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The Fife Regeneration, Health and Wellbeing Study

Finding out more about the health and wellbeing of the people of Fife

October 2007: Feeling Safe at Home

This session asks people to think about life at home, about what they like about where they live and what makes them feel safe, or sometimes not so safe at home.

This is a pictorial representation of what people told us. You can right click and save the image to your desktop as an A4 poster here.

Feeling safe at home poster

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We report on what people told us in the following 6 sections:


About half of our participants have lived in the same home for a good length of time, from at least ten years all the way up to sixty. On the other hand, most of the other half of our participants are fairly new to their homes, living there for less than two years – including one person in temporary accommodation. We asked people to reflect on what helps them to feel comfortable and safe at home.

People like living in a place they know well, surrounded by familiar household objects.

I was brought up there – I feel secure in it.

I like to get in and put the kettle on. The best feeling for me is getting home after I’ve been at the day centre all day.

I like it when I’m in the living room on my own with my dog. I can play the Playstation and listen to CDs without getting interrupted.

Yes I feel safe because I know every inch of it. Sometimes when I’m out I can’t wait to
get home because it’s where I feel safest and feel I belong there.

My bits and pieces that give me a sense of ownership, this helps me feel secure – having made the house our own. There’s more love in this house, I associate it with positive times.

The house is comfortable and it’s like being in your own little world.

People like having others for company.

I like when my sister comes up because she helps me on the computer with the internet. She helps with my college work. I like having my brother and sister’s company.

For people in supported accommodation, having good staff for company and support is important.

The staff are really nice, they’re pleasant, they support you all the way.

I like cooking for others and tidying up. And the support and advice from staff.

For some people having enough space, including outside space, is important.

There’s loads of rooms. There’s a green so I can get outside.

I like the size of my house. When we were first married we always had small houses – there was never enough space and the children had to share a bedroom. Now we have lots of space.

I like the fact it has a garden.

I have the biggest room in the house… I basically live in it.

I like the size of the rooms.

It’s also helpful to have convenient access to local shops and transport links. Particularly for older people, it’s important to not have stairs to climb.

I like that it’s on one level.

It’s near a bus route.

It’s safe and the shops are close.

It’s all on the one floor – I hate going up and down stairs.

Most people enjoy having an outdoor space but it needs to be well kept in order to be safe and attractive – not everyone is motivated or able to do this for themselves. Paths need to be maintained well, particularly for older people with poor balance or vision.

Some experiences are positive:

Both the stairs and the garden are kept really well and clean. The garden’s kept by the Council.

My wife looks after the garden – there’s just a wee bit for flowers.

I couldn’t manage the gardens so had monoblock put down.

Some are less so, and there are concerns about safety:

The garden path area is uneven and yesterday when I was going out I tripped and fell. Luckily I never broke anything. Slabs and bricks are broken and uneven. It’s dangerous, I don’t feel safe.

The Council has been out to repair the fence but they have not finished the job and the way they have left it is unsafe.

The garden’s untidy and messy.

I have a big enclosed garden that I sit in a lot in the summer. Because I have a big garden my grandchildren enjoy coming here, especially in the summer.

It’s beautiful.

Sometimes being able to enjoy shared gardens depends on neighbours:

Sometimes it’s peaceful and sometimes it’s loud.

A secure perimeter fence is important for many people.

The wee one can wander, so I don’t let her out without us.

It’s a bit rough round here now and we’ve had people walking through our garden at night – most recently there was a man in the garden at two in the morning. We also have trouble with kids throwing stones and bottles and things at the windows.

The gardens are like an allotment which is enclosed and secure. We all have a bit at the front. It’s well looked after.

It can be helpful to have your garden visible by others.

The garden’s fine. It’s not very private though which this is a good thing in a way because the neighbours might see if someone is trying to break in or if anything’s wrong.

Stairs need to be cleaned and well lit.

In my stair it is black, full of paper, sweet wrappers and dog’s wee and shit. There is meant to be a caretaker but I sometimes wonder!

The stairs are cleaned regularly, it’s well lit up.

We also asked about happiest memories of being at home.

Some people have no good memories to share, life has its difficulties day to day:

I don’t have any happy memories of living here – it’s a good house and I love my home – but my son became seriously ill when we moved here and although he is much better now I still worry about him. I really can’t look back and feel happy about the past.

I can’t think of anything as have got a lot of negatives in my head today.

I have no happy memories of living here.

Others do have happy memories. For one person it is the memory of “the day we won the pools!”.  Others remember good times spent with friends and family, sometimes at home, sometimes out and about.

Quite a lot of them - the Christmases we used to have when my mum and dad were alive. My dad was a miner and money was tight, but they made it extra special.

My foster carer took me to the theatre – there’s a lot of good memories there.

Meeting two new friends.

Having my grandchildren around the house.

My happiest memory is learning to play football at Easter Park and playing at the park next door.

My happiest memory is when my mum and dad was alive. I got out and about a lot more.

My pal’s hen night.

My gran and my auntie come along to see me every weekend. If I was ever no well they would always come along to see me, even if it was just a cold.

The first Christmas in the new house when the whole family came around for dinner before mum and dad split up – it was the only Christmas with dad and mum together.

A lot of happy memories – mostly when I was a kid running around with the neighbours.

Walking into the house and having a job.

Getting my living room done – changing it to my taste and tiling the bathroom myself.

Buying our first home and building it up, giving security for my family. Being able to give our son stability and seeing him grow up.

Moving in was a good memory.

Most people do feel safe in their homes. But others can feel fearful of people that visit them or live with them. Some people take steps to reduce risks of accidents.

Many contributors talked about the physical security of their home, some people do feel secure, while others would like to enhance security.

I’ve got a burglar alarm and a phone upstairs in case I need to call the police. – I’m no really scared of nothing.

Yes I do feel safe – because it has good locks on the doors and I have a phone.

There’s a security light at the rear.

Aye, because I keep my doors locked.

I would rather not be on the ground floor. I would feel safer with CCTV cameras in the area surrounding my house.

A more secure front door – those PVC doors are not secure – other than that the house is pretty safe.

Better lighting outside, with sensor lights. And more secure locks.

I feel perfectly safe but wouldn’t turn down a security alarm.

Several people tell us that having a dog (or a cat!) helps them feel safe.

My dog makes me feel safe because she lets you know when someone is coming to the door. Last night there was someone out the front talking at the gate – the dog was barking and growling. The dog’s the best thing I’ve ever done. She’s great company.

It’s real secure. It is because the dog’s mental. He’s a wee black Scottie.

My Rottwieler makes me feel safe.

The dog and cat help me feel safer.

A lot of people talk about feeling safe because others are around.

Yes, I feel safe knowing my brother is in the next room; knowing my neighbours are always there for you.

My phone, my dog, my husband and son help make me feel safe.

I have close family nearby.

If my daughter’s in the house I feel safe but not if I’m on my own because if there’s trouble in the street you don’t feel safe because you don’t know who could come knocking on the door. People on my street like my daughter; they wouldn’t let anything happen to her.

Yes, because of the people round about you like the next door neighbour – they’re there to help you.

My parents make me feel safe.

There’s more people in the house then there was before – there’s a stepfamily now.

In supported accommodation or sheltered housing staff are important in helping people feel safe.

You can lock yourself in your room but the staff have a key to get in.

There is always staff around. The staff doesn’t allow anyone heavily under the influence in.

It’s important to know that there’s somebody there to help you. A warden chaps on your door every day.

Going into new supported accommodation, one person feels safe:

But it’s new and strange. The staff are there to support you, I can go and talk about anything with them. I feel safe when staff listen along on the phone when I talk to my mum and dad on the phone… Also my flatmate makes me feel happy.

Sometimes it’s a person’s mental wellbeing that can make them worried more than the actual environment.

At times when I’ve been mentally unwell I’ve felt unsafe and threatened in my own home – but when I was hospitalised I didn’t feel safe there either – it was my state of mind rather than my environment.

People talk about accidents at home and preventing them.Two people talk about the dangers of having epileptic seizures:

When I was little I had an epileptic fit and fell in the fire. I burnt my arm. There’s a fire guard on it now.

I took an epileptic seizure one time and fell against the radiator and cracked my ribs. I got taken to the hospital and came home afterwards as I was OK. There’s nothing I can do to prevent my seizures.

A radiator was the cause of another injury as well:

When my daughter was two she fell off the couch and banged her face on the radiator.

Accidents can result from doing everyday things with young children.

The baby fell out of my hands when they were soapy.

Older people can be injured on poorly-maintained paths.

I’ve had minor falls, trips on loose paths and stones.

Some people are concerned about fires but report fire alarms being fitted.

Yes, my microwave blew up. I got new fire alarms fitted after that.

No. I’m safety conscious about plugs and chip pans and have smoke detectors and alarms. Fire is one of my fears so I’ve tried to make it as safe as possible.

The place has been rewired.

No. But others in my area have had fireworks through the letterbox.

Specific measures are reported to make homes safer for older people.

Rails were put in for my mother.

I had a bad fall in the last flat but in the new one I have an alarm that will call people to help – that makes me feel comfortable.

The carpets give me a psychological grip.

One person wants their private sector landlord to maintain their home and the systems in it to a safe standard.

I have problems with my gas central heating system which I have discussed withmy landlord but do not feel it has met a satisfactory conclusion. The system itself is outdated.

Violence or other threatening behaviour from family members and close neighbours is an issue for some people and profoundly affects feelings of safety at home.

Sometimes I feel safe and sometimes not – there’s relationship issues. So, yes I have felt unsafe at home due to relationship issues – I don’t want to go into detail.

The house has been broken into – I felt unsafe for a wee while after it.

I’m frightened of my dad coming to visit me. He will talk about stuff and talks nasty to people – he’d come to a review meeting once a month. I’d like my mum and my foster carer to visit though. When my dad’s got a drink in him he’s very aggressive to social workers and staff.

I keep my girls in the house when my ex is about. I found out after I left him that he’s an A list sex offender. But we feel safe in the house.

When my sons were about – most of the time they didn’t live in the house because of their drugs and their breaking into houses. They’d break into our house and plant stuff - drugs and stolen things. Many a time I’d get a call because my house was broken into. I just got to the end of my tether.

When I was younger, young folk would be standing outside shouting abuse at me. This made me feel scared…. Also my neighbour used to open a window and shout abuse. I got my window smashed in one place; there was glass all over my bed. One time my mum was attacked outside the house by some girls – it didn’t feel safe in that house with my mum and dad. We used to get a lot of hassle from young ones, throwing eggs, my dad used to have to call the police.

Although our discussions focused on being at home, the importance of immediate neighbours and activity in the street immediately outside the home impact greatly on feelings and experiences of being safe at home

People appreciate quiet neighbours.

I like that it’s nice and quiet.

There’s good neighbours – they’re quiet, they don’t mind if I have friends in, they’re quite understanding.

It’s a nice quiet street and there’s good neighbours.

I feel safe, mainly because of the area.

There’s no rowdy youths and laddies with their motorbikes.

For many people, good neighbours are people who are respect your privacy and “keep themselves to themselves”.

They’re good neighbours. They don’t do any anti-social behaviour. They’re friendly but not in your face. No wild parties or loud music.

They don’t encroach on your privacy.

For others, good neighbours are people who are social, good company and take time to get to know you. However some older residents have sensed a loss of connections with their neighbours.

My neighbour’s are really good. They are really friendly. When the fitba’ was on three of the neighbours came in. It was good because I liked having someone else in the house.

One of my neighbours comes in every Friday and plays cards.

They’re good in my block, they are friendly.

My neighbours are very friendly, very helpful. They’re chatty.

They’re lovely.

I don’t really know my neighbours now. They seem OK and are friendly enough. It’s not like it used to be though – I used to know the neighbours really well. We are the oldest people in the street and everyone else in the street seems very busy – I hardly ever see the neighbours in fact.

Some people don’t socialise much with their neighbours at all.

They’re old – there’s no interaction really. They don’t speak to us because we have a dog
and are young.

They’re all right. They’re never in.

Most neighbours are fine, although I don’t socialise with them.

People do appreciate having neighbours that are there to help out when they’re needed.

I’ve got good neighbours – they’re friendly enough – if such and such happens then they are they to help.

They’re all right…. I could approach them if there’s any problems.

The neighbours are good to me.

They’re good neighbours – always ready to help you.

But some neighbours can cause problems at times:

My block is half empty because it is due to be knocked down.  But the neighbours I have got left are not bad apart from when they are drinking.

I have problems from time to time with noise from dogs barking all day and dog dirt in shared green.

A few of my neighbours are OK, but some are not very friendly, they’re loud and annoying.

Feeling safe at home often depends a lot on the neighbourhood and the experience or fear of crime and violence.

I don’t really feel safe because of the fear that someone may break in. Every house in this street has been broken into – including ours – more than once.

Yeah and no – a bit of both. There can be trouble in my street.

Yes coz there is no nutters running about up and down the street.

I feel safe in the house. But outside the house, in the front, I don’t feel safe – due to damage to property by children in the area. I worry if I say anything they will come back and damage my car.

I don’t feel safe when there’s a riot going on – samurai swords and all – but safe otherwise.

When I hear people outside being drunk and aggressive I get scared of being alone in my house.

It’s very bad at this time of year with fireworks. It starts now and goes on for ages. We have to cover our letterbox so they can’t put fireworks through.

There was a situation where a neighbour was in the street shouting and threatening others.

Others feel safe when they know police are around but recognise the challenges they face.

The police patrol this street every two nights because of the drug dealer – and there’s people drinking on the wall. But the dealer doesn’t bother us.

Move the drug dealers and other criminals away from our area. The police make no difference to the way young people and children behave. Police have no power.

For many of our participants reducing trouble and anti social behaviour in the neighbourhood would help make them feel safer in their homes.

Make the area safer for people to live in – stop all anti-social behaviour.

Contributors told us about help or support they get in the home; either for themselves or someone else in their home.

Giving people someone to talk to and helping get people out in to the neighbourhood helps reduce isolation.

The support workers enable me to go out and my Community Psychiatric Nurse helps me deal with my feelings – together this helps me feel safer in my own home.

Yes. It’s sheltered accommodation – they do cleaning and arranging and cooking meals. I do some myself but they just give a hand – they’ll take you out on set mornings, like for shopping. I don’t feel so isolated. I feel safer leaving the house when I’m with someone

Having trust in support workers because they will be confidential can be important.

I feel that I can speak to staff and they won’t say anything to other residents.

Some people rely on a lot of support, so having good relationships with workers is important.

I have twenty-four hour live-in supported accommodation. The staff are there to support me all the way – I’ll need a lot of support. They’re helping me get moved in. I get on well with one.

There is one member of staff that stays overnight.

Some people value their independence, others recognise that help can reduce but should still be available if required:

I can get help if I need it – you just go to the warden – she’ll get help like an ambulance or anything like that.

We used to have social workers and a psychiatrist but we don’t need them now. That’s all passed – but they’re always on the end of the phone though. When I needed help and support everyone was there for me – now I just phone them when I need to.

People in the family can be also an important source of support.

My brother cares for me full time and my sister helps out as well. My brother is the live-in carer. My uncle comes along every week too. He’s a good support. We play cards. If I didn’t have my brother and sister I wouldn’t be able to get out and about anywhere. It shows that they care because they do things that I want to do.

Some carers report they get professional support for themselves or for people they care for. Getting actively involved in rights groups and getting mutual support from other carers is helpful.

I don’t get help for me but I get support from Fife Families Support staff to help me with caring for my son.

The best thing is being able to get involved with groups that are trying to make things better for people. Meeting up with other carers is also a benefit – someone to talk to about how things are.

We asked people if they would like more help or support at home.

Some people identify the need for more help with getting out and about, particularly so they don’t have to rely on people in their family.

I would like more friends around me where I stay. I’d like to go and visit them nearby and be able to have more independence. That way I’m not relying on my sister taking me. I’d be able to walk a few doors along by myself and I’d feel a bit more independent.

People of all ages, but particularly older people, would like help with cleaning.

I would like to have a cleaner which I could arrange privately. This is because of my physical health problems.

Just to tidy up, sweep the carpets and wash up that would be good.

I’d like a lady to clean the house.

I find it hard to clean my windows.

I would like some help with cleaning.

Some could use help to get through the bureaucracy involved in getting help and support in place.

I could benefit from help or support to adapt the house to meet my needs. But I find the rules and regulations are too strict and do not meet my needs.

People want to be as independent as possible, to have just the right amount of support. Having support available in a flexible way is good.

Years ago I didn’t have a lot of support at home and used to have a lot of hospital admissions. Now I feel I have the right level of support, which is probably why I feel so safe at home, and also because it’s flexible, I don’t think more support would be helpful – I’ve just the right balance to help me to be independent without being suffocated.

They need to let me do things on my own – I don’t want them to do things for me. In the morning I can make my own breakfast.

If the arthritis got bad I’d like help with cleaning – but I’d rather do it myself, keep myself mobile.

What implications are there for regeneration activity – either in terms of policy or practice of service providers – from our conversations about being safe at home? Following our established pattern of reporting back we now pose key questions for the agencies managing regeneration activity based on what local people have told us.

Being in your own space: Does regeneration activity:

  • Have a concern and interest in helping tenants build a sense of belonging in their own home?
  • Consider home making a relevant regeneration activity? In particular, how are young or new tenants supported to think about and manage their house as a home? 

Making the most of external spaces: Does regeneration activity:

  • Mean that outside spaces – front and back gardens, shared pathways, green spaces between buildings – are well maintained and well lit?
  • Consider how agencies support residents to look after their own and shared spaces – and enforce standards where necessary?

Enhancing security and safety: Does regeneration activity:

  • Ensure that stairways and streets are well lit?
  • Ensure that paths and fences are safe and maintained?
  • Help tenants to safety check their home and consider the standard of alarms, locks, doors, windows, heating systems, stairways, kitchen equipment, lighting – and where there are shortfalls in terms of safety or security is help and support available to make these things right?
  • Make help and support available in the private rented sector?

Smarter services: Does regeneration activity:

  • Support the development and provision of services which are personalised, which support independence whilst being flexible and responsive enough to meet changing needs?

Protecting people from violence and abuse: Does regeneration activity:

  • Provide clear messages to people that every Fife resident has the right to be safe in their own home?
  • Provide information about what help and support is available if people are fearful of, or have experiences of, violence in the home?
  • Ensure that there are integrated and best practice responses to reports of, or knowledge of, violence in the home?
  • Consider and respond to the needs of vulnerable individuals or families who are targeted by others?

Anti social behaviour: Does regeneration activity:

  • Tackle anti-social behaviour in terms of policy and effective action?

Connecting people: Does regeneration activity:

  • Help connect people to each other and to services?
  • Understand and support carers both individually and in terms of support for carers groups?
  • Help keep long-standing connections between people when they need to move away from established relationships with friends, family or neighbours, say to supported accommodation?
  • Help reduce the social isolation experienced by some people in the community?
  • Help Fife residents have social contact with another person on a daily basis if that is what they want and need?
  • Build notions of neighbourliness or the ‘good’ neighbour?

Previous study questions have also touched on the issues raised in this question. For example:

  • for more on the importance of Being Connected go HERE
  • for more on the importance of Helping Professionals go HERE

All aspects of work on Community Safety in Fife are reported online HERE

At the above link you can get to more information about any of the following issues:

  • Anti social behaviour
  • Child protection
  • Criminal justice and the law
  • Domestic and sexual abuse
  • Fire safety
  • Home safety and security
  • Personal safety
  • Road safety
  • Support for victims

There is a report on the national evaluation of community wardens schemes on the Scottish Government site HERE

A Fife community safety update is published regularly. Go HERE

A document from Fife Community Safety Partnership outlining key achievements from 2003 to 2007 and which highlights future work from 2007 onwards is available HERE

The Violence Reduction Unit is at and has produced a 10 year plan which sets out a vision for areas that need to be addressed to support a quest to improve the quality of life for people in Scotland by reducing violence in our society.