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Conference to hear call for new National Homelessness Strategy

Shelter Scotland holds Annual Homelessness Conference

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Members of a group of people with lived experience of homelessness – named Time for Change – will share their experiences of homelessness in a workshop session during Shelter Scotland’s Annual Homelessness Conference taking place today (Wednesday 22 March) in Edinburgh.

The conference theme is ‘Homelessness: Far From Fixed’ which is also Shelter Scotland’s current national campaign. The campaign is calling for a new National Homelessness Strategy for Scotland, which Shelter Scotland said should be informed and designed with input from people with lived experience of homelessness – such as members of the Time for Change group.

The Time for Change group, hosted by Shelter Scotland, is a team of volunteers in Glasgow who have all experienced homelessness. As well as mentoring, they offer ‘assisted homelessness presentations’ where they will accompany people and advise them through the process of applying to the council for homelessness assistance. The service is based on members’ own experiences of being turned away or not being allowed to make a homeless application – despite it being their right. Many of those turned away end up rough sleeping or sofa surfing with friends or family. The group believes that knowing your rights is key to securing accommodation.

Keynote speaker Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities Angela Constance will address conference on the place of homelessness within the ‘wider communities’ agenda, linking to other policy developments such as the child poverty bill and the transfer of social security powers to Scotland.

Delegates will hear from other individuals with lived experience of homelessness from across Scotland throughout the day as well as from academics and homelessness practitioners from Northern Ireland and Wales, and together conference will consider new ways of tackling homelessness and the potential for development of a new National Homelessness Strategy for Scotland.

Alison Watson, Deputy Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

“Homelessness in Scotland is far from fixed which is why we are calling for a new National Homelessness Strategy.

“We are convinced that the only way the root causes of homelessness can be tackled is by hearing and learning from people with lived experience of homelessness.

“At this year’s conference our Time for Change core group will deliver a workshop using their own experience of homelessness, rough sleeping, sofa surfing and their frustrations with the current housing system. I look forward to their session and seeing what people learn from it.”

Some of the quotes from the Time for Change group members that will be used in their workshop session, include:

“I wasn’t properly assessed, so I didn’t get a place that suited my needs/issues so ended up in a worse off position.”

“Support services ‘gave up’ on me, because I didn’t fit in with what they thought I should be doing, so I lost hope, no-one wanted to help me.”

“I was treated differently – and because I wasn’t aware of what my rights were I couldn’t answer for myself.”

“I was scared that the council would notify the police or social work if I presented as they done it to my friend, it was easier just to stay on the street.”

“The support service that was helping me lost its funding and I was left with no one.”

“The process of trying to keep my home, after eviction process had started, was not made to be easy. It was so complicated and I ‘buried my head in the sand’ so I was evicted.”