Housing minister to turn spotlight on ending homelessness today

Kevin Stewart
Kevin Stewart

Scotland’s housing minister will today pledge his support to national homelessness charity Crisis as it starts to build a plan to end homelessness in Scotland for good.

Kevin Stewart MSP’s support comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also pledged to work with Crisis to achieve its aims of ending homelessness.

Mr Stewart will be speaking at the charity’s conference, Ending Homelessness; Working Together to Think Differently, in Glasgow, which is bringing together international speakers, renowned thought leaders and policy and practice experts to help shape the future agenda on ending homelessness.

Throughout its 50th year, Crisis will be working with a wide range of organisations from the homelessness sector and beyond to build a national plan to end the most acute forms of homelessness once and for all. The charity aims to bring together everything needed to make this happen, including a national plan, consultations in Scotland, Wales and England and a large scale programme of research. It is also calling on the public to join its #EverybodyIn campaign and show their support for ending homelessness.

Around 54,000 people approach their council for help with homelessness every year in Scotland, while 660 people sleep rough on a typical night.

Kevin Stewart said: “We have some of the strongest rights for homeless people in the world and good progress is being made nationally, with a fall in the number of homeless applications.

“But there is more to do to increase the pace of change across the country. It is important we work closely with all of our partners, not just in housing but in other areas such as health, to address the underlying causes of homelessness. The work of Crisis staff and volunteers is valued by this government and therefore it’s vital we use that frontline experience to shape the future direction of homelessness policy in this country.

“That is why I’ll be announcing later today that we’ll be strengthening the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group by bringing in new members and involving Ministers from across Government to ensure a joined up approach to homelessness at both a national and local level. The Group will play a leading role in responding to the recommendations of Crisis’s Commission.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “This year, Crisis marks its 50th anniversary, but this is by no means cause for celebration. The reason we’re still here, is because we’re still needed. Thousands of people are sleeping on Scotland’s streets, on sofas and are being left for too long in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

“We want a future where we’re no longer needed, where no one has to suffer homelessness because they can’t find a place to live. Scotland already has some of the most progressive, human-rights based legislation on homelessness in the world, but we know there’s more to be done. Over the coming year we’ll be bringing together the people, evidence and resources to build on that, and to help make our vision a reality. We know we can’t do this alone, but we’re ready for the challenge, and I hope that in 50 years’ time Crisis - and homelessness - will have been consigned to the history books.”

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