Conference to hear call for new national homelessness strategy
A new National Homelessness Strategy for Scotland, which is informed and designed with input from people with lived experience of homelessness, is the only way the root causes of homelessness can be tackled, a conference will hear today.
Delegates at Shelter Scotland’s Annual Homelessness Conference in Edinburgh will hear from a range of people with direct experience of homelessness, including members of a project called Time for Change which is run by people with lived experience of homelessness who now help homeless people fight for their right to emergency accommodation.
The conference theme is ‘Homelessness: Far From Fixed’ which is also the housing and homelessness charity’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.
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 says that knowing your rights is key to securing accommodation.
Keynote speaker Angela Constance, cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, 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.”