Exciting Challenges Ahead
In 1993, Home Aid existed as another name: the very snappy Voluntary Action West Lothian (VAWL). Originally a service provided by West Lothian Council of Social Services, it was founded at that time by Alison Hossack and, then volunteer, Jackie Agnew. VAWL was responsible for several services, recycled furniture being only one of these.
Over time, initial demand suggested that this aspect of the business be formalised as its own venture, with Jackie as Co-ordinator - the organisations first employee. She was joined by Mary Hood, who took on the role of Administrator, and in April 1996, Home Aid West Lothian was officially “hatched”.
Exciting times indeed, but also challenging ones. A single, undersized and breakdown-prone van made up the entire fleet and without any central heating, the Gideon Street premises were nothing short of baltic. Not the cosy impression ideally required when providing for would-be home owners and tenants.
Despite this, demand increased year on year, from 366 referrals in year one, to 516 in year two. Home Aid West Lothian were helping more and more people.
The Great Leap Forward
In 1999, then-chairman Allister Mackie described it as “the year of the great leap forward” as the organisation begun to receive recognition on a national level. Home Aid continued to increase referrals and, with the help of an increased funding stream courtesy of a large National Lottery grant, push the charity forward.
By 2014 the team had grown to seven full-time members of staff and now had a second property - a smaller “Community Thrift Shop” on Bathgate’s George Street. And Home Aid being Home Aid made it their mission to allow other small charities use of the shop to raise funds for their own causes. Very considerate.
A (not so fond) farewell was given to Home Aid’s first van, with a newer model taking its place. The Gideon Street office was now a toasty warm haven with the addition of a central heating system, and as a result, a shop floor established. The public could now pay a visit, take a look around and find a bargain first-hand.
Goodbye, Little Red House
After decades of incredible work, the original duo Jackie and Mary left Home Aid, leaving an admirable legacy behind them. With this change, came many others.
The Home Aid “Little Red House” logo, too, had served its time, with the charity commissioning a new brand to reflect its future ambitions.
The Home Aid “pigeon” logo had flown to the rescue, ready to help the West Lothian community with a little bit of nest building. Several new vans were purchased and decked out with a whole family of giant birds - truly a fleet to be proud of. And with the ever-growing popularity of the George Street Community Thrift Shop, Home Aid took the decision to claim it fully for themselves, treating it to a full refurbish along the way.
Retail locations covered, and with an already popular Facebook page providing customers with the opportunity to purchase from their chat box, a new online shop was launched in March 2022. Home Aid was now truly accessible to everyone.
And now, over 25 years on, Home Aid still works to the same vision and ethos it always has; to be there for those who need them most.