New Vacancies

Ending homelessness in Scotland is possible if we act together on what works and what matters.  

We are looking for dynamic and connected individuals to join our team:   

  • Business & Learning Development Manager (SCP 37-40: £36,052 – £39,216, 35hrs)
  • Digital Engagement Lead (SCP 32-36: £31,709 – £35,067, 35hrs)
  • Change Lead (SCP 32-36: £31,709 – £35,067, 35hrs)

At Homeless Network Scotland we work hard to create an environment that enables everyone to flourish and we actively encourage diversity across the organisation. Find out more here.

Mind the Gap: why we must prioritise prevention

David Ramsay is Change Lead at Homeless Network Scotland.

I’m sitting here at my desk in Glasgow and the weather is dreadful, I’m day-dreaming. My thoughts drift back to the many times I’ve been out in the rain with nowhere to go. These are the times I must not forget as we try to change the system that isn’t working.

I think of what I could have done differently and also what other people could have done to help.

I grew up on a housing estate on the south side of Glasgow, the early 80s with not much to do. Everyone around me was involved in some sort of trouble, either in school or with the police. This is the path I would follow.

Memories and photos are what defines the past, and how people remember the good and not so good times. The photos I don’t have are what sticks out for me. There’s a ten-year gap in my life and I feel this is a waste. Why did it happen?

Okay, where do I start…? I’ve always been a happy person and good around people. So don’t let the smile hide the hurt someone is feeling while trying to navigate this system.

I became involved with social workers from the age of 12 to 16, then I moved into the prison system until the age of 25. I became homeless at 30 due to my relationship ending, as I was struggling with my addiction again.

I couldn’t believe that becoming homeless was like going back to prison. My mental health was at rock bottom, and I couldn’t see any way out. Now I would have to fight my way through another system and all I was looking for was a house.

I had countless workers from all different health care providers without success. Why? What was being missed?

They were good people and really nice, they just never understood me or what I needed or wanted from them. They never asked me either.

I now believe they were delivering a service which had one aim – contain the issue, as long as it doesn’t get any worse it’s okay. I would rather they’d supported me to prevent things happening in the first place.

Maybe I was being offered what I needed but couldn’t see it because of all the barriers I had put up…was this worth a thought or was this my way of coping?

These barriers started to lift once I came into contact with people who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.

I became surrounded by people who encouraged me, challenged me in the right way and supported me when I needed it.

And how my life changed.

The first thing I noticed was I started to feel a part of something. I became more involved in my family, attending more family get-togethers. I was more involved with the community I lived in and I felt I had a place as a citizen of Glasgow. I felt alive for the first time and I was 38 years old.

I started volunteering with the Homeless Network with the aim of changing the current system. I can’t forget the feeling I had when I felt I was punished for not having a home.

I was in a new relationship and managed to bag myself a job after volunteering for a few years -my life was amazing.

The question is how many people are out there who are not receiving the support that is right for them and who have the ability to achieve the same as me?

When someone takes on the responsibility of a job which involves people, they must believe in themselves and others. Work with people and help them identify the strengths they have and give them the opportunity to explore themselves.

This is what happened to me and the results speak for themselves.

Employed: yes. Married: yes. And now I own my home.

Change is possible through prevention – if people are offered the right support at the right time and opportunities are available to them. Believe people can and want to change and they will believe you can help them do it.

A Curious Moment: Rapid Rehousing in Scotland

Doug Gibson is Programme Manager at Homeless Network Scotland.

There’s a saying that people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in a decade.

There’s another one about how we should plan in decades, think in years, work in months, and live in days.

These may be good soundbites but they also speak to a truth, which is that a slant towards long-term planning is vital if we are going to end large-scale homelessness for good. After painstakingly drawing up five-year plans, local authorities and their partners are now underway with their transition towards rapid rehousing as the default response to homelessness.

It is a curious moment. As we arrive in the ‘20s, more and more eyes are looking to Scotland to learn from these plans and the progress being made here, while at the same time challenges continue to arise for those tasked with progressing these plans.

The changes are moving us towards permanent housing for as many people as it suits, towards a reduction in the use of costly temporary accommodation, and towards accessible and compassionate support for all who need it – to the level they need it, and for as long as they need it.

This shift – and specifically the actions within Scotland’s action plan to end homelessness and rough sleeping – will require patience and a willingness to interrogate and adapt our own processes and presumptions. We are all going to have to forgot what we think we know. It will require trust that the long-term plans are the right ones, and a shared commitment to seeing them through.

However, if the progress of 2019 is anything to go by, Scotland can look ahead to 2020 with optimism regardless of the challenges now and those still to come.

Although trends recently have been in the wrong direction with applications rising, homelessness applications have decreased 39 per cent overall since 2008/09. Five regional Housing Options Hubs have been established.

Over a third of authorities are operating Housing First to some extent, with more getting underway all the time. Assertive winter initiatives are again underway on the streets of our towns and cities to help people stay safe and warm and to further empower frontline workers.

When authorities’ five-year transition plans come to a close in 2024 new plans will be drawn up.

Homelessness will never not be an issue to some degree, but if we plan in decades and underestimate what we can do in that time then it will affect far, far fewer people when the ‘30s roll around than it does today.

Homelessness system broken ‘beyond repair’

NEWS RELEASE

Preventing homelessness will not be possible until the current system is replaced with a fairer, more effective and accessible one, according to the charity, Homeless Network Scotland(1).


The charity works to end homelessness in Scotland and is warning that the current system is no longer fit for purpose, at the same time calling on professionals and Scottish society to get behind the real change that’s taking place in 2020 if plans to end long-term homelessness are to succeed.


After almost a decade of decreasing homelessness applications, numbers have increased again in recent years. In 2018/19, 36,465 homelessness applications were made to Scottish local authorities, with 21,095 households entering temporary accommodation during the year, ranging from people whose need is housing only, to those whose homelessness is compounded by other issues such as mental ill health, historical sexual abuse, trauma, addictions and domestic abuse. Those people with the toughest circumstances often find it hard to keep a home, or even a hostel placement, without support, becoming stuck in a ‘revolving door’ of unstable temporary accommodation or rough sleeping.


The current homelessness system is heavily weighted in favour of what is called ‘emergency response’ and does not make it easy for councils and their partners to be proactive and intervene early, even when there is evidence that someone is at risk. Under the Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan several programmes and initiatives are introducing new solutions, with greater emphasis on the role of people who have personal experience of homelessness to help drive change.


Chris, who was homeless for three years, is spending Christmas in his own, permanent home for the first time in a decade through one of those programmes, called Housing First. As well as a permanent home, Chris has a dedicated support worker from The Salvation Army. “This place is a lifeline,” said Chris. “I grew up in a really rough area and I’ve made some bad decisions in my life, but this flat is about turning a corner for me. I’m blessed to have this place, to have another chance.”


Homeless Network Scotland manages the Housing First programme in five areas; Aberdeen/shire, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, said:

“At this time of year, homelessness comes sharply into focus for many people and it’s hard to think long term when we see people in urgent need. But the current system is broken beyond repair, only by putting in place long-term solutions to homelessness can we end it for good. Most importantly, those of us who want to end homelessness in Scotland must listen to what people with personal experience of homelessness are saying, and in the coming year get behind the changes that are already taking shape.”


“The new direction is based on what we already know, that the answer to homelessness is a home. If we keep on saying: ‘What about tonight?’ then there will always be another night. Under Ending Homelessness Together, programmes such as Housing First and the broader Rapid Rehousing Plans in all 32 council areas in Scotland are introducing a new approach to ending homelessness that’s based on evidence of what works (2).”


Under the current system too many people struggle to get the help they need when they need it, ending up in temporary accommodation that can be unsuitable. Vulnerable people struggle to find the right service, getting lost in a system that is intended to help them. For many people this is all too much, leading them to opt out. That catastrophic decision increases rather than reduces trauma, resulting in rough sleeping, spells in prison and in many cases problem alcohol or drug use – and the cycle goes on(2).


At the start of December (2019) a new approach was launched, All In For Change(3), driven by a newly recruited team of 30 frontline workers and people with personal experience of homelessness to take forward the Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together plans and shape future services. In future, collaborative teams will be formed to make decisions ‘with’ those who have lived experience rather than ‘for’ them. The ‘All In for Change’ team starts work in January 2020.


“We are closer than ever to getting a handle on homelessness, preventing it happening and the damage it causes,” added Maggie Brunjes. “Through ‘All In for Change’ the Government, charities and councils are putting great new policy into practice. We must move urgently to implement the local plans in all 32 council areas that have been drawn up to replace what we have with something better, fairer and more effective that has prevention and the views of those with personal experience of homelessness at its centre.


“There is room for all those who want an end to homelessness to be part of the transition from the old way of doing things to the new. I urge everyone to forget what they think they know about homelessness, find out about the changes coming in 2020. We know how to fix it – but it needs everyone to get behind that fix.”


Housing First tenant, Chris:
“Last year at this time I was homeless after relationship breakdown. I was living in a homeless B&B. Being homeless at Christmas was really depressing. I’ve been homeless about five times since I was 16. I’d always just end up slipping back into my old lifestyle. It was when Housing First Scotland got involved that I got this tenancy and it is the most important thing in my life. This is my cornerstone and my foundation to take my life forward. My journey isn’t over yet, but after coming through addiction and getting this flat through Housing First, I am blessed – it’s the best Christmas present I could have.”


Homeless Network Scotland will host a series of public meetings in towns and cities across Scotland in 2020 to explore the new responses to homelessness and seek the views of those who want to help end homelessness. More details will be published at www.homelessnetwork.scot

Ends

Notes to editors:

  1. Formerly Glasgow Homelessness Network (GHN), Homeless Network Scotland operates across the country with partners including Social Bite, Corra Foundation, the public and third sector and the Scottish Government on a range of work aimed at ending homelessness. It was set up originally in 1980 to bring together the different sectors, services and perspectives on homelessness. It manages the Housing First Scotland Pathfinder on behalf of funders; Scottish Government, Social Bite and Merchants’ House Glasgow. In 2018, working with Crisis, it set up the Centre for Homelessness Impact in London, which is now part of the UK Government ‘What Works’ network.
  2. Hard Edges Scotland; published by Lankelly Chase 2019. According to the report, based on official data and survey responses, out of the group identified as experiencing three forms of multiple disadvantage annually in Scotland – substance misuse, offending and homelessness – the largest group, 53,000, experienced homelessness. Those experiencing all three forms of multiple disadvantage over the course of a year was 5,700 people.
  3. The Change Team of around 30 will be represented on a national strategy group on homelessness chaired by the Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart MSP, building a network of those living and working with homelessness to influence policy and strategy at a local and national level, while developing an online shared resource which will ensure everyone keeps up-to-date with what is happening. Supported by Homeless Network Scotland, Cyrenians and Scottish Community Development Centre, the work is funded by Scottish Government and Frontline Network, from St Martin-in-the-Fields.
  4. Housing First is a model developed in the USA in the early 1990s for people with multiple needs beyond housing. It is built on seven principles which are central to ending people’s experience of homelessness:

    o People have a right to a home
    o Flexible support is provided for as long as is needed
    o Housing and support are separate
    o Individuals have choice and control
    o An active engagement approach is used
    o The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations
    o A harm reduction approach is used.

  5. The Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan is here
  6. Quick facts;

    o A person is more than eight times more likely to become homeless if household income is under £10k (includes benefit levels) than over £20k
    o On any given night around 11,000 people in Scotland are in temporary accommodation, people stay too long and the cost is too high.
    o Temporary furnished flats (most often used) average around £300 per week, which is double the cost of the average UK mortgage. This discourages people taking work at minimum wage as rent would be unaffordable.

For more information contact Martin Gavin – Head of External Relations at the Homeless Network Scotland, mgavin@homelessnetwork.scot