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Uncategorized

Cold Hard Truth

Today we publish a piece from a long standing friend and supporter of our group. Heed these words as they come from a knowing source.

The closest feeling to having nowhere to live is that of a broken heart. It is a feeling of abandonment, of rejection and loneliness. When you are homeless you feel rejected by all, not just by another.

It should come as no surprise that homeless people experience some of the highest rates of loneliness and isolation in the Scottish population. Being homeless means more than just being without a home, it is linked to the breakdown of personal and social relationships and being put at a distance from social networks and connections. It can make some withdraw further from others, reinforcing isolation and seeking support harder. For others the use of alcohol or drugs is a means of blocking out isolation.

Rough sleeping is increasing and crisis levels, that is very obvious in the City centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Glasgow City Council seems to be fighting fire with a very small water pistol and is under increasing pressure from Homeless Charities such as Shelter to fulfil its statutory duty of providing accommodation.

So why isn’t it meeting the statutory duty.. Can you really cut over £400m in Council Services and expect a positive outcome ?

As a way of addressing the crisis, much has been made of Housing First approach to resolve homelessness. The idea has cost the Government in Finland €240m and has seen long term homelessness cut by approx 45%

Housing First in Scotland is currently being rolled out across 5 areas – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Aberdeen and Dundee in what is known as The Pathfinder Project and was launched in August 2018.

Housing First is for people whose homelessness is experienced alongside other severe and multiple complex issues – addiction, trauma, abuse, mental ill health and experience of local authority care and prison. It is estimated this affects around 5,700 people in Scotland, across a single year.

Since 2010 austerity has taken its toll on public services with harsh cuts to the NHS and Mental Health Services, Addiction Services, Social Work (including Criminal Justice) and Homeless Services. Councils around Scotland are already preparing themselves for further ‘efficiency savings’

As Housing First requires strong links to all of the above services, just how serious is Scotland about Housing First and resolving homelessness ?

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Uncategorized

Update from Our Team On The Ground

How many this winter?

How many this year?

Many of us who’ve bought the flag, wore the t-shirt and walked the walk of Scotland’s failed policies on homelessness are now beyond persuasion. Personally I’m embarrassed to have taken a wage. Glasgow City Council and our National Government for decades, have wasted time, money and energy. We must be honest though. This is not a party political issue for our group. We are past wasting our energy. Let us be clear in our message. This is a national emergency bigger than careerist political colours.

So I’ll respectfully start with our First Minister. Hmmm, where to go? I’ll give it a punt.
First Minister can you agree that too many souls will die on our streets this winter? Will you agree this is a national shame? With the greatest of respect First Minister do you believe it is your direct responsibility to take control of this issue in our country? We sincerely hope you do. What about you Prime Minister? Mr Corbyn? All of you! We ask the same questions.

It’s election time. ‘er yer hollow promises, two fur a vote, three fur your soul’

Elections are great for statistical analysis aren’t they? Real forensic stuff for some. We can do stats too. Shake your boot’s stats. We can do historical analysis of previous law’s crayoned into wherever devolved and settled matters are written. See last year’s blog. We can do all of that. It doesn’t take a law degree to understand broken or ineffective policies. Quite literally life or death policies in this case.

Back to our current local and national leaders now, the stakeholders, the photo opportunity people, you know, the decision makers.

We ask them. How many died on Glasgow’s street’s or in temporary accommodation supported or not in 2018? Difficult but essential question in this debate. How many???
Truth is that we don’t know. To be honest we have great difficulty finding accurate figures, maybe we could touch on who can a bit later on. So sadly our trust in sources providing real answers to this essential question is limited. We do hope, always, to change our position in the future.

Why you might ask? Why no trust? Fair question, hand’s up. But. There are additional considerations, upsetting considerations and we believe, standing beside those in our community, this issue must be high on the crisis list.

You ready? I bet you’re not.
Let’s talk about street Valium.
Let’s talk about Etizolam.
No, with our deepest respect to families devastated, in the context of this response? We can suggest this only. 45 souls did not die in Glasgow registered as homeless or rough sleeping in 2018. We respectfully assert the number may be alarmingly higher.

Yes many additional factors contribute, we get that. It doesn’t stop us asking the question.

How many homeless or at risk of homelessness people in Temporary Furnished Flats, Supported Accommodation, public or private council funded hostels or BnB’s (with or without statuary or 3rd sector support) died in Glasgow?
Let’s be horribly honest. If you don’t have the capacity to understand this as a major contributing factor, not an individual’s issue and you’re employed or are considered a stakeholder providing guidance to colleagues or our community? You should be ashamed of your employer. Ask them. Be you CAT (community addiction team) Criminal Justice support team’s, CMHT’s (we could add another paragraph of team’s) and every housing provider. MP, MSP, Councilor. Ask them how many? It wasn’t 45.

As an evolving group over 5+ years we have quietly gone about our business. Supporting those we could learning day by day, week by week, month by month and so on.
So Our desire to evolve continues. The touch screen is mightier than the Cooncil, sorry, sword. We meant sword. Honest.

Invisibles. The Invisibles. Seetheinvisibles.co.uk.


Not now, we appear to be very visible suddenly. The beginning was fodder for our news media and every Christmas is the same. Happy new puppyness. Merry here’s 3 minutes and 400 words of our commitment to make a difference. Once a year, when suddenly we all grow a conscience. Homelessness IS NOT, just for Christmas.

Spare the souls needing our support. Spare our colleagues from many groups the same and spare us.

Do you really want a story? A damn horror story?

Look closely at homelessness provision over the past 25+ year’s in Glasgow.

Thatcher would be proud.

It really should be asked. Have they only gone and stealthy, bit by bit, privatised another social issue?

How much for private hostel or BnB and how many over past decade (we’re being reasonable on last bit) were ‘processed in this time period? An FOI request? Another committee? An Alliance? A question in Parliament? A blog? 1000 Tweets? Do we have to spray paint this on the shiney side of the Hydro for you?

Here’s another freebie.

Who provides the furnishings in a Temporary Furnished Flat, and why is the rent in a TFF so high that it’s a barrier to work opportunities. A Cooncil cell if you will. Another open goal of a story. Wide open.


So now, more than any media outlets ever could, we will speak brutal truth. Occasionally.

However.

Our group refuses to be investigative shpeel hawkers for any media.

Ask us a reasonable question and we’ll give honest answers. Fancy coming out and seeing what’s happening right now? No problem.

Ask us to do your job by writing columns or articles? Not a chance, go do your job. Be journalist’s again. Find the story, stand it up, then print the thing. How hard is it?

We do respectfully, recognise individual reporter’s who’ve taken time to come see for themselves. Thanks for that. You dilute our cynicism and continue to do so. Really. This DIY attitude from let’s say, less weathered writers and columnist’s certainly is refreshingly progressive these days. Keep at it. We need your help.

But back to our update, aye that.

Just in from ‘Our Team On The Ground’

Here’s our update this winter….

Nothing has changed. More people will needlessly die as the decision makers and interest from media scuttle off to wherever is next on the photo opportunity bandwagon.

Remember to smile for the camera.

Happy Christmas

The Invisibles

Categories
General Article

18 months later..

Well folks that’s 18 months of See The Invisibles, wow what can I say, Its blown me away, the generosity of people in and around Glasgow and even as far as the Shetland isles, donations at football grounds, donations posted from hundreds of miles away, people going on to the Amazon wish list and buying stuff to give to our group to pass on, we as a group hope we have helped a lot of people or at least made their life a wee bit easier.

The Invisibles started with a blog then a meeting or two, I was told by an experienced social worker that this could be big…well I thought no more of that statement, but I have since told that person how right he was, and it’s all down to ordinary folk who help the group and hold down jobs as well, donors who never seem to stop amazing me.

It’s 2015 and we still have the problem of homelessness and people having to use foodbanks, it’s not right.

Well we have done T in the park again and a special thanks to Tangerine Fields for their help and donations of sleeping bags and a special thanks to all the people who volunteered to wash the sleeping bags, thanks to the folk at our storage unit for helping us out.

I’d like to thank the volunteers of our wee group by name…but they want to remain invisible, you know who you are…THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

I’d also like to thank The Celtic Foundation for their generosity, and also The Celtic Network for its generosity, and The Carluke shamrock and many others

 

Too everyone who has helped may your God bless you…

Dermot.

invisibles small

Categories
Appeal

The Invisibles Wish List Appeal

We are launching a campaign for the month of June for the most needed items of Men’s underwear,     socks and belts through our Amazon Wish list:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/ls/ref=aw_wl_ov_edit_notes?ie=UTF8&filter&lid=2HDMGVIHY2WD1&p=1&reveal=unpurchased&sort=priority

If you purchase a pack of men’s boxer shorts for example, they are delivered directly to our storage unit in Dalmarnock, then our Volunteers distribute them to the Charities and Outreach teams in Glasgow who are working to alleviate homelessness in our city.

We trialled the wish list earlier this year and it has been a tremendous success, through your generosity, organisations such as Destiny’s Angels, Glasgow Simon Community RSVP Hub , Salt and Light to name a few, were able to provide some of our most vulnerable in society with clean warm clothing and sleeping bags.

All of our stock of underwear, socks and belts has gone out to our most needy; therefore we need your help to see them through the next couple of months.

If you prefer to purchase said items elsewhere you can contact us for details of how to arrange delivery etc.

Thanks in Advance

The Invisibles

Categories
Awareness

Some Issues Facing Glasgow’s Homeless by A Homelessness Sector Worker

There are many issues affecting homelessness from both the individuals’ point of view, and that of the workers involved in the sector. Although recognised publicly as a major issue, homelessness perhaps does not get the attention it deserves from a statutory viewpoint. Historically, in my opinion, Glasgow City Council has consistently failed to acknowledge that homelessness is a problem in the City, despite the amount of third sector services currently operating.

The closure of the large scale hostels within Glasgow aimed to provide smaller, more supported units – however, the supply of these units did not meet the demand. So much so, that just last year, the council stated that they planned to open two new hostel-type accommodations (at a cost of over £12 million) to meet the continual need for suitable homeless units.

Although in most cases, many would argue, the large scale hostels were not fit for purpose, these hostels provided a roof over one’s head. Now, I am not saying that these units were the answer – far from it. I stayed in one such hostel before the closure, and the memory of it is not a fond one. Drugs and drink were easily accessible, and the beginning of the homeless journey was made more difficult by the lack of individual support on offer. During my time in the larger hostel, I can honestly say I received no support in helping me address my issues at the time. I was basically given a room, with a bed, and that was it.

Now working in the homelessness sector, it appears nothing much has changed. Although many of the hostels closed, some still remain. However, I do believe that more support is on offer within these places, and I have experienced this too. Indeed, I had a positive experience in one such hostel which still operates just a stone’s throw from the City Centre.

I feel that a major issue facing individuals nowadays is not only the lack of accommodation available, but the types of accommodation being used. The Council now send people to bed & breakfast type places where the workers there have no experience of working in social care. Generally homelessness is only one of a multitude of issues that the individual experiences, and often their needs continue to go unmet. Mental health issues, relationship breakdowns, addiction issues all go hand in hand with homelessness, yet these individuals are shipped off to B&B’s on the outskirts of the city receiving little or no support. Removing the person from their communities can often have a negative effect on the individual – support networks, family, friends in the area are not given consideration. Having a support network can be a huge help to an individual, but moving someone out of the area they have spent most of their life, for example, can exacerbate an individual’s issues.

Every day people visit my workplace, homeless or otherwise, and during my time working within the voluntary sector, I have also become increasingly frustrated at the lack of support given by the council at times. In fact, many of the people with whom we work refuse to present to the council now. The reasons being that they have had a previous experience in which there was no positive outcome. On a daily basis, I encounter people who are told by the Hamish Allan Centre that there is ‘no accommodation available’. They are given bus tokens to visit one of the Casework Teams, spend all day there, before being told once again that there is still no accommodation available. They are then sent back to the Hamish Allan Centre after office hours, to continue the homeless presentation process. People sometimes go through this for days, sometimes weeks, before either being offered accommodation which fails to meet their needs, or indeed give up presenting as homeless due to constant negative decisions.

It’s a sad day when people would rather sleep rough, than visit the council for support. The council break the law by not providing accommodation, yet have been getting away with it for years.

Glasgow enjoys a reputation as a ‘caring city’. Although this may be true from the eyes of outsiders, in my opinion more should be done –much more – to address the issue of homelessness. Choosing to remain on the streets, rather than seek help from the council means our citizens are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis.

I hear shocking stories everyday about the way people are expected to behave. One of the bed and breakfast’s used by the council does not allow the residents to actually talk to one another. They are expected to isolate themselves from others, and be grateful that they have a roof over their heads. At least in the hostels of old, you were allowed to communicate. How many of the people reading this would stay in a bed and breakfast where you could not talk? Not me! Then why should we expect some of the most vulnerable people in the city to abide by these types of rules?

The homeless, literally, do not have a voice and as a result they are expected to take what they are given. Basic human rights are ignored, and the most marginalised and stigmatised people in society are constantly facing oppression.

Just what homeless people need…more issues to face.

The author wishes to remain anonymous

*Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views or opinion of ‘The Invisibles’ group.