Homeless Action Scotland challenges everyone to #TakeActionOnHomelessness

CEO Gavin Yates mid-sentence

Homeless Action Scotland challenges everyone to #TakeActionOnHomelessness

Scotland has some of the most progressive homelessness legislation in the world yet we still routinely see over 30k homeless applications being made each year to the various local authorities across Scotland.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to explain what the various forms of homelessness are, how they come about and how they can be solved. We believe that in most cases homelessness is a symptom of something else that is happening in a person or family’s life, be it poverty, poor mental health, being made redundant, drug addictions, alcoholism, domestic abuse, leaving an institution, family breakdown and a whole host of other negative life events which are mostly out with the control of the person who finds themselves homeless.

Homelessness can mean many things but there is a recognised legal definition of what being homelessness means. However, as we will explore, some people do not realise they are homeless, some people think they are homeless when they are not, and there is an area in between these two concepts where, legally, it depends on the intention of the person who feels they are homeless as to whether or not the legal definition of being homeless will apply. We admit this can seem a confusing and contradictory explanation of something which most people think is a simple legal definition, but what we hope to do is discuss these contradictions and explain what homelessness is and what it is not over the coming weeks.

We will cover many topics which impact on homeless people as well as the various forms of homelessness that exist. Being homeless is a legally defined state of being which entitles a person or family to a certain level of support. But, as will be discussed, this support is very different across Scotland which can have catastrophic effects on individuals and families.

The kinds of topics we will be covering are aspects within homelessness that are recognised as being problematic, enduring and complex. This is not to say that cases of homelessness are difficult to deal with, particularly for those who are going through the process. However, within the sector, there are recognised issues and practices which seem ingrained and difficult to change. Things such as repeat homelessness, release from prison, domestic abuse, family breakdown, eviction, poor mental health, addiction, care leavers and people not being given their statutory rights.

We will not only be focusing on the negative aspects of homelessness practice. There are many positive aspects of homelessness practice where the support and intervention from statutory services and third sector partners have improved a person or family’s life immeasurably. Homeless services quite literally save lives. But they do not just work in a crisis, they support people when they need help. All too often we focus on negative experiences when there are many positive journeys out there which should be shared and celebrated.

We work with third sector partners across the homelessness sector; as well as this we routinely support and seek advice from other organisations and sectors which are not always viewed as working within homelessness itself. We include as a matter of course veterans’ groups, street newspapers, law centres, advice agencies, DWP, alcohol and drug partnerships, SPS, universities, justice organisations, housing associations, NHS, trades unions and tenants’ rights groups.

This is not just going to be about us. We have lined up some interesting views from people that work across our sector and, crucially, not all of them work within homelessness directly. If you think you have something interesting to say on this subject and want to get involved then please get in contact.

We are not going to be naming nor shaming any particular organisation, local authority or individual throughout this information sharing. However we feel that it is necessary for there to be an opening up and an honest discussion about homelessness in Scotland and we hope that you will take part, share this journey with us and maybe together we can improve the outcomes for homeless people in Scotland.