Charity launches digital service for homeless people and wider community in Edinburgh

A digital service to add to the support available for people in Edinburgh who are homeless has been developed by researchers and community partners, including leading Scottish homelessness charity Simon Community Scotland.

Charity launches digital service for homeless people and wider community in Edinburgh

Picture credit: Iain McLean Photography

The website and an accompanying app - called Street Support Edinburgh -provides advice, support and resources for homeless and vulnerable people, plus the wider Edinburgh community who want to help and emergency services personnel.

Street Support Edinburgh has been developed as part of a project by the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Homeless Inclusion and Health (CHIH) and the Manchester-based Street Support Network. Information includes providers of meals, drop-in services, food banks and accommodation.

The digital hub also features advice on financial help, health services and training and employment opportunities. Organisers said the resource provides a vital service to vulnerable people and the community by providing accessible information in one easy-to-use location. Advice on Covid-19 and support available during the pandemic has also been added.

The information hub has been launched by the University of Edinburgh and Simon Community Scotland, which runs the Streetwork service in Edinburgh. Researchers at the University’s School of Informatics have assisted with technical aspects of the project. Street Support Edinburgh features content from more than 30 organisations and has been backed by both Police Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council.

The platform is the first resource of its type in Scotland. Organisers are hoping to offer similar digital provision elsewhere in the country.

Dr Fiona Cuthill, director of the Centre for Homelessness and Inclusion Health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Street Support Edinburgh is a great opportunity for the University of Edinburgh to build on our existing community networks and to work together to help to reduce homelessness in our city.”

The Street Support Network has assisted in the launch of similar Street Support services in several locations in England, such as Portsmouth and Cambridge.

Lorraine McGrath, chief executive, Simon Community Scotland, said: “A year of Covid-19 has been hugely challenging, but it has also forced all of us to rethink how we deliver our services and reach the most vulnerable people on our streets, with some incredible outcomes.

“Lockdown created the opportunity for organisations in Edinburgh to come together and almost eradicate rough sleeping in the city. It has shown us what we can achieve by collaborating, being creative and keeping people at the heart of what we do.

“Street Support Edinburgh is a natural progression for us in connecting the talent, expertise and commitment of people and organisations across the city in preventing homelessness and the need for anyone to ever have to sleep on our streets.”

The Street Support Edinburgh website is available to access here. The app is available to download from the Apple App and Google Play stores.

Colin Beck, chair of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “I welcome this innovative way of providing information, which will help people connect. Knowing how and where to get help and support is a crucial component of feeling included. I realise there are access issues for some people and we must search for solutions to help people connect.”

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