Everyone Home: Martin Gavin, Head of External Relations at Homeless Network Scotland
Today, Thursday 21 May, 19 organisations that care about homelessness in Scotland will present a plan to the Scottish Government setting out what they believe needs to be done to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness in Scotland. Martin Gavin, Homeless Network Scotland’s Head of External Relations, looks at the proposals and the impact of getting it right.
Everyone Home: Scotland Collective on COVID-19 will present a plan to government later today setting out proposals for ending rough sleeping and scaling up measures to tackle all forms of homelessness in Scotland.
During the pandemic we have witnessed what can be achieved acting as one, with purpose and urgency – the removal of rough sleeping from our streets. We cannot ‘un-see’ this landmark moment, nor should we forget it was achieved in a matter of days. The 19 influential organisations that make up this Collective are all agreed that there should be no going back to homelessness for anyone after this.
The plan that the 19 launch today is based around three pillars: prevent a return to rough sleeping, no evictions into homelessness and a much greater emphasis on prevention of homelessness in all settings along with more housing. Sitting below these headings are more detailed measures such as fast-tracking people to Housing First and other housing options, with 1:1 advocacy and housing support based on a Personal Housing Plan. Or introducing a common framework for housing associations and local councils, plus support for point-in-time and local audits of available housing options and support capacity. These are just a few examples of the carefully crafted, detailed asks contained in the plan.
It also includes a less tangible element – what homelessness charities have learned during the past few months, through their struggle and determination to maintain support for those who need it most. For example, providing drug treatment more effectively, with weekly or monthly prescriptions, and maintaining housing support digitally, or at a distance. Or the importance of looking after people who have no recourse to public funds in the knowledge that we will not end homelessness unless we end it for everyone.
This plan is not a panacea, it simply goes about securing and retaining the best, most effective aspects of the measures introduced by the Scottish Government under emergency legislation at the start of April, and prior to that when frontline organisations in the Collective were funded to get people off the streets over one weekend and into hotel accommodation. Plus, some of that learning I mentioned above.
This plan is not a strategy to end homelessness, we have one of those already in Scotland’s Ending Homelessness Together plan. We were making good progress before the start of this crisis. Co-operation within the third sector and beyond, and with government, was strong and effective, pointing towards the roll-out of rapid rehousing in Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
No, this plan is a bridge. It connects these uncertain times when the future is unclear, and the point on the horizon when we will be able to reconnect with our good and well-aimed ambitions prior to COVID-19, albeit with a more insistent gait.