In September 2016 Shelter Scotland launched our Homelessness: Far From Fixed campaign. Since then, we have spent the last 14 months taking our call for renewed leadership and action to better tackle and prevent homelessness the length and breadth of the country – from Peterhead to the Parliament, from Dumfries to Dundee. We have held 13 street campaign days in locations across the country, secured support from more than 30 organisations across Scotland, had thousands of signatures of support from members of the public, secured cross-party support for our calls and even got the support of some celebrities along the way too (full list of supporters can be found here). In support of our public campaigning work, we have also produced several policy papers looking at key aspects of homelessness in Scotland to better understand the challenges on the ground and make recommendations for action.
In this context, we very much welcome the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee inquiry into homelessness in Scotland and we were delighted that the recent Programme for Government announced the creation of a new, short-life Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group. Shelter Scotland is represented on the core membership of this group along with other key organisations working on the frontline of homelessness in Scotland today.
However, these important and welcome strategic developments are not the end of our campaign. We have always believed that effective campaigns must do more than simply highlight a problem, they must also play a role in driving and informing the change we want to see.
To this end, Shelter Scotland recently submitted to both the new Action Group and the Local Government Committee a paper outlining our recommendations for action that we believe could help drive the right kind of change on the ground for those at risk of or suffering homelessness in Scotland. This paper is now available on our online policy library.
While we recognise that it is not an exhaustive list, our paper aims to summarise our recommendations for action in those areas where we have an established evidence base and insight. These are based on our existing research, our experience supporting over 21,000 clients in Scotland last year and the testimonies of those with lived experience of homelessness that we have supported. The paper attempts to take a whole system approach to homelessness in Scotland covers the following areas:
- Scotland’s Housing Safety Net
- Temporary Accommodation
- Funding for Homelessness Services
- Tackling Social Sector Evictions
- Housing Support for Prisoners and Prison Leavers
- Complex Needs Homelessness
- Prevention and Housing Options
- Future Role of the Housing Regulator and Homelessness Prevention Strategy Group
It is only by now turning our collective focus to tangible, evidence based actions that we can hope to change some of the systemic challenges that result in a household becoming homeless every 19 minutes in Scotland.
I hope that with the political and strategic focus of Scotland’s government and parliament now firmly fixed on homelessness, we can turn this welcome attention into real action for change on the ground.