We walk a tightrope every day.
We’re pretty good at balancing. But there is always a danger we’ll fall and miss something,
or miss someone.
That danger feels like it is increasing, because there is a growing need for our support. More people are begging and sadly 35 people (that we know of) were rough sleeping on the streets of Edinburgh on Sunday 13 November.
We’re doing all we can to support people on the streets; walking, cycling and driving across Edinburgh, 365 days a year, in all weathers, engaging with people rough sleeping. We support people through our Support Hub on Holyrood Road, via our 24 hour crisis Helpline, emergency Rapid Access accommodation and Housing First.
We also now have 15 Simon Community Scotland homes in Edinburgh that we can support people into and provide ongoing support.
But we want and need to do more.
The overwhelming thing that we are speaking to people about is their mental health. People are worried, stressed, scared and feel very isolated. People are missing a sense of connection. The pandemic has been particularly cruel to the people we support –as the world returns to ‘normal’ and reconnects, the people we support are more isolated, more vulnerable and more at risk than ever with the cost of living crisis.
Last week we launched Wellbeing Wednesday’s in our Streetreads Library. This is a space for people to come, to just be there, to hang out, to access support and to connect. Reducing isolation reduces the risk of people losing their tenancies and returning to rough sleeping and will reduce drug related harm and deaths.
17 people came to our first session. One third are currently in their own tenancies, but are worried about heating, eating and sustaining their tenancy this winter.
We supported one woman who was rough sleeping immediately into emergency accommodation. Another two people received vital health treatments, four people received mental health appointments and will be accompanied to these appointments, 17 people received emergency food provision, eight people received hair and beauty treatments, four people accessed books and all of the people who came made connections, accessed services and told their stories in a safe space. This was in one day, imagine what we could provide if we could do more.
‘Look around at these faces, smiling and laughing, probably for the first time in a long time, Hope and laughter that’s what we needed’ (Martin, entrenched in long term homelessness)
The cost of living crisis is affecting and worrying everyone but for those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness this could be a life or death winter. More people than ever will be coming to terms with not being able to heat their homes or provide food for their children. This is a crisis point. But we can provide packs with heating, warmth and nutrition to people who need it most, with your help.
What I can say, hand on heart, to people considering supporting our Emergency Winter Appeal is that your support could save a life this winter.
To support our Winter Crisis Appeal 2022 please visit justgiving.com/campaign/wintercrisisappeal2022
Thanks for reading
Service Lead, Edinburgh Street Team