At Shelter Scotland we’ve been working on an exciting new project bringing together lots of different strands of our work. So next week, we’ll be launching a suite of education resources for primary and secondary schools in Scotland on our website.
While this is a new initiative, it has roots in our homelessness: Far From Fixed that we launched last year. Through this campaign, we have been raising the issue of homelessness at national and local level and calling for action to help the 28,000 households who find themselves homeless each year. We need strategic direction and leadership at a national level, to reduce the numbers of people applying as homeless in Scotland, and to ensure that all local authorities are adhering to their statutory duty to provide a home for everyone. Our campaign also seeks to raise awareness of homelessness in Scotland; why it happens, what people go through, and why more needs to be done to ensure nobody faces this tragedy.
Ahead of this campaign, we carried out some research across Scotland. What we found was surprising. Our research showed that the youngest age group we surveyed – 18-24 year olds – were the least likely to believe that homelessness can happen to anyone. We knew that we still had a long way to go to educate and raise awareness of housing issues across Scotland and a great place to start was in schools, as there are currently 2,524 schools in Scotland, educating 684,415 children and young people.
We know that young people are overrepresented in the homelessness system. With a growing private rented sector, and changes to young people’s entitlement to housing benefit, more young people than ever are at real risk of needing housing advice and support. Last year, 46% of our clients were aged between 16-34. So why are Scotland’s young people not aware of the issues?
We decided to begin tackling this by producing a range of online lesson resources for schools. Together with teachers, we have developed a range of Social Studies resources in line with the Curriculum for Excellence for both Primary and Secondary schools across Scotland. Available as free downloads on our website, this material covers homelessness, housing, poverty and welfare – working to change attitudes and perceptions in these areas while complementing existing school subjects and resources.
We hope that, with these tools, teachers will feel well equipped to begin these discussions in the classroom. Over 6000 children are homeless in Scotland right now, statistically, that means over 2 children in every primary school in Scotland are homeless. More must be done to ensure that children recognise the importance of a safe home to all aspects of life. We believe that these resources will be a strong foundation for this.