Holyrood committee asks the public for views on stopping ‘the misery of homelessness’
The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee is asking for the public’s views on homelessness
Homelessness: Picture credit - PA
A Scottish Parliament committee is looking for the public’s views on how homelessness can be tackled across the country.
The Local Government and Communities Committee wants to know more about the reasons people become homeless and whether the services available to those facing housing crises are working effectively.
Committee convener, Bob Doris MSP said: “Everyone deserves to have a safe place that they can call home. However, on the committee’s visits to homeless shelters across Scotland, we heard that many still face the misery of homelessness and rough sleeping in our cities and rural areas.
“The homeless people we met said that relationship breakdowns, disruptive family life or mental health issues were the main reasons for their lives spiralling out of control – leading to a chaotic life on the streets or sofa-surfing with nowhere permanent to live.
“We now want to hear views on a wide variety of housing and homelessness issues across Scotland. For example, how can we better support those with multiple or complex needs who are in danger of losing their homes? And is emergency accommodation meeting the needs of those desperately in search for shelter and support?
“Our committee also want to explore best practice internationally when it comes to tackling homelessness. For example, in Finland the ‘housing first’ model aims to offer housing as quickly as possible.
“The idea being that once the person has a stable home, they can address issues that caused them to be at risk of homelessness in the first place.”
As part of their research, MSPs visited homeless women and men in emergency accommodation and shelters in Perthshire, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as meeting with organisations that provide frontline support.
Eddie is 61 and is currently living in Lanarkshire.
He was homeless for two years after his life spiralled out of control following the death of his partner.
He said: “I heard something upstairs and found that my partner had collapsed to the floor. She’d had a heart attack out of the blue, and had died by the time I got to her.
“That’s when my life hit rock bottom. Looking back now, I know that I rushed into a new relationship out of grief and it was the wrong thing to do. I ended up inheriting my new partner’s debts and this eventually led to me having a nervous breakdown.
“I was at a really low point in my life. I was drinking a lot and had suicidal thoughts. One night, I got picked up by the police after they found me on the banks of the Clyde where I was thinking about ending it all.
“I lost my home, my family, and felt completely isolated. I was put into temporary accommodation miles away from where I’m from and this just made my feelings of loneliness and desperation worse.
“But one day, I had a Simon Community Scotland leaflet through the letterbox and that’s when things started to change.”
Eddie is now a full-time volunteer at the homeless charity, where he helps people who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Eddie added: “I’ve now got my life back, thanks to Simon Community Scotland, and I’m helping people who have fallen on hard times.
“I’d encourage homeless people, groups and the general public to send across their views to the Holyrood committee. This is a chance for your voice to be heard.”
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