Tackling rough sleeping this winter
Scottish Government Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group
New actions will be put in place to further tackle rough sleeping this winter, as recommended by the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.
Backed by an initial £328,000 worth of investment from government and group members, the measures include increasing emergency accommodation in areas with the greatest numbers of rough sleepers, making personal budgets available to frontline workers to meet immediate housing needs, and supporting greater use of the emergency Nightstop service.
Since its first meeting on 5 October, the action group has worked at pace, and closely with local authorities and partners, to identify areas where there is the greatest need and actions that can have the most impact.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and Action Group chair and Chief Executive of Crisis UK, Jon Sparkes, to announce the plans on a visit to homelessness charity Streetwork.
The First Minister said:
“I want to thank the action group for the serious and urgent work they have done. These actions, which the government accepts in full and will roll out immediately, will provide more support for those who find themselves homeless and more safe and warm places to stay this winter.
“We have a shared commitment to eradicate rough sleeping and end homelessness which is why we established the action group, backed by £50 million to drive change.
“While we take these immediate steps to help those who find themselves at risk of rough sleeping this winter, the group’s work now continues as we strive to end rough sleeping for good.”
Jon Sparkes said:
“As the cold weather bites, it’s critical to support as many people sleeping on the streets as possible. However, the longer-term focus of the action group is on sustainable solutions which prevents people rough sleeping in the first place and our focus is now on looking at the practical and systems changes required to end rough sleeping for good.
“These proposals mean that immediate, effective support can be given to people sleeping rough this winter, as well as making longer-term solutions easier to access.
“The effort and energy of action group members to work quickly to identify practical support along with the willingness of council leaders and sector colleagues to commit to more flexible practices at short notice has been remarkable.
“The decision to accept our recommendations and the fact that the First Minister is leading on the Scottish Government’s commitment to accept our recommendations and provide additional funding is vitally important. Not only will this ensure plans are put into place as quickly as possible but it also inspires confidence that the leadership required to meet the long-term goal of ending homelessness in Scotland is in place.”
The full recommendations of the group are available online. Focused on the areas identified as the greatest numbers of rough sleepers they include:
- Increase emergency accommodation in Edinburgh, and increase outreach capacity in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen
- Boost multi-agency partnership working, adopting ‘by name lists’ and empowering front line workers through direct access to services and dedicated accommodation
- Making personal budgets and/or flexible emergency fund available for front line staff to employ where maximum flexibility is required to meet immediate housing needs
- At times of extreme weather, ensure flexible provision is available in Edinburgh and Glasgow for anyone who will not use winter night shelters, despite all efforts
- Maximise use of Nightstop – which provide young people with emergency accommodation for up to 2 weeks in the homes of approved volunteers – in Edinburgh and support implementation in Glasgow by January 2018