Two thirds of Scots ‘fearful’ of homeless people

homeless-man-stockA study into Scots’ attitudes to homelessness has revealed that two-thirds of the country, equivalent to around 3 million adults, never stop to speak to homeless people.

According to Street Soccer Scotland, who commissioned the research, 41% of people report being “fearful” of stopping to speak to rough sleepers.

The research shows that it is the youngest people (aged 16-24) who are least likely to stop and speak to those forced to sleep on the streets, with only a quarter (25%) saying they would do so. This age group was also the most likely to say they are fearful of speaking to rough sleepers, with 48% reporting they are afraid to do so.

Last year, 9,187 homelessness applications were from people aged 16-24.

Older age groups are less likely to be anxious about speaking to rough sleepers, with 38% of 55-64 year olds and 43% of those aged over 65 reporting being fearful.

David Duke, founder and chief executive of Street Soccer Scotland, said: “Having experienced homelessness I know what it’s like to spend your days alone, with no one to speak to. I also know the difference that having someone to talk to can make when you’ve lost all hope.

“I’m really shocked at the number of people who say they don’t stop to speak to people who are homeless, and especially by the number who say they’re afraid to.

“Instead of sympathy, they’re feeling fear and we have to ask why, and how we can change their perceptions.”

David Duke was homeless for three years before finding a home. He went on to set up Street Soccer Scotland, a social enterprise which uses football inspired training and personal development to help homeless men and women.

It is estimated that each year around 5,000 people are forced to sleep rough on Scotland’s streets.

David Duke, who sits on the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group set up by the Scottish Government, added: “Today in Scotland, great strides are being made to eradicate homelessness with progressive laws and a willing government. However, unfortunately some things have stayed exactly the same.

“The lack of dignity afforded to people experiencing homelessness, the prejudice and stigma that comes with what is the worst time of your life, is holding our society back. We need to do more to change that.”

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