Help homelessness closer to home

As people are forced to leave their homes behind in all parts of Scotland, and across many parts of the world, it can be easy to feel powerless – and difficult to know where to help. On World Homeless Day (10 October 2022), people who play a role in their local community are being urged to ‘think global – act local’ to help everyone in Scotland to have a safe place to call home.

The call coincides with the launch of findings from a test-of-change programme exploring what happened when two communities in Glasgow – Pollok and the Gorbals – set about to prevent homelessness and to share what they designed and discovered.

All homelessness starts in a community. But not all communities are at equal risk. The cost-of-living crisis and the social and economic impact of the pandemic will lead to more pressure on communities and more people becoming homeless. Work to protect homes and prevent homelessness is needed across many different fronts – including more focus at a community level.

Homeless Network Scotland wanted to test a new approach to tackle this uneven distribution of homelessness risk, at the heart of the places most affected by it. The test was to understand what happens when ‘subject experts’ collaborate with ‘local experts’ and ‘lived experience’ experts to combine knowledge, insight and problem solving at a local level.

Scottish Community Development Centre and Unity expertly guided this exploratory place-based approach and, with thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund, the partnership were able to support local people to target local investment too. 6 local partners and anchor organisations led the design and delivery of proactive new initiatives – Bridging the Gap, Dawsun, Glen Oaks Housing Association, New Gorbals Housing Association, Spider Arts and SWAMP.

All partners believe that less applications for help with homelessness were made to the local council from both communities during the period of the programme. 6 key themes and 8 key considerations have also been highlighted to help kickstart more place-based approaches to prevent homelessness earlier, and closer to home.  This includes :

  • That the enormous goodwill to help people often centres around towns and cities. But all homelessness starts in a community and acting local, in a range of different ways, can help prevent homelessness earlier, and closer to home.

  • Community Planning Partnerships should include ‘preventing homelessness’ as a priority outcome in Local Outcomes Improvement Plans and Locality Plans.

  • To harness the position and expertise of community groups and structures to:
    • Ask about housing and
    • Act to protect homes and prevent homelessness.

A place-based approach means elected members, community planning partnerships, community councils, other local governance and decision-making structures — along with the wealth of local services, groups and networks. Together we can protect homes and prevent homelessness earlier, and closer to home.

View the results of the test-of-change programme and read a blog from David Ramsay from Homeless Network Scotland. Interested in what your place can do? Get in touch for a chat with the team at Homeless Network Scotland on 0141 420 7272 or email