A SERVICE that helped generate more than £5million in benefits for Govanhill residents is to expand.

Govanhill Housing Association's Welfare Rights Service has been given two funding awards that will allow it to found a Welfare Hub.

Currently the service generates an extra £500,000 to £750,000 each year for locals - with just two staff members.

The new Hub will have seven staff and be open to all Govanhill residents, not just housing association tenants.

Paul McCormack, Welfare Rights Advisor, said: "Govanhill Housing Association's Welfare Rights Service has generated between £500,000 and £750,000 in additional state benefits for tenants every year.

"With the creation of the Welfare Hub and five new staff in post, we are confident we have the ability to increase that figure substantially.

The Welfare Rights Service was set up in 2006 and supported tenants to make sure they were being given the correct benefits.

Now, with £198,000 from the Big Lottery and £118,000 from the Scottish Government, the service will have a second Welfare Rights Officer, three Welfare Rights Assistants and a multi-lingual receptionist.

Two days a week an Energy Advice Worker from environment charity South Seeds will also be on hand to advise about minimising energy costs.

Donald McFadden is a Govanhill Housing Association tenant and turned to the service for help as a full time carer for his severely disabled brother, Patrick.

Thanks to help from Paul, Patrick and Donald were able to claim support they did not know they were entitled to and are now £60 a week better off.

Donald, 55, said: "How many other people are unaware about what they should be claiming? I just didn't know what I was entitled to.

Anyone who lives in Govanhill can access the Hub at 79 Coplaw Street.

John McLardie, Chairman of Govanhill Housing Association, added: "We are delighted we can support our tenants and the whole community in Govanhill and tackle the impact of Welfare Reform."

catriona.stewart@ eveningtimes.co.uk