Launch of new Children's Service
2 December 2008
A new Shelter Scotland project launched today (Tuesday) is aimed at helping thousands of children who become homeless every year in Scotland.
During the last year, there were around 22,000 children living in families assessed as homeless  and many thousands more in overcrowded or run-down housing. And there were just over 7,000 dependent children living in temporary accommodation across the whole of Scotland. 
Shelter Scotland's new Children's Service, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation through its Education and Learning grants programme, aims to alleviate the misery of homelessness for some of these children and young people in a two-pronged approach: nationally, through identifying and communicating good practice; and locally through working directly to provide educational support to homeless children .
Investigations from south of the border show that children living in bad housing are nearly twice as likely as other children to leave school without any GCSEs, and there is no reason to believe the situation is not similar in Scotland.
In addition, children living in acute bad housing are twice as likely to not attend school compared to children who are living in adequate housing. And children living in bad housing are five times more likely to lack a quiet place to do their homework as other children.
Kathleen Marshall, Scotland's Commissioner for Children & Young People, said: 'Every child has a right to a safe and decent home. A decent standard of housing is an important part of that and is fundamental to their physical and mental growth and development. It is good to see a project that focuses particularly on the important contribution good housing can make towards respect for children's fundamental human rights and dignity.'
Jessie Crawford, the national Children's Service Policy and Practice Co-ordinator at Shelter Scotland, said: 'Across Scotland, thousands of children were homeless last year, causing disruption to their education, affecting their mental health, friendships and potentially storing up problems for later in life.
'We must strive to make homelessness for children and their families a thing of the past and when it cannot be avoided, we must ensure agencies work together so it causes the least amount of disruption or upset where possible.
She added: 'We're keen to hear from anyone, either in the statutory or voluntary sector, from across Scotland, who has examples of good practice, better working, or indeed how things shouldn’t be done.'
Shelter Scotland's Children’s Service, is part of a 3-year programme (2008 to 2011) across Scotland and England. It aims at the end of its three years to have contributed to:
- fewer children and young people becoming homeless
- better support for children experiencing housing problems
- better multi-agency working and information sharing between housing and children's services
- better understanding among decision-makers of the complex issues experienced by homeless and badly housed children.
To tell Shelter about good work to support homeless children in your area and to find out more about tackling homelessness and bad housing among Scotland's children and young people go to http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/children or telephone Jessie Crawford on 0844 515 2472.
Notes to editors
- Statistical Bulletin: Operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland: national and local analyses 2007/8. This is for a full year period and as part of a wider figure of just over 40,000 households assessed as homeless.
- Statistical Bulletin: Operation of the Homeless Persons Legislation in Scotland: national and local analyses 2007/8. This is for the one date only in March 31, 2008 and would vary throughout the year, although there is no reason to believe it would drop substantially at any time.
- Four Education Liaison Workers have been employed to fit among Shelter's existing Families Projects in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway, and South Lanarkshire. The workers will work with homeless children to minimise the disruption caused by homelessness to their education.
- The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out half the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, more than £21 billion has now been raised and more than 290,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment. The Big Lottery Fund is currently consulting on its future strategic direction. As a public funder, BIG is committed to consulting on where its funding is directed and how it is delivered. The Big thinking consultation runs until the end of February 2009. The Big Thinking consultation questions can be answered online at www.big-thinking.org.uk.
- Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) is an independent grant making foundation that supports organisations working in education and learning, social justice and the arts in the UK, as well as a range of non-governmental organisations in India. Since its creation in 1987 by the publisher Paul Hamlyn, the foundation has given more than £105m in philanthropic gifts. Following Paul Hamlyn's death in 2001, the foundation has continued to pursue his values, with a particular concern for young and disadvantaged people. In 2007/08 the foundation gave over £16m in support of work it sees as innovative and exemplary in helping people to realise their potential and improve their quality of life. www.phf.org.uk