the Wheatley Foundation, which directs more than £5 million towards supporting vulnerable people in the areas it serves every year.

Its new £50,000 Emergency Response Fund is now making one-off payments to some of the groups and households hit hardest by the crisis.

That's helped some get the kitchen goods, mobile phone credit and other essentials they need to keep going during the lockdown.

Supermarket vouchers were delivered to a South Lanarkshire breakfast club run by tenants of Wheatley’s property-management subsidiary YourPlace, and in Grangemouth, Wheatley Care staff provided laminated tick-and-cross displays for their windows to indicate when they needed help. In Edinburgh, a care colleague took large-print books to an elderly man in hospital and a vulnerable Loretto tenant in Glasgow received a cooker.

The fund also helped GHA tenant Natasha Schofield and her self-employed partner John, who is now unable to work, with their utility bills, as well as board games and art materials for daughter Skye. The Glasgow woman said: "I didn't even have to ask, the help was there straight away."

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And fellow GHA tenant Betty Rooney thanked Wheatley staff for volunteering to deliver crucial medication to her each week, stating: "To know there is someone I can rely on is a great help."

Lorraine McLaren, director of Wheatley Foundation, said: “So many of our customers are being hit hard by the crisis. Too many are in financial hardship and struggling to get by because they are ill or self isolating. The one-off payments from the Emergency Response Fund are much-needed support in their time of need.”

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