Blog: Working together to end homelessness for good

Beth Reid
Beth Reid

Beth Reid from Crisis asks how do we prevent another 50 years of homelessness in Scotland?

Last month, Crisis turned 50. This was a milestone that as an organisation we never wanted to reach as we hoped homelessness in Great Britain would have ceased to exist long ago.

Founded in London in the 1960s, with the intention of standing up against homelessness, we did not expect to still be needed. So on our 50th anniversary we made a pledge to work with everyone concerned to create a plan to end homelessness for good.

As part of this commitment we are launching a six-month consultation to produce this comprehensive plan to end homelessness. In Scotland, we signalled our intention to work with people across the sector and beyond to make this a reality with our first national policy conference. This was one of three conference being held, the other two in London and Cardiff, to get the conversation on how we can work together to end homelessness started.

Monday 15 May saw 120 homeless people, professionals and policy makers squeeze into the Lighthouse in Glasgow for a jam-packed day from a diverse range of speakers.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart introduced a message from First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, before announcing a refreshed Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group which will provide strategic leadership and direction and steer collective action on addressing homelessness. He also responded to some challenging questions by members of the audience with personal experience of homelessness.

Rosanne Haggerty brought inspiration from the USA, talking about the work she has done with Community Solutions and the 100,000 Homes initiative which in just six years has now housed over 170,000 people experiencing chronic homelessness using community-based approaches. She concluded her remarks by challenging us to consider, not whether we can end homelessness, but why haven’t we ended homelessness yet?

Matthew Downie from Crisis led a session seeking to gain consensus on what we mean by ending homelessness. An end to rough sleeping is of course a given but our view is we need to be more ambitious than that. You can read more about our proposed definition here, and we’d love to hear what you think.

Nicola Sturgeon’s adviser on poverty, Naomi Eisenstadt, challenged us to think about how to end homelessness when it is more difficult than ever for young people to meet housing costs. She told us that the two things that are needed are love and money – good relationships with colleagues at all levels and across all sectors, and financial support to make these happen. Both are necessary, neither is sufficient by itself.

Mel Young, founder of the Homelessness World Cup, encouraged us to draw on the expertise and creativity of business and social enterprise in a strategic way, while Lesley Fraser of the Scottish Government argued for more bravery, friendliness and creativity within the sector.

There was a buzz in the room as people discussed in smaller groups the innovative and creative approaches we can take and what can be done to prevent homelessness occurring in the first place. With a renewed focus on homelessness in the Scottish Government and a new inquiry into homelessness from the Local Government and Communities Committee at the Scottish Parliament, this is an invigorating time for those working in homelessness in Scotland to make a real impact

Building on this work, Crisis will be taking time over the coming months to consult far and wide on what is required to end homelessness in Scotland, as well as in England and Wales. During our 50th year we are also commissioning and publishing research on how we can encourage better public understanding of homelessness and on what interventions work best and how to make this happen.

In spring 2018 we will publish our plan, drawing all this work together and setting out how, together, we will go about ending homelessness. We are delighted that Kevin Stewart has offered to review this plan through the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group once it is published. To join us on our quest to end homelessness and take part in the consultation, email

We can end homelessness. But we can only do it together.

  • Beth Reid is senior policy officer, policy and campaigns, at Crisis Scotland
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