Research from Street Soccer Scotland found the two-thirds of Scots are in fear of talking to someone who is sleeping rough
NEW RESEARCH has found that that two-thirds of Scots say that they would never stop to speak to a homeless person in the street.
Findings from Street Soccer Scotland revealed that 41 per cent of people were ‘in fear’ of stopping to speak to rough sleepers.
David Duke, founder and chief executive of Street Soccer Scotland, said: “Having experienced homelessness I know what it’s like to spend your days alone, with no one to speak to. I also know the difference that having someone to talk to can make when you’ve lost all hope.
“I’m really shocked at the number of people who say they don’t stop to speak to people who are homeless, and especially by the number who say they’re afraid to.
“I’m really shocked at the number of people who say they don’t stop to speak to people who are homeless, and especially by the number who say they’re afraid to.” David Duke
“Instead of sympathy, they’re feeling fear, and we have to ask why, and how we can change their perceptions.”
According to Street Soccer Scotland – which was commissioned to look into the attitude of Scottish people towards those who are sleeping rough – people aged between 16 and 24 are least likely to speak to someone who is forced to sleep rough, with only a quarter saying that they would do so. Around 48 per cent of 16 and 24 year olds said they would be afraid to speak to a homeless person.
The report also found that the older age group is less likely to be anxious about speaking to homeless people, although a substantial number – 38 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 and 43 per cent of those aged over 65 – still said they would be fearful of talking to a rough sleeper.
It is estimated that around 5,000 people are sleeping rough on the streets of Scotland every year. The Street Soccer Scotland research was based on a sample size of 1,083 respondents using the ScotPulse online research panel, and Duke – who also sits on the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group set up by the Scottish Government – is being advised by Charlotte Street Partners as part of his policy research on how to change perceptions of homelessness and the language used in association with it.
“The lack of dignity afforded to people experiencing homelessness, the prejudice and stigma that comes with what is the worst time of your life, is holding our society back. We need to do more to change that.” David Duke
Duke said: “Today in Scotland, great strides are being made to eradicate homelessness with progressive laws and a willing government. However, unfortunately, some things have stayed exactly the same.
“The lack of dignity afforded to people experiencing homelessness, the prejudice and stigma that comes with what is the worst time of your life, is holding our society back. We need to do more to change that.”
Last year, just under 10,000 homelessness applications were from people aged between 16 and 24 years old.
According to the Scottish Government, homelessness applications have fallen in recent years due to the government’s person-centred approach to housing options and preventing homelessness.
“Involving people who have experienced homelessness is also important in achieving the Action Group’s longer-term objectives to eradicating rough sleeping and transforming temporary accommodation.” Kevin Stewart
Under Scottish legislation, everyone who has been assessed by their local authority to be homeless has a right to temporary accommodation.
Scottish Government Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Tackling and preventing homelessness throughout Scotland remains a key priority for the Scottish Government. The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group will shortly produce recommendations on how we can minimise rough sleeping this winter, and exploring public perception of rough sleeping is a key part of the group’s work.
“Involving people who have experienced homelessness is also important in achieving the Action Group’s longer-term objectives to eradicating rough sleeping and transforming temporary accommodation. We have established a £50m Ending Homelessness Together Fund to drive change and improvement.”
Picture courtesy of Richmond Fellowship
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