At Shelter Scotland we’ve had some interesting feedback to our “Wake Up Scotland” campaign so far.  While one aim of any campaign is always to generate feedback, some respondents have queried the focus of the campaign so I thought it was worth me outlining the background to the campaign and why it is pitched as it is.

“Wake up Scotland” highlights the plight of the 4,574 homeless children who will wake up in temporary accommodation this Christmas.  It asks supporters and others who feel strongly about that to send a message to the First Minister asking his government to introduce new minimum standards for temporary accommodation.

It is not a new request from Shelter Scotland.  In fact, it comes from a report prepared by Shelter Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland in January 2011.  We have consistently called for those standards to be introduced since then.

All of that work, since January 2011, has been directed at Scottish ministers because the relevant powers (over housing and homelessness) are devolved. The powers to act lie in the hands of the Scottish Government, headed by the First Minister. I have been in a meeting this very morning with Scottish Government officials restating that we are seeking this change.

That does not mean that all the problems facing homeless children are in the sphere of influence of the Scottish Government. Welfare reform and the overall budget settlement for Scotland are legitimate areas of concern on which we have campaigned and will continue to campaign.  But those are not the focus of this campaign – which is for the Scottish Government to use its devolved powers to introduce minimum standards for temporary accommodation.

As it happens, our Shelter colleagues in England are running a parallel campaign “Wake Up Cameron” also highlighting the plight of homeless children in England and asking the Westminster government to use its powers in England to tackle that problem.

With everyone’s support we can ensure that, next Christmas, homeless children who have to spend any time in temporary accommodation will at least have the safety net of minimum standards in that accommodation.

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