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 ?