Views Sought On Tackling 'Misery Of Homelessness'

3 May 2017, 06:33

homeless man

MSPs are appealing to the public for ideas on how to tackle the ''misery of homelessness'' in Scotland.

Holyrood's Local Government and Communities Committee wants to find out more about the reasons why people become homeless and whether the services available to those facing housing crises are working effectively.

The committee has issued a call for evidence and also plans to examine international homelessness policies in a bid to find improvements.

MSPs visited homeless women and men in emergency accommodation and shelters in Perthshire, Edinburgh and Glasgow to find out information and met with housing and homelessness charities.

Committee convener Bob Doris 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.''

Homeless charity Simon Community Scotland volunteer Eddie, 61, was homeless for two years after the death of his partner led to a nervous breakdown, called on homeless people contact the committee with their views.

He said he felt suicidal after he found his partner dead from a heart attack in their home.

He said: ''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. 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.''

Eddie, now living in Lanarkshire, said working for the charity has given him his life back.

He added: ''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.''