Friday 25th November 2022 – 12 midnight until 3am
In the early hours of this morning, 17 staff and volunteers from Simon Community Scotland and 20 volunteers from a variety of partners across Glasgow took part in our latest rough sleepers count.
Volunteer support was made up from Glasgow Health & Social Care Partnership Accommodation Team, Glasgow City Mission, The Halliday Foundation, Police Scotland, the NHS, Help the Homeless Glasgow, The Kindness Group and The Invisibles.
This is not our first planned street count, we do it at least twice a year, it takes knowledge and careful planning. Most critically it takes people with lived experience to inform where we search, how to respect people’s privacy and most importantly what not to do.
All staff and volunteers received a H&S briefing and were provided with emergency contact numbers and split into 17 groups of 2. Three staff members stayed in the office and the teams called in every 20/30 minutes to provide updates on their whereabouts, what streets/areas had been covered and recording any findings. All teams had one staff member trained in Naloxone and as such, every team had a kit with them, they were also provided with a torch and map of areas to cover.
Number of rough sleepers identified
During the course of the count we identified 7 people rough sleeping in the city. This included 4 people directly in the city centre.
As in previous counts, there was evidence of some begging activity where sleeping bags and mats were stored for the following day. Some injecting sites were also identified for teams to follow up.
The weather was cloudy with some showers and a temperature of 8 degrees.
Split into 17 groups, the team covered a huge area, the city centre, west end, east end, southside and the north of the city.
The teams systematically checked lanes, bin shelters, car parks, abandoned spaces, hidden areas (known sites to our Street Team) and suspected or potential sites. We used intelligence from the public, Police Scotland, services users themselves and partners working in the sector.
We engage regularly with local police and HSCP Neighbourhoods and Sustainability and local housing associations to discuss rough sleeping in areas across Glasgow, not only the city centre. This is mainly focussed on closes and bin sheds. We have had no recent intelligence about specific bin sheds etc to target.
Our own Street Team have extensive knowledge of regular rough sleeping sites across the city.
Contact was made with NCP and QPark who advised no rough sleepers.
Parks and Gardens
No recent intelligence about rough sleeping or activity in parks so teams did not enter. Knowledge of one rough sleeper within Glasgow green, which was logged.
Accuracy of Count
There is always the likelihood that we would not find everyone as some people make great efforts to be undetected. Similarly, there is a possibility that people might be in more remote locations outside the city centre, some of which may be in parks and cemeteries, although we have had no reported sightings.
What does this tell us?
Numbers are still relatively low with accommodation available across the city. We have concerns for the rising number of people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) who are rough sleeping, or at risk of rough sleeping.
Our Street Team, Helpline and Access Hub
Our Glasgow Street Team work 7-days per week from 7am-11pm, building relationships and trust with people who are rough sleeping, or at risk of rough sleeping in the city. This includes people who regularly beg in Glasgow and people who are staying in B&Bs, hostels and hotels in the city centre.
Our Access Hub, located at 389 Argyle Street, Glasgow G2 8LR, is open 7-days a week from 9am-5pm (10am start on Wednesday for staff training) providing information, care, advice and support.
Our Helpline 0800 027 7466 is available 24-hours a day for people to access information, or for members of the public to alert us to people they are concerned about.
By Elaine Barrett, Service Lead, RSVP Street Team