Charities & @scotgov pledge to redouble efforts over homelessness scourge

15/05/2017
Nathanael Williams

As revelations shock the nation, the Scottish Government joins charities to end the homeless tragedy for good

SCOTLAND’S CHARITIES AND GOVERNMENT have pledged to increase efforts to wipe out homelessness in the nation as new revelations exposed that one person a week dies on Glasgow’s streets from sleeping out in the open.

Kevin Stewart MSP told an audience today (Monday 15 May) that the Scottish Government would cooperate fully with charities such as Crisis Scotland to build a plan to end homelessness in Scotland for good.

This pledge was also backed by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, as Stewart gave an address to the 50th anniversary conference of the national homelessness charity called ‘Ending Homelessness; Working Together to Think Differently’, in Glasgow.

Figures obtained by the Sunday Herald from Glasgow City Council via a freedom of information (FOI) request revealed that at least 39 homeless people died in the city over 10 months.

Crisis Scotland has proposed a using a strategy called Housing First, applied in developed in the US, Canada, Austria, Japan and Finland, which aims to provide immediate access to permanent housing for homeless people often rejected by the private sector.

“We want a future where we’re no longer needed, where no one has to suffer homelessness because they can’t find a place to live.” Jon Sparkes

Ahead of the event Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “This year, Crisis marks its 50th anniversary, but this is by no means cause for celebration. The reason we’re still here, is because we’re still needed. Thousands of people are sleeping on Scotland’s streets, on sofas and are being left for too long in unsuitable temporary accommodation. 

“We want a future where we’re no longer needed, where no one has to suffer homelessness because they can’t find a place to live. Scotland already has some of the most progressive, human-rights based legislation on homelessness in the world, but we know there’s more to be done. Over the coming year we’ll be bringing together the people, evidence and resources to build on that, and to help make our vision a reality. We know we can’t do this alone, but we’re ready for the challenge, and I hope that in 50 years’ time Crisis – and homelessness – will have been consigned to the history books.”

“That is why I’ll be announcing later today that we’ll be strengthening the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group by bringing in new members and involving Ministers from across Government to ensure a joined up approach to homelessness at both a national and local level.” Kevin Stewart MSP

Around 54,000 people went to their local council for help with homelessness every year in Scotland, while roughly 660 people sleep rough on a typical night.

But Crisis also seeks to reform the way homelessness is defined as often between two of three charities or local councils the definition will change meaning many people fall through the cracks. This approach would be a lot more preventative not only focusing on “no one sleeping rough or in shelters” but also those living in dangerous and insecure accommodation.

These people are one or a few steps away at serious risk and exposure to homelessness. 

Sweden’s definition of homelessness and legal obligations

Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for Local Government and Housing, said: “We have some of the strongest rights for homeless people in the world and good progress is being made nationally, with a fall in the number of homeless applications.  

“But there is more to do to increase the pace of change across the country. It is important we work closely with all of our partners, not just in housing but in other areas such as health, to address the underlying causes of homelessness. The work of Crisis staff and volunteers is valued by this government and therefore it’s vital we use that frontline experience to shape the future direction of homelessness policy in this country.

“That is why I’ll be announcing later today that we’ll be strengthening the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group by bringing in new members and involving Ministers from across Government to ensure a joined up approach to homelessness at both a national and local level. The Group will play a leading role in responding to the recommendations of Crisis’s Commission.”

Picture courtesy of maeve mcgoldrick‏

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