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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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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