Scotland to play lead role in global drive to end homelessness

Scotland will play a leading role in a new global programme to end street homelessness by 2030 involving diverse countries around the world and ultimately including 150 cities, a conference will hear today.

The ‘A Place to Call Home’ initiative is led by the Institute of Global Homelessness, chaired by Dame Louise Casey, former head of the UK Government’s Rough Sleepers’ Unit.

The starting point will be the pioneering work of a small group of 12 so-called vanguard cities working to achieve specific targets by 2020. Glasgow has been selected to join this group, spread across six continents. Glasgow’s target for 2020 is to reduce by 75% the number of people sleeping rough every week in the city centre area, and cut by 50% those sleeping rough across Glasgow each year, estimated at just over 500 individuals annually.

The official announcement will be made by Dame Louise and Glasgow councillor Mhairi Hunter at The Homeless Network’s Annual Conference today at Glasgow City Chambers, an event that will include insight from leading academics, politicians and housing experts.

Part of the discussion will be around ways to better interpret the figures and data that are collected on homelessness by a wide variety of agencies in Scotland to support informed decision and with a multi-agency agreement on targets for reducing homelessness for the first time.

Maggie Brunjes, chief executive of the Homeless Network, said: “Rough sleeping is the most damaging form of homelessness and an ordeal that no one should have to endure. We are looking forward to welcoming Dame Louise to our annual conference. It is an opportunity to hear about the ambitious plans that the IGH has to tackle homelessness globally and begins a very exciting opportunity for Glasgow and Scotland to be at the front of this programme going forward.”

Dame Louise Casey, chair of the Institute for Global Homelessness, said: “We are impressed by the ideas and energy and the close collaboration between the public and charity sectors here in Glasgow. We believe this is a combination with the strongest potential to achieve the type of change that can be an inspiration to other world cities facing a deeper and more complex challenge.”

Councillor Mhairi Hunter, city convener for health and social care, said: “A national commitment to end rough sleeping, backed by a £50m fund over five years, has already been established. Glasgow at the front of this larger global effort announced today will provide inspiration and pace, but also perspective. We will be upfront about challenges to be solved and pragmatic and persistent about what it will take to achieve our ambition to end rough sleeping.”

The theme of the conference this year will explore ‘No wrong door’, a new approach that aims to ensure that whatever service people arrive at is the right door to a rapid response. This is aimed at delivering help as quickly as possible to either prevent people becoming homeless or to resolve their housing situation. The conference takes place as Glasgow City Council has confirmed that a £23m budget for homelessness services will be co-managed by a new strategic alliance between the city’s Health & Social Care Partnership, the Homeless Network and frontline service providers.

Susanne Millar, chief officer for Glasgow Health & Social Care Partnership, added: “We know that some people get stuck in our homeless system, slip through our safety nets, or opt out of them altogether. Housing First will be at the heart of making a better offer and making sure people get a better outcome. Our partnership with the third sector and with people with lived experience recognises that we share the ideas and answers and need to listen, learn from and trust each other.”

Conference programme