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Hands off our Homeless.

 

The murky Glasgow Action Group reared its ugly head again yesterday to demand the council “tidy the place up” and get rid of the homeless from Glasgow city-centre.

 

The group is led by the multi-millionaire James Mortimer and his wealthy cohorts including Donald McLeod, the owner of the Cathouse and Garage, and Kevin Maguire, owner of the Metropolitan. They exist solely to drive beggars and rough-sleepers off our streets and maximise the profits from their own businesses.

 

Yesterday they held an emergency meeting and used their influence to have a representative from Police Scotland in attendance. Afterwards Mortimer spoke to Glasgow Live and urged the council tidy up the city centre and moaned that they don’t listen to his demands.

 

He again stated that his group have given away millions to charity in the past. That sort of cheap public relations tells you everything and should have died with Jimmy Saville.

 

The Glasgow Action Group do not represent Glasgow or her people. The reason the council are not driving the homeless out of the city centre were explained to them weeks back by the Poverty Alliance, Shelter Scotland and Glasgow Homeless Network but they don’t seem to want to listen.

 

We all want solutions to the homeless crisis but criminalising them is not the way forward.

 

The Glasgow Action Group tried to dance around the issue of criminalisation in the past and have never came out and explicitly said this is their intention but make no mistake this is what they are after. It is implicit in everything they have said on this subject since they first started talking in September.

 

Speaking to Glasgow Live yesterday Mortimer said: “The First Minister and Susan Aitken need to get together and give people the rights to sort this out. It’s got to come from them. Police hands, everybody, they’re all tied up. They don’t move them.

 

“Staff are locked in, can’t get out. They can’t get into their work because people are sleeping in doorways.

 

“We’re supposed to be Glasgow’s Style Mile. We’re kidding ourselves on.”

 

Despite their spin it is easy to see what they are all about. He wants the police to move on rough sleepers and beggars and to sweep the issue under the carpet in order for businesses to profit from this Style Mile veneer.

 

 

It was also suggested at their meeting that rough-sleepers and beggars were previously moved on during the Commonwealth Games. This chimes in with what we know and it is utterly shameful.

 

The Commonwealth Games were an exercise in gentrification and ordinary Glaswegians were ostracised, or worse as the people of Dalmarnock will attest, but to now have this Action Group crowing about how great it was that the homeless were hidden away is especially galling to read.

 

People should not be mistaken for one second that this group of individuals are motivated by anything other than their own profit margins. They already knew – and were reminded weeks back – that there already exists a working group made up of members of the police, third sector and council that seeks to solve this issue, but they chose to scupper all that good work and go alone with this cheap publicity campaign.

 

We urge all you Glaswegians not to buy into it and to continue on with your kindness to the most needy among us.

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No More Jackets!

 

Donations keep pouring in and we have had to take the decision to end our appeal and refuse anymore offers of clothing.

 

We only have so much space and there are only so any homeless people in Glasgow so we will kindly have to refuse any offers of help in the immediate future. This is becoming an increasingly bigger problem but is testament to the kindness of Glaswegians.

 

Our pals at Help 4 The Homeless already released a statement a few days ago asking for no more clothing for the time being.

 

A lot of awareness has been created around homelessness in the past five years or so and donations of clothing and offers to volunteer from the general public are constant. If it were down to the will of the people there would be nobody on our streets but sadly the policy makers don’t share the same spirit.

 

Perhaps the best way the public can help in the immediate future is to demand action politically. David Cameron told us about his Big Society of foodbanks and voluntary work that would get Britain out of austerity.

 

Now they tell us we are out of austerity but they have decimated our welfare state and public sector and are doing nothing to help us recover. People do make Glasgow but there is only so much we can do without the political will to change.

 

We’ll be back on the streets this week handing out your kind donations regardless.

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Thanks to One and All.

 

Our winter jacket collection last weekend was a resounding success and we took in enough to last us at least a year.

 

As we have mentioned already this was organised by Michelle, who passed away last month, so making sure the collection went well was very important to us all.

 

The jackets will be distributed to rough-sleepers and others in need and we would like to relay our thanks to each and everyone of you who helped us help others.

 

 

In fact we took in so much we didn’t have the storage space for it all and we gave a big bundle of clothing to our pal Jason at Safestore who is going to ration it our to Women’s Aid among others.

 

Last weekend was also the Celtic sleepout. We were given the used sleeping bags and mats afterwards and want to thank those involved for their help.

 

The Green Brigade also made a donation of £500 to our group after their recent food drive. The lads have been kind to us over the years so, again, we want to extend our appreciation.

Our buddies at St Roch’s Juniors also provided a collection point for the collection and we were given a huge amount from the guys at the Candy.

 

We really were taken aback by your generosity and want you all to know we could not operate without such kindness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How We Roll

 

Ahead of our winter jacket collection this weekend we thought we would take the chance to give you all a brief run down on how we operate.

 

As you probably know we visit the soup kitchens at Cadogan Street and look for rough sleepers and other vulnerable people who need help with clothing, sleeping bags and toiletries.

 

Winter jackets and trainers are the staple items we rely on and hand out from our van in troves most weeks to our friends on the streets. Due to the cost of both we hold appeals and ask the public to donate old or new items.

 

We also hand out a lot of sleeping bags and get these donated after the charitable sleep outs that have become popular. Underwear, gloves, hats, jeans, jogging bottoms, hooded tops and toiletries we buy in new.

 

With some of the items we buy in like underwear and toiletries it is obviously necessary to do so but with the clothing items listed above we do it to avoid being overwhelmed.

 

Donations of used clothing are becoming problematic within charitable circles in Glasgow. So much has been donated that a few groups have had to take to renting out storage space to hold it.

 

Some of it is useful but a lot of it is junk that people simply wanted out of their homes. More to the point it is the abundance of it and for the amount of homeless people in Glasgow the donations of used clothing have far exceeded the need.

 

On the streets we genuinely cannot give it away and try to not take donations of used clothing anymore so that is why we buy the items we sometimes need like jeans and hooded tops.

 

We are constantly approached on social media and that is testament to the public’s charitable spirit amidst the austerity of recent years.

 

A familiar request is the offer to come aboard and volunteer. Whilst we are extremely grateful for the approaches to come aboard, we are a very small team and have plenty people lined up should we ever need them.

 

We are very grateful to all our donors, like young Amy Don pictured below, and they help us to operate independently. Other groups who have charitable status and receive the funding that brings from grants may feel hamstrung by having to keep the authorities onside, but we don’t have that problem and operate how we see fit only.

 

 

For instance, you will never read the Simon Community or the City Mission continually highlight the 47 people who died on our streets last year in fear of embarrassing the authorities who fund them.

 

Nor would you ever see us shun a homeless person because the have fallen afoul of the council’s rulebook.

 

Unlike them we don’t get salaries and do our thing purely on a voluntary basis. Our volunteers are with us purely because of their collective spirit.

 

 

A lot of the bigger groups with charitable status/big funding approach us asking them to supply them with sleeping bags and the like and whilst we sometimes help, we are also getting wiser and asking what they are doing with their own funds.

 

We’ve no desire to be part of the homeless industry which sees millions of pounds wasted in Glasgow and Scotland every year on hairbrained projects, perpetual research, exorbitant salaries and conferences and junkets.

 

As always stated, we are just a small group bringing relief to the homeless, but we also take a lot of pride in exposing those in authority who seem incapable of finding solutions.

 

Whilst the carnage and misery continue The Invisibles are constantly evolving. In our early days we operated almost entirely by supplying other groups, but we learned that running around after others was not getting anyone anywhere. Our recently fallen Volunteer McFarlane then had the vision to take the group from that to the street group we are today, operating out of Cadogan Street every Wednesday night.

 

Today we continue moving forward – one of our anonymous donors we mentioned on these pages recently has given us a significant sum, and after a lot of deliberation we have decided upon a new project that will be announced next week all going well.

 

We will continue at Cadogan Street, finding rough sleepers and other vulnerable folk and bringing a little relief to their lives, but we also hope to fill another void with our new project too.

 

We would also like to thank MTG Legal Services for their recent donation.

 

Tune in next week to read about our new venture.

 

 

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Our Man on the Ground.

One of our longest standing volunteers knows the homeless industry inside out having worked alongside the policy makers and people on the ground. He is bringing his unique perspective to these pages with the occasional blog. Here is his first instalment on the announcement by a new homeless alliance that they intend to end homelessness: 

 

 

 

Spare us your End Homelessness sound-bite and help those in need now! 

 

After noting, with great personal confusion, our governments at both local and national level trumpeting their big conversation on homelessness I let out a knowing sigh. The Alliance I believe they’re calling this latest cobbled together approach to “ending homelessness”. I challenge any person or agency to advise me as to how they will Implement this ridiculous statement?

 

Can they, in a timely manner, for example, help someone fleeing a violent relationship and provide a tenancy for her and the kids? What about young person leaving care or even prison?

 

A sleeping bag from our crisis agency is not the answer. In fact there is no perfect answer, no one size saves all package. Sound bites and bluster are not required here. Realistic, honest and practicable suggestions from everyone are.

 

See we’ve been here before. I’ve shaken the hands of the grey suited politricksians as they smugly pontificated on the solutions they dreamt up how they could ‘fix it’. Call me cynical but I didn’t buy it.

 

The Homelessness (Scotland) Act 2003 became law back then with a typical political get out clause. This Act stated clearly and without any misunderstanding that all ‘unintentionally’ homeless people were entitled to settled accommodation by 2012. But is it clear? I thought at the time it was a fudge and I still think the same. Why? Who defines the intention?

 

I’ve heard it all before going back decades here, and here and once believed it when I was in amongst it all. Now I am wiser.

 

Law to ‘end’ homelessness indeed. What did this mean? Can law end the personal suffering when ‘ homeless’ people are living under curfew in private B&Bs? Can law end the fear or terror of living in private hostels?

 

What about those dumped into a Temporary Furnished Flat without support. The law in it’s broad strokes provides a roof in these cases, not much else. If as a society we’re going to have a conversation about homelessness then let’s bin the BS and start with meaningful goals.

 

I was born on the banks of the Clyde, a son of Mother Glasgow. We have rarely sat back and accepted Injustice. Stand up people, we must look after each other.

 

Why create false impressions in such an emotive area of real suffering?

How many people with lived homelessness were involved in The Alliance and it’s conversations?

And what on Earth happened to us?