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Come watch our boys in the Refuweegee Cup Final this Sunday!

Not only do we have our own football team but they play this Sunday in a cup final.

Glasgow Wednesday Football Club were created by one our volunteer’s son to promote our group and help to raise more awareness about homelessness in Glasgow.

They have just recently secured a solid mid-table finish in the league and this Sunday will be closing out their season against Kelvin Thistle in the inaugural Refuweegee Cup Final.

Kick-off is 12 noon on Sunday 2nd June at New Tinto Park and entry is free.

The teams have met twice in the league this season, with a 2-2 draw on Thistle’s patch in November and a tight 3-2 Thistle win earlier this spring on Wednesday’s ground so it promises to be a good game of football.

The guys help us with donations and appeals and are a great bunch so we would urge anyone who can to go along and cheer them on to victory.

We hear the boy McFarlane is a player and seeing him in action will be worth the journey alone …

See you all Sunday!

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The Michelle McFarlane Award

After almost a year of deliberation The Invisibles are very pleased to announce the launch of The Michelle McFarlane Award.

Working alongside our new partners, Emmaus Glasgow and Turning Point Scotland, we will award grants to people recovering from homelessness in Glasgow.

Creating a new service and making a tangible difference to people’s lives was of upmost importance in the process so we looked long and hard to find somewhere we could make an impact on people’s lives.

During our research it was soon apparent that a lot of charity exists to help people living in crisis but for those trying to move on there is not really a lot there. Austerity has battered the welfare state to the point that literally no funding exists from the DWP for people moving out of homeless accommodation and into their own home.

They can apply to their local authority for essential items, but people are being given mattresses with no bed frame, or carpets for only one room, and left pretty much in squalor. It is difficult for most of us to empathise with the gravity of someone starting again from nothing and recovering even the most basic day-to-day items.

Once we decided this was an area, we wanted to look into we realised that actually finding genuine candidates might be difficult. It was decided to look toward some of the bigger charities who deal with people moving on with their lives and found two partners to work with initially.

Turning Point Scotland deal with thousands of people every year who live in temporary furnished flats (TFFs). These are people living in a scatter flat who have previously been on the streets, homeless hostels and are now waiting on their permanent accommodation.

We decided we must approach Turning Point because nobody else has the access or knowledge of people moving into their own accommodation. They gladly agreed to work alongside us to identify people who would be most in need of our help to provide much needed items for people’s new homes, like white goods or furniture.

Emmaus Glasgow are friends of ours who work down at Cadogan Street. They run their own unique unit in the north of Glasgow with people recovering from homelessness working there to earn their keep.

Unlike Turning Point, they will be using the awards differently for things like driving lessons or work-related training courses to try and give their users that extra little chance of succeeding when they are ready to move on from the facility.

As well as Turning Point and Emmaus we will consider award to individuals we know from the street and will hopefully be looking for other partners as the project evolves.

The genesis of the idea was with our best volunteer, Michelle McFarlane, who sadly passed away in October of last year and the scheme will be named in her honour. We hope it to be a project worthy of her name.

Michelle took in the original donation that is funding the first year of our project and then set-up early meetings to discuss ideas.

We had further meetings late last year and only reached a consensus early this year but are happy this is a valuable cause. Creating this legacy for Michelle is something that means a lot to each and every one of us, so we hope to watch it grow.

Refusing to sit back and an insistence on keeping on moving was what made Michelle different from most. It was she who drove us onto the streets five years back when there were very few groups out there in Glasgow and she instigated this new project too.

We are only just recovering from her death and as a group we floundered for a few months. In a family dynamic when someone passes, they are not replaced, and this is how it has gone with Michelle’s passing in our group. There is a void that will never be filled but, like a family, we are back getting on with it and all chipping in to carry on her work.

Billy Reid is another respected volunteer in our group and knew Michelle better than most. He said: “We are delighted to be getting this off the ground and think it has the potential to grow because the need badly exists.

“Michelle was keen to get a new service operating that would help the lives of the homeless in Glasgow and was at the first few meetings earlier last year spearheading the early ideas.

“We have already stepped up our outreach operation this year and are doing much more street work but that is different and after a lot of discussion we feel like we have found something else that will make a real difference to folk’s lives with the Michelle McFarlance Award.”

The scheme is already up and running and we will be updating our website in the coming months to detail some of the grants bestowed.

For information on how to donate to The Invisibles visit our Twitter or Facebook.

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Reaching out to those who need us.

 

In recent weeks we have started an outreach operation and have moved onto the streets in search of rough-sleepers due to decreasing numbers at Cadogan Street.

 

Cadogan Street has been our base for a number of years now and with a few other homeless services nearby it seemed to be the best place to find rough-sleepers. However, in recent times there just haven’t been the same numbers coming along and sometimes we can wait weeks before we see a genuine rough-sleeper.

 

That is not to say those who do come down to Cadogan Street are not genuine. Everyone who comes down there looking for help is vulnerable and we understand they now rely on us and we have a duty of care to them. We will always have a presence there but if we can help more people by spending some time out on the streets looking for people then that is what we intend to do.

 

We are explicitly a group who are there to help the homeless of Glasgow and we didn’t really feel like that is what we were achieving and led by two of our volunteers, Robert and Davie, we have taken to the streets in recent weeks to find those poor souls who we know are sleeping on the cold pavement every night.

 

It has been a learning process and started with a couple of the guys just taking to the streets with a few bags of underwear and toiletries. We have been taking the van out most recently and have been surprised by just how much of our stock we have been able to hand out.

 

 

As you all can probably guess it absolute chaos out there on the streets. For all we are told Scotland is a progressive wee country there is nothing forward thinking about our polices in helping rough-sleepers.

 

In England and Wales there is a system in place for the public to phone in and inform the local services of any rough sleepers. Here we have nothing like that and in fact our man Robert was approached by the police last week on Buchanan Street and asked if they could use our phone number to give out to people phoning them to report rough-sleepers!

 

We would like to help the state with this but we don’t think a small band of volunteers giving up their time should be solely responsible for the destiny of Glasgow’s rough-sleepers. Sure, we can offer a sleeping bag, clothing or toiletries to try and help ease their suffering but we can’t offer accommodation or the professional after-care and support these people need.

 

Our man Robert was standing outside this tent on Buchanan Street when the police officer approached him.

 

The outreach work is using up a lot of our stock and helping us reach more people. It will augment other plans we have for expanding our operation in the near future.

 

In the past year or so we are lucky to have received some fairly large donations and have held a numbers of meeting discussing possible projects.

 

We’ve something in mind and are almost at the stage of finalising the idea. When we have signed off on it with prospective partners we will post the news on these pages!

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We thank the Celtic Foundation for carrying on the good work of Walfrid and co.

 

“A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed.”

 

The above statement was released after a meeting at St Mary’s Church Hall in the Calton on the 6th of November 1887 during which Celtic Football Club was officially created.

 

Today, the club continues on looking after the most marginalsed citizens of Glasgow through the Celtic Foundation and we would like to thank them for another donation to our group as part of their 2018 Christmas Appeal.

 

The kind donation of £5,000 will help us to look after our friends on the streets and will also go toward new projects we are currently discussing.

 

The Invisibles would not be able to operate in the manner we do without the help the Celtic Foundation have given us over the years.

 

Previously they helped us raise funds to buy our van and last year they directed an anonymous donor our way who handed us a very significant sum of money. And, every year they also give us all the leftover sleeping bags from their Sleep Out for us to hand out on the streets.

 

Our Dermot at last year’s Sleep Out at Celtic Park, pictured with some of the guys from the Foundation. 

 

Added to that they have also liaised with us to get homeless people off the streets and up to Celtic Park to take part in training programmes and they hold a lunch at the stadium for the homeless every year.

 

From everyone in our group we would like to say a big thank you to the Celtic Foundation. They should be proud of themselves for carrying on the charitable ethos Brother Walfrid envisioned for the club all those years ago.

 

Hail Hail!

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Merry Christmas and Thanks to Everyone.

 

Before we start we would like to point out that whilst the Winter Shelter has just opened in the LHM there are still lots of rough-sleepers, like the person above, choosing not to use the facility and sleeping out on our freezing streets instead.

 

All we hear are plans and pledges to tackle homelessness but as far as we can see nothing is changing on the ground.

 

Meanwhile, The Invisibles would like to thank the kind citizens of Glasgow and beyond for all your help throughout the year.

 

To stay independent, we do not bid for government or council funding, so we rely on your help and we could not operate without it.

 

For instance, we handed out some Christmas parcels to our friends on the street in the week past and we were able to do so only thanks to generous donations from three different sources.

 

To that end we would like to thank: Karen and Kate, pictured below with their donation at our store, from the Alison Lea Medical Centre in East Kilbride, Claire and Debbie from Babcock Rail and another lady Lesley dropped by some items too.

 

The Green Brigade are another group who we owe our gratitude too. After their recent food drive, we were lucky enough to receive another generous cash donation from the guys. This is testament to their social fibre and they are no ordinary crowd of football supporters.

 

 

One of our men, Robert, works in the city-centre and as well as his voluntary duties he is always active and helping our friends on the street as he goes to and from work. His colleagues at the Glasgow Dental Centre also help too and we’d like to extend our thanks to them all for their help with our winter jacket and reverse calendar appeals. In particular Heather, Caryn-Ann, Katrina, Christine, Leeaane, Alan, Aileen, Dora, Irene and Trish have all been a big help and we can only hope they continue to do good things next year.

 

 

Finally, the boys at Mill United Colts 2005s decided to help the homeless this Christmas and donated some items to us to distribute on the street. Thanks lads!

 

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Peak Homelessness at Sleep Out in the Park.

The homeless industry gets its coffers filled by donations from the public. 

 

This weekend past was peak homelessness as the annual Sleep Out in the Park event took place in four cities across Scotland.

 

Last year we were told that they raised £4 million to go towards tackling, or ending, homelessness. This year at least the the same will be raised again and that can be added to the lump sum of £10 million Nicola Sturgeon promised every year for the next five years

 

But what are they doing to tackle homelessness? Building homes? Or reopening the council owned hostels they closed?

 

Not as far as we can see. Social Bite, who run the Sleep Outs, are building homeless villages and funding yet more research into homelessness.

 

Social Bite are new and they are raising a lot of awareness about the issue but the problem is they are doing nothing radical and are working alongside the same people who got us in this mess in the first place.

 

It seems straight forward to most people – to tackle homelessness then you must build homes to end the housing crisis and thereafter have proper facilities for those rough-sleepers with complex addiction and mental health issues.

 

What we don’t really need is more research, like this piece funded by Social Bite about ill suited temporary accommodation.

 

We agree that temporary flats are damaging. But it should also be pointed out that the use of temporary furnished flats  (TFFs) came from the ‘end homelessness’ policy makers and academics that decided upon using them in the first place.

 

It was they who decided to end the old system and stop using council owned homeless hostels and replace them with the private B&Bs and TFFs that remain today.

 

Now admittedly the hostels were dens of iniquity where some people became institutionalised but rather than close them down, they should have been reinvested in by improving the services, rather than shutting them down.

 

The present system of admitting people with massive complex issues into private B&Bs or hostels where there is no support whatsoever is one of the reasons why we are seeing so many people on the streets.

 

After a short spell in the B&B they are moved into a TFF. These are usually almost always literal miles away from the area they became homeless. Rent is sky high because the council have to rent them from private associations and then furnish them so users cannot go out and work.

 

Leaving them to a rather miserable existence until the council or a housing association decide to give them their own accommodation.

 

Many with complex needs prefer to tough it out on the streets than go through the above.

 

 

B&Bs are TFFs also both come at a massive cost to the housing benefit bill and must far outweigh what the local authorities used to pay to run their own facilities.

 

Yet these same policy makers and academics who decided this system of private B&BS and TFFs are telling us today that is in fact not the way to end homelessness and have come up with a new project call Housing First, which social bite are backing. 

 

We hope Housing First does indeed work, but a cynic would suggest it is just the latest doomed effort from those in authority. The same people who have made an industry out of homelessness where an extra £14 million was raised last year, on top of the tens of millions already being spent, and there is no discernible difference on our streets.

 

That is not to say no good comes from Sleep Outs. Our own group have benefited massively from donations from the Celtic Foundation after their annual event and our founding member, Dermot Hill, participates every year.

 

 

We just want action. One of Social Bite’s Sleep Out’s should have been enough. The thought of  multimillionaires like Bob Geldolf coming up here and lecturing us about poverty every year should give those with power the incentive they need to start doing it properly!

 

Tickets for the event are advertised on Itson with live bands promoted and it has almost a festival-like vibe to it.

 

Social Bite’s Sleep Outs have been good for raising awareness but the public are well aware of the homeless problem on our streets now and have done their bit.

 

Tory austerity is causing the increasing levels of poverty seen in the country but our own politicians and local authorities still have considerable resources and are wasting them.

 

Well done to all you hardy souls who braved the elements at the weekend. We just wish those with power to change shared your spirit.

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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.