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Practitioner articles

Practitioners working in the field of homelessness in Scotland share their experiences and concerns to promote a broader understanding of all areas of the homelessness sector.

If you would like to write an article for this website, please email practicescotland@shelter.org.uk or complete our contact form.

Articles are available to view either as web pages or as PDF documents to download.

Safe and Sound Project - 2 years on

Safe and Sound Project - 2 years on

Welfare reform changes for temporary accommodation

Welfare reform changes for temporary accommodation

Scottish Welfare Fund - an update

Dorothy Ogle, in the Welfare Division at the Scottish Government, explains who is eligible for awards from the Scottish Welfare Fund and how the guidance has recently been updated.

Veterans Outreach Project

Alison McCrorie, Veterans Outreach Worker, explains the issues faced by veterans when returning to civilian life and how a dedicated housing service is now being offered through a partnership between Shelter Scotland and charity Scottish Veterans Residence.

Working with the Private Rented Sector

In the month that the Scottish Government launch their Private Rented Sector Strategy David Goldie, Head of Housing at Highland Council, explains how they work with the private rented sector to help meet housing need across the local authority.

A taxing subject

In the week that the bedroom tax comes into effect, John Cameron, Director at Forth Housing Association looks at the implications of the changes and how they, as landlords, have attempted to tackle the issue.

The Safe and Sound Project

Richard McGilvray, Project Leader, talks about the challenges and the rewards of delivering the service.

Tenancy Deposit Schemes in Scotland

Rebecca Johnston, Operations Manager at SafeDeposits Scotland explains the recent change in law around how tenants deposits are dealt with in Scotland.

Housing First

Chief Executive at Turning Point Scotland, Martin Cawley, explains how they are following the approach of the Pathways to Housing project in New York in the early 1990s piloting this new approach to homelessness services in Glasgow.

Preventing homelessness

Cyrenians Homelessness Prevention Service Manager, Orla Doyle, explains what makes their Homelessness Prevention Service a pioneering model of best practice.

Housing Options: Gate keeping or prevention

As local authorities in Scotland develop their Housing Options advice services, Janeine Barratt, Principal Officer Homelessness at North Ayrshire Council draws a line between genuine homelessness prevention and gatekeeping.

Local Authority homelessness statistics - progress to 2012

As the Scottish Government publish the latest annual statistics on local authority homelessness services, Fiona King, Policy Officer at Shelter Scotland looks at what the figures show and what it means for Scotland achieving the landmark 2012 commitment.

Tackling Private Sector Empty Homes

Kristen Miller, Empty Homes Coordinator at the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership looks at the issues of private sector empty homes in Scotland and how the Partnership is working with councils to get the 23,000 private sector empty homes back into use.

Keys to the Future: helping homeless children succeed in education

Jacqueline McGrath, Support Worker at Shelter Scotland writes about the work that has been done to help children who are homeless and in bad housing with their education needs.

Tenancy sustainment - not just the latest buzz word!

Janice Conner, Housing Service Manager at Link Housing Association explains how Link housing embraced a culture of tenancy sustainment and the successes they have achieved.

Coping with the cold spell

Graham K Blount, Chair of the Scottish Fuel Poverty Forum, looks at the Energy Assistance Package and the continuing challenges of tackling fuel poverty.

Shared Lives services in Scotland

Anne Fernie, Scotland Development Worker for NAAPS, explains the development of Shared Lives in Scotland which provides community based support for vulnerable people.

Lessons for Scotland?

Following the recent announcement of a planned tenancy deposit scheme for Scotland, Ian Potter from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) looks at a similar scheme in England and Wales and the lessons that Scotland can learn.

Banning evictions for rent arrears

Earlier this year Stirling Council took the decision to ban eviction for rent arrears following a motion raised by Councillor Alasdair MacPherson, the portfolio holder for housing. Councillor MacPherson explains the motivation behind his proposal and what alternative action Stirling Council is now taking to address rent arrears.

Housing advice for everyone

Joyce Horsman explores the idea that public legal education is ‘more easily described than defined’ by explaining Shelter Scotland’s approach to the concept.

Repossessions in Scotland: an action plan to protect homeowners

Alexis Camble outlines the findings and recommendations of the Repossessions Working Group set up in response to the current economic downturn and consequent rise in repossessions by the Scottish Government.

Preventing homelessness, sustaining tenancies

Suzie Scott discusses the development and implementation of tenancy sustainment measures at Glasgow Housing Association in response to a considerable tenancy failure rate.

Running out of time

Nick Bell of the Scottish Council for Single Homeless discusses the issue of youth homelessness and how it can be prevented through early intervention during crises such as running away from home. She illustrates this by discussing a particular case she has followed long-term.

Public attitudes to homelessness

Rachel Ormston outlines the results of a survey identifying attitudes to homelessness among the public, commissioned after a prior survey suggested that practitioners working in the homelessness field thought they would find their jobs easier if public attitudes were more positive. Findings indicate that many people did indeed hold critical opinions on the causes of homelessness and on people who find themselves homeless. The article concludes with a round-up of suggestions for how practitioners can take practical steps to try to alter these negative attitudes to more positive ones.

Mortgage to Rent

Mike Crozier describes Weslo Housing Management’s pioneering work in mortgage rescue and their current role in the national Mortgage to Rent scheme.

Tackling fuel poverty

Elizabeth Gore works for Energy Action Scotland which is the national charity that aims to eliminate fuel poverty by raising awareness of it, particularly as it affects low income households. Here she outlines the current fuel poverty situation including legislation and schemes designed to mitigate it. She goes on to make some useful suggestions as to how practitioners can help clients to help themselves with this issue.

Deposit Guarantee Schemes

Lisa Allan outlines the results of a recent report on how Deposit Guarantee Schemes are working in Scotland. Deposit Guarantee Schemes help homeless people to access private rented accommodation by assisting them with providing a deposit and rent in advance and provide reassurance to landlords in the form of guarantees that enable them to take on homeless or vulnerable tenants when they otherwise would not.

Challenging behaviour in services

Turning Point Scotland offers a variety of social care services including some specifically for homeless people. Marisa Mahood outlines the services that are offered, how challenging behaviour is encountered, monitored and managed along with examples of good practice based on learning from over 10 years of running such services.

Section 11 pilot project

Alistair Sharp outlines how the Prevention of Homelessness Project in Glasgow is carrying out casework to prevent homelessness caused by eviction and repossession in advance of Section 11 of the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 becoming law. He discusses the innovative multi-agency work the Project is coordinating.

Landlords' forum development

The Landlords' Forum in Perth & Kinross has successfully engaged landlords while building hard-won trust between the local authority, with its regulatory and enforcement obligations, and those working in the private rented sector in general. Martin Smith discusses the Forum's set up, development and the lessons learned from running it.

Youth homelessness prevention

Sharon Hossack outlines the measures taken by Stirling Council and its partners to prevent homelessness amongst young people. A holistic approach is taken to ensure that the best possible range of services is provided and that young people, particularly those leaving care, are not faced with having to take the homeless route into accommodation. Further help is then provided to help them to sustain tenancies once they have them.

Edinburgh Landlord Accreditation

Heather Kirkland describes the work of Edinburgh Landlord Accreditation, and explains how the scheme is helping to improve standards in the private rented sector in the capital and how accreditation could improve standards in private renting across Scotland.

Services for BME communities

Catriona Paton and Naheed Asghar discuss the work of East Renfrewshire's BME Outreach Project, which was launched in 2004 to address the housing needs and concerns of the area's growing BME community.

Racial inequalities in housing

Fazila Esat-Dawson discusses racial inequalities in the provision of housing and of housing and homelessness services in Scotland, and explains how the CRE's new Code of Practice will address the situation by promoting good practice and raising awareness of housing rights.

Housing options interviews

Myra MacDonald explains the role of Argyll and Bute Council's Community Support Homeless Service in preventing homelessness by helping tenants and home owners remain in their homes if at all possible, and examines the challenges of delivering an effective housing options service in a rural area.

Unsuitable Accommodation Order

In this article, John Flaherty discusses how Fife Council is managing to meet its duties under the Unsuitable Accommodation Order 2004, and how this is affecting temporary accommodation provision and homelessness services in general in the area.

Knowledge, understanding and views

In this article, Lyn Jardine gives an overview of research conducted for the Scottish Executive into how homelessness service providers view their roles and how well placed they are to achieve the 2012 target. The research was overseen by the Awareness Raising and Best Practice Sub Group of the Homelessness Monitoring Group.

The role of advice and information

In this article, GHN's Claire Frew discusses how offering advice and information to the right people at the right time can help prevent homelessness, and looks at the challenges of delivering effective advice and information services.

Private Sector Leasing scheme

Angela McLachlan explains how the City of Edinburgh Council is tackling homelessness with the help of the city's private landlords.

Housing homeless disabled people

Karen Anne Doherty discusses how disabled people are often at serious disadvantage when it comes to finding suitable accommodation after becoming homeless despite their current priority need status.

Domestic abuse and homelessness law

Jo Ozga, Housing Development Worker, Scottish Women's Aid outlines the current legal and social rented housing situation for people who experience domestic abuse and become homeless as a result of it, particularly women. She focuses on the way in which priority need can work for and against them and discusses why priority need by itself is not enough to ensure a suitable permanent housing outcome for many.

Young people leaving care

Tam Baillie discusses how homelessness legislation may not always be the most effective way of supporting very young care leavers into their own suitable, stable homes.

Older people and homelessness

Angela Yih, Housing Policy Officer at Age Concern Scotland, talks about the effects that changes to priority need legislation will make to older people. She then goes on to examine the factors that are likely to still be barriers to older people accessing appropriate housing even when priority need is abolished.

The Task Force agenda

Liz Nicholson, as a former member of the Homelessness Task Force, and a member of its predecessor, the Homelessness Monitoring Group, introduces our series of articles on the effect of the abolition of priority need within different social groups. She then goes on to outline the challenges inherent in bringing about the abolition successfully, so that it contributes to everyone in Scotland having a home by 2012.

NorthStar: a guiding light

Northstar is an innovative means of providing information via touch screen kiosks in North Lanarkshire. It has been developed to make advice more accessible to homeless people and to contribute to ensuring that the Council meets the legal requirements on it. Julie Hunter, as Project Manager, outlines the background to the work and tells us how it is progressing.

Shelter's housing advice online

Advice online is the housing advice section of the Shelter website. First launched in April 2004, funding from the Vodafone UK Foundation has since allowed for a drastic overhaul and expansion so that it now covers a wider range of housing issues. Its aim is to empower people by providing them with knowledge of their housing rights, and to suggest to them practical ways of enforcing these rights.

Integration through football

Irene Addy, Service Development Manager, Street League, talks about the aims, objectives and workings of a new League recently set up in Scotland.

Social networks

The Scottish Social Networks Forum is being established to raise awareness of the important role that mentoring, befriending and mediation services can play in enabling homeless people to rebuild positive social networks and to support organisations developing these services. It is a direct response by the Rock Trust and Communities Scotland to the Homelessness Taskforce recommendation that such initiatives should be nationally co-ordinated. Lesley Stenhouse, as Co-ordinator of the Forum, discusses the importance of networks and network building in the lives of homeless people.

The influence of the idiots

Austin Smith, Development Co-ordinator (Support, Care and Health), Glasgow Homelessness Network discusses the development of trauma services for people affected by homelessness in Glasgow.

Health in homelessness

Samuel Cumpsty, Deputy Manager of the Edinburgh Cyrenians FareShare project, talks about the organisational aims and practical achievements of Health Improvement Services.

Providing temporary accommodation

Hilary Parkey, Housing Strategy Officer at the Highland Council talks about the challenges of providing high quality temporary accommodation to homeless households in rural parts of Scotland.

Youth mediation

The Youth Homeless Mediation post within South Ayrshire Council has been operational since February 2000. Mediation Officer, Andrew Craig, discusses the benefits that the service has been able to offer when dealing with youth homelessness.

Delivering welfare rights

Queens Cross Housing Association (QXHA) in Glasgow has provided a welfare rights service since 1987, and is currently looking at ways of expanding the service through funding initiatives. Steven Craig, a Welfare Rights Officer with the service, discusses how the team's work contributes to the prevention of rent arrears.

Managing rent arrears

John Campaigne from South Lanarkshire Council gives a local authority perspective on the prevention and management of rent arrears.

Service user involvement

Service user involvement is becoming more important in the homelessness field. Jo Phillips from the Glasgow Homelessness Network talks about the practicalities of putting Service User Involvement into practice.

Resettlement Training Service

Margaret Anne Gachagan from the Glasgow Simon Community discusses Service User Involvement in the context of the work of the Resettlement Training Service.

Council Housing Convener

Councillor Chris Hind, Housing Convener at Dundee City Council, talks about his experiences working to alleviate homelessness.

Children's Education Worker

Bryan Gregg, a Children's Education Worker with the Shelter Families Project Edinburgh, talks about the importance of keeping homeless and rehoused children in school.

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