Catholic bishops discuss homelessness

Alastair Cameron
Alastair Cameron

Representatives of Scottish Churches Housing Action (SCHA) met the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland last week to describe how homelessness affects people across Scotland.

The Bishops agreed to help, both through continuing financial support and keeping clergy and congregations abreast of the issues.

Miriam McHardy, the Bishops’ Conference representative on the board of Scottish Churches Housing Action, said: “SCHA is a powerful example of ecumenism in action. Working on behalf of the Catholic Church, alongside 11 other Christian denominations, it reminds us that Christian service must have two feet: charity or caritas, giving care and support to people who are homeless; and social justice, asking why in 21st century Scotland, too many people do not have a safe and secure home to call their own.”

Most Rev Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow and President of the Bishops’ Conference, said: “Scottish Churches Housing Action reminds us that homelessness remains an issue in today’s Scotland, and SCHA calls Christians to take positive and generous action to assist families and individuals out of homelessness and into a home of their own where they can be safe and happy.”

Alastair Cameron, SCHA chief executive, explained that homelessness is about more than sleeping rough.

“Rough sleeping is the tip of the homelessness iceberg,” he said. “Invisible to most of us are those people who sleep on sofas, or are in temporary accommodation – women who have experienced domestic violence and are now in refuges, for example.”

Alastair Cameron warned that although the published figures on homelessness applications to local authorities are dropping, they mask continuing problems:

He added: “The unmet need for affordable housing is as strong as ever. We need to support the Scottish Government in their target of 50,000 new affordable homes over the next five years. But we also need to challenge the cuts that are happening to local authorities. They have the legal duty to deal with homelessness, and they are struggling to meet the need.”

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