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Conference Hears Call for New National Homelessness Strategy

Published: 24 March 2017

Conference Hears Call for New National Homelessness Strategy

Members of a group of people with lived experience of homelessness - named Time for Change - have shared their experiences of homelessness in a workshop session at our Annual Homelessness Conference.

The conference theme ‘Homelessness: Far From Fixed’ is also our current national campaign.  The campaign is calling for a new National Homelessness Strategy for Scotland, informed and designed with input from people with lived experience of homelessness – such as members of the Time for Change group.

The Time for Change group, is a team of volunteers in Glasgow who have all experienced homelessness.  As well as mentoring, they offer ‘assisted homelessness presentations’ where they accompany people and advise them through the process of applying to the council for homelessness assistance.  The service is based on members’ own experiences of being turned away or not being allowed to make a homeless application – despite it being their right. Many of those turned away end up rough sleeping or sofa surfing with friends or family. The group says that knowing your rights is key to securing accommodation.

Keynote speaker Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, address conference on the place of homelessness within the ‘wider communities’ agenda, linking to other policy developments such as the child poverty bill and the transfer of social security powers to Scotland.

Delegates also heard from other individuals with lived experience of homelessness from across Scotland as well as from academics and homelessness practitioners from Northern Ireland and Wales.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“Homelessness in Scotland is far from fixed which is why we are calling for a new National Homelessness Strategy.

“We are convinced that the only way the root causes of homelessness can be tackled is by hearing and learning from people with lived experience of homelessness.

“At this year’s conference our Time for Change core group delivered a workshop using their own experience of homelessness, rough sleeping, sofa surfing and their frustrations with the current housing system.”

Some of the quotes from the Time for Change group members that were used in their workshop session include:

“I wasn’t properly assessed so I didn’t get a place that suited my needs/issues so ended up in a worse off position.”

“Support services ‘gave up’ on me because I didn’t fit in with what they thought I should be doing, so I lost hope, no-one wanted to help me.”

“I was treated differently – and because I wasn’t aware of what my rights were I couldn’t answer for myself.”

“I was scared that the council would notify the police or social work if I presented as they done it to my friend, it was easier just to stay on the street.”

“The support service that was helping me lost its funding and I was left with no one.”

“The process of trying to keep my home, after eviction process had started, was not made to be easy. It was so complicated and I ‘buried my head in the sand’ so I was evicted.”

Housing and Homelessness statistics for Scotland:

  • It’s estimated that around 5,000 people sleep rough on the streets in Scotland
  • More than 28,000 households were assessed as homeless in 2015-16
  • There are more than 10,000 households currently living in temporary accommodation (as at 30 September 2016)
  • Around 5,700 homeless children are currently living in temporary accommodation (as at 30 September 2016)
  • Scottish councils provided 3.8 million days of temporary accommodation in 2015-16
  • Around 65,000 households approached their local authority for help with housing in 2015/16.
  • An unknown number of people are sofa surfing, staying with friends or living in unsuitable or unsafe housing.
  • In 2013, Audit Scotland estimated temporary accommodation costs Scottish local authorities around £27 million a year extra than if they provided permanent homes for those that use it.
  • Housing costs pushed a further 170,000 people into poverty in Scotland in 2015-16
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