Every June the Scottish Government releases a set of statistics showing how many households applied as homeless over the past year and a whole spreadsheet of information about those people. Jessica Husbands of Shelter Scotland, a self professed lover of stats, found the spreadsheet a minefield of information. By examining the data she discovered some very disturbing trends. She noted that:
- “For the first time in 9 years homelessness is on the rise-34,972 households made a homelessness application in 2017-18. This included 14,075 children.
- 10,933 households were in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2018 including 6,615 children and we know that on average households with children spend over 6 months there.
- Both the number of households and the number of children in temporary accommodation has risen for the fourth year running.
- There is a huge problem with councils losing contact with people who are seeking assistance with housing issues: councils lost contact with 1 in 5 households who asked for advice with their housing and 1 in 7 households who made a homeless application.
- More and more people who are homeless have support needs such as mental health issues or medical conditions: 47% and rising.
- Certain groups are persistently overrepresented in homelessness statistics; young people, prison leavers, care leavers and former members of the armed forces.
- 1 in every 16 households who are assessed as homeless have already applied as homeless before in the same year. Clearly the support they received first time round wasn’t sufficient.”
With the above in mind, the philosophy of Social Bite, a Scottish Social Enterprise set up by Josh Littlejohn and Alice Thompson is somewhat compelling. Social Bite state “What we need to do is to collectively focus on the issue. We need people from all walks of life in Scotland to come together and stick up for the most vulnerable among us. Social Bite is on a mission to bring Scotland together to build a collaborative movement to end homelessness here. To do that we need to make houses available to the homeless, we need to fund a support resource for people to sustain their tenancies and we need to integrate these vulnerable and marginalised people back into society- where they belong.”
I am pleased to say that 7 staff members of Mitchells Roberton are taking the opportunity to support Social Bite’s work by taking part in the world’s largest sleepout “Sleep in the Park”. We will be sleeping out in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow on the 8 December 2018. Our sleeping bags have been dusted down and our woolly hats looked out and we hope to raise as much money as possible to help develop longer term solutions to help tackle homelessness.