Public health expert to speak at Housing First event

The link between housing and health will be underlined by leading academic and former chief medical officer for Scotland, Prof. Sir Harry Burns, who has been confirmed as a new speaker at ‘Ramping Up’, the Housing First Scotland Conference, on 22 May in Edinburgh.

Health’s relationships with homelessness is just one of the issues that will be discussed by leading housing professionals, local and national politicians, frontline workers and people with lived experience of homelessness at Edinburgh International Conference Centre. 

Public health expert to speak at Housing First event

Prof. Sir Harry Burns

Speaking will be First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP who will mark a very special year for Housing First in Scotland; a new Pathfinder programme launched in five cities, with more than 60 people in their home already and a target for 830 tenancies by 2021.

Dr Sam Tsemberis, credited with inventing the Housing First approach to prevent and reduce homelessness, will also be addressing the conference as part of a short visit to the UK from his home in North America.

Sir Harry Burns, professor of global public health at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Wellbeing is complex, but I would see it as more than being ill. It is about being in control of one’s life, one’s own decision making. It means you have a purpose in life, you have an optimistic outlook. You are adaptable and resilient and feel safe and secure. I do believe the Housing First approach is the answer. The use of hostels and temporary accommodation is almost Victorian and we are compounding the difficulties people face.”

Maggie Brunjes, chief executive of the Homeless Network, which manages Housing First Scotland and the current Pathfinder programme, said: “We are a network that actively ignites opportunities to learn from one another — people with the highest level of professional expertise alongside those who have been most disadvantaged by the conditions that create homelessness. This year’s conference is no different.

“Public health and an integrated health and social care response will support the expansion of Housing First to scale across Scotland. We are thrilled to welcome Sir Harry Burns and are hopeful he will help us to deliver a key message – that home, health and wellbeing are intrinsically linked. The task ahead for those that want to end homelessness is to build the new and leave the old ways behind.”

To book for this year’s conference get in touch with Janice Higgins at The Homeless Network, Unit 16a, The Adelphi Centre, 12 Commercial Road, Glasgow G5 OPQ , phone 0141 420 7272, email or fax 0141 429 0508 / mob 07834 437 185. More information available at

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