Campaign highlighting ‘national shame’ of homelessness hits Glasgow
Shelter Scotland’s Homelessness: Far From Fixed campaign reached Glasgow on Friday to galvanise public and political support to fix what the charity calls the “human tragedy of homelessness in Scotland”.
The housing and homelessness charity has called Scotland’s current level of homelessness a “national badge of shame” for one of the world’s richest nations. It has accused local and national government of taking their eye off the ball in recent years on efforts to tackle and prevent homelessness in Scotland.
According to statistics from March 2016, 4,504 households in Glasgow were assessed as homelessness last year and 2,010 households including 1,391 children, were found to be living in temporary housing.
Shelter Scotland advisors and volunteers opened 4,313 cases in the city last year, while calls from Glasgow represented 22% of all inquiries to Shelter Scotland’s free national helpline.
The campaign urges members of the public and politicians to sign up to its demands of local and national government. To coincide with the campaign launch, Shelter Scotland released new research by YouGov which showed 75% of people in Scotland agree that homelessness is a problem and that 54% agree the Scottish Government could do more to tackle it.
The campaign’s four main demands are:
Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We bring our campaign to Glasgow to show people that it is frankly a disgrace that homelessness still exists in Scotland today. We are one of the richest nations in the world, yet nearly 30,000 households became homeless last year and more than 65,000 households approached their local authority for help with housing.
“It’s shameful that each year there are thousands of people sleeping rough on our streets, that there are thousands more hidden homeless people sofa surfing with friends and that tomorrow morning more than 5,700 children in Scotland will wake up in temporary accommodation without a permanent home of their own.
“Shelter Scotland thinks that the time for good rhetoric and resting on our laurels is over. We need to face up to the reality that despite good progress in recent years, we are still failing too many people in our society, particularly the most vulnerable, with the most basic of human rights, the right to shelter and a home.”
Alison Watson added: “We are demanding that national and local government do more to tackle homelessness in Scotland. We want to see a safe and secure home for everyone, a strong housing safety net to catch people when they do become homeless, to make sure preventative help is available for people to keep and find a home and we want to ensure that no-one should ever have to sleep rough on Scotland’s streets.
“As a wealthy nation, why is it that we still cannot ensure that there is a home for everyone? What does that say about Scotland as a society today? It’s a fundamental right that everyone should have a roof over their head and Shelter Scotland will not stop campaigning until this vision becomes a reality.”
Alison Watson concluded: “Homelessness can happen to anyone. People become homeless through chance not choice. Our ‘Far From Fixed’ campaign highlights that we still have a long way to go to end homelessness. We know that we have the policy levers and powers in Scotland to build on our strong progress to date and make this happen, but do we have the political will? If we don’t then we are concerned that other policy priorities such as improving health, wellbeing and educational attainment will ultimately be undone if we cannot ensure that people have a home to live in.
“It is only by being bold and actually living up to our rhetoric and ambition of being a progressive and socially just nation that we can start to finally fix homelessness in Scotland.”
In support of its ‘Homelessness: Far From Fixed’ campaign launch, Shelter Scotland has produced a detailed policy paper outlining its vision of the next steps and priority actions for homelessness policy in Scotland and the need for a new National Strategy on Homelessness.