Urgent action to tackle Scotland’s rough sleeping crisis

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 Increased emergency accommodation in areas with the greatest numbers of rough sleepers

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28th November 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Key third sector recommendations will be put in place to further tackle rough sleeping this winter.

The Scottish Government has announced an increase in emergency accommodation and outreach provision to help stem the country’s growing street homelessness crisis.

An initial £328,000 worth of investment will provide increased emergency accommodation in areas with the greatest numbers of rough sleepers, making personal budgets available to front line workers to meet immediate housing needs, and supporting greater use of the emergency Nightstop service.

The recommendations come from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which is comprised of third sector and professional groups and local authorities.

Since its first meeting on 5 October, the action group has “worked at pace” to identify areas where there is the greatest need and actions that can have the most impact.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by housing minister Kevin Stewart and action group chair and chief executive of Crisis UK, Jon Sparkes, to announce the plans on a visit to homelessness charity Streetwork.

The first minister said: “I want to thank the action group for the serious and urgent work they have done. These actions, which the government accepts in full and will roll out immediately, will provide more support for those who find themselves homeless and more safe and warm places to stay this winter.

“We have a shared commitment to eradicate rough sleeping and end homelessness which is why we established the action group, backed by £50 million to drive change.

“While we take these immediate steps to help those who find themselves at risk of rough sleeping this winter, the group’s work now continues as we strive to end rough sleeping for good.”

Sparkes added: “As the cold weather bites, it’s critical to support as many people sleeping on the streets as possible.

“However, the longer-term focus of the action group is on sustainable solutions which prevents people rough sleeping in the first place and our focus is now on looking at the practical and systems changes required to end rough sleeping for good.

“These proposals mean that immediate, effective support can be given to people sleeping rough this winter, as well as making longer-term solutions easier to access.  

“The effort and energy of action group members to work quickly to identify practical support along with the willingness of council leaders and sector colleagues to commit to more flexible practices at short notice has been remarkable.”

David Duke, founder of Street Soccer Scotland and a member of the action group, made the original recommendations to the Scottish Government.

He said: “The recommendations of the action group for this winter are about saving lives and ensuring that anyone who is experiencing rough sleeping has access to additional support and shelter. However, we know that this can only be a short term solution.

“In the long term, the focus for the action group, local and national governments, and everyone in the sector, must be on how we provide good quality housing and living standards for those affected by homelessness.

“This also means considering how best to provide high standards of support, and provide people who are homeless with security, relationships and purpose to help them on the road out of homelessness.”