Homecoming and homelessness
By: Shelter Scotland Published: November 2009
A Shelter Scotland report taking the theme of 'homecoming' (in the year of Scotland Homecoming 2009) and using examples provided by Borderline to highlight the situation of homeless Scots in London who are unable to come 'home'.
- Homecoming and homelessness (PDF 303.1 KB)
At the beginning of this year the Scottish Government launched the Homecoming Scotland 2009, with celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth. The celebrations involve ‘a year-long programme of events across the country incorporating celebrations for Scotland’s great contributions to the world such as: golf; whisky; great minds and innovations; and Scotland’s rich culture and heritage’ .
Homecoming, as a theme, is one which is easy to caricature. It could be argued that it dwells excessively on well-worn images of Scotland which do little to reflect the characteristics of a complex society in the twenty-first century. Its messages seem designed to appeal to a wealthier diaspora; particularly those in North America or other developed countries.
However, caricature is not our purpose here. We believe that Homecoming is and can be a positive message at a time of some economic gloom. We believe that a Homecoming theme can be enriched by recognising that there are many less fortunate Scots who cannot celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2009, because they have no home, or have had to leave Scotland and cannot return. For homeless households in Scotland, those in temporary accommodation and the many homeless Scots living elsewhere, the homecoming message may ring a little hollow.
So, in this brief report we take 'Homecoming' as a starting point to discuss another diaspora: people who have left Scotland and found themselves homeless and facing housing problems elsewhere in the UK. We focus on London because that is where our partner organisations, Borderline and Scotscare are located. Staff at Borderline and Scotscare have worked with Shelter to provide the clients’ stories for this report . We also know that, historically, Scottish people have moved to the UK capital, not all of them finding that its streets were paved with gold. However, we do recognise that this issue might be true of other parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.