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Let’s help get rid of Hate Crime!

What is Hate Crime?

Hate crime is a crime motivated by malice or ill will towards a social group because of:

  • Sexual orientation.
  • Religion/faith.
  • Transgender/gender identity

(Offences (Aggravated by Prejudice) Act 2010).

Homelessness and being a victim of crime

Research has shown people who are homeless are more likely to victims of crime. In fact, you’re 13 times more likely to experience violence. People who are homeless are also more likely to be a victim of Hate Crime.

We can all help tackle Hate Crime in Scotland

Hate crime is an issue for every community and every person is Scotland. The Scottish Government has identified tackling Hate Crime as a priority within the Scottish Strategy for Justice. Working alongside local authorities, Community Safety Glasgow and Police Scotland, we all have responsibility to tackle this.

We don’t want anyone to go through this experience

Simon Community Scotland wants to help increase awareness of Hate Crime and prevent Hate Crime from happening,  We will support people as best we can to report Hate Crimes. We link in with specialised support services and can help those affected.

Getting help

If you are homeless or at risk of being homeless and have/are experiencing Hate Crime,  please come and speak with our trained staff at The Simon Community Hub, 72 London Road, Glasgow G1 5NP or call our 24hr helpline 08000277466

 

There is more information available here:

Media Release: Confidence building cycling course for Simon Community Scotland

Media Release 15th June 2017

 

People supported by Glasgow-based homeless charity, Simon Community Scotland, were given a skills and confidence boost by taking part in an Essential Cycling Skills course from Cycling Scotland today.

Ten people who receive support from Simon Community Scotland took part in the course at the Charity’s Ballater Street centre in Glasgow.

Many of those taking part in the Essential Cycling Skills course will go on to take part in Pedal for Scotland’s 45 mile Classic Challenge from Glasgow to Edinburgh on 10th September 2017.

William Wright from Cycling Scotland, said, “The Essential Cycling Skills course is for adults who are new to cycling, or who haven’t ridden a bike for a long time. As well as covering many of the technical and safety aspects of riding a bike, the course also serves to boost confidence and self-esteem of those who take part – something that can benefit everyone across many areas of life. Going on to take part in Pedal for Scotland is a great achievement for anyone, and we’re delighted Simon Community Scotland have entered a team to take part in the Classic Gold Challenge on 10 September.”

Hugh Hill, Director of Services and Development at Simon Community Scotland, said, “There’s nothing good about being homeless. It’s particularly bad for your physical and mental health and has an average life expectancy of almost half that of the general population. Cycling on the other hand is proven to improve your health and your wellbeing which is why at Simon Community Scotland we’ve been promoting cycling within the homeless community and with our staff.  It’s good for your health, your happiness, your purse and the environment! What’s not to like?”

Entry for Pedal for Scotland on 10th September is now open. An adult place on the Classic Challenge is £28 (£19 concession), while the Big Belter is priced at £48 per adult. Enter online at www.pedalforscotland.org.
– ENDS –

 For further information please contact:

William Wright, Cycling Scotland

0141 229 5350 / 07795 048042

williamwright@cycling.scot

NOTES TO EDITORS:

 Pedal for Scotland

  1. Pedal for Scotland is organised by Cycling Scotland, the lead organisation for cycling promotion in Scotland. Cycling Scotland is the national cycle training, promotion, events and engineering organisation for Scotland. With grant funding from Transport Scotland we are working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option.

www.cycling.scot.

Cycling Scotland is a recognised Scottish Charity no. SC 029760

  1. Transport Scotland is the national transport agency for Scotland, delivering the Scottish Government’s vision for transport.

www.transport.gov.scot

  1. Pedal for Scotland was established in 1999 as a way to encourage more people to cycle. Cycling 50 miles in a day demonstrates the considerable distances it is possible to achieve by bike, and encourages people to leave the car at home for short journeys.
    1. Pedal for Scotland event is delivered in partnership with eight local authorities and support services such as Police Scotland, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and the St Andrews Ambulance Association.

    pedalforscotland.org/

Simon Community Scotland
Founded in 1966, Simon Community Scotland is a charity that works to combat the causes and effects of homelessness. Its vision is that everyone should have a safe place to live and access to the support they need.

It operates a ‘street team’ from premises near Glasgow’s High Street. It also provides accommodation, including emergency accommodation in 12 locations across Glasgow, in North Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire.

Its ‘street team’ sees around 150 people on the streets of Glasgow every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

It is estimated that people who are long-term rough sleeping have a life expectancy of 47 (age 43 specifically for women). Rough sleepers are 13 times more likely than the general public to experience violence, 47 times more likely to be the victim of theft and three times more likely to have been a victim of a road traffic accident. One in ten rough sleepers are estimated to have been a victim of sexual violence within the previous 12 months.

Simon Community Scotland has entered a team in the Pedal for Scotland event. Anyone can join “Team Simon Community” when booking their place to enter this event.

Visit www.simonscotland.org @SimonCommScot

Telephone: 0141 418 6980. Its street team can be contacted on freephone: 0800 027 7466.

STV Children’s Appeal

STV Children’s Appeal is the official charity partner of Pedal for Scotland. The STV Children’s Appeal is committed to helping children and young people affected by poverty in Scotland. The money raised by the STV Children’s Appeal helps make a real difference in the lives of Scotland’s children and young people by providing practical help like food and warm clothes; creating opportunities for training and employability; and enabling social and emotional support for those who need it most.

In its first six years the Appeal has raised over £13.7 million. This has allowed us to make 722 big and small awards to projects across all 32 local authority areas in Scotland, providing much needed support to over 62,000 children.

The charity was launched in 2011 by The Hunter Foundation and STV.  In 2013, The Wood Foundation pledged its support to the Appeal for projects in the North East.

Every single penny raised by the STV Children’s Appeal stays in Scotland and 100% of donations are spent on the children who need it most, as all overheads are met by STV and The Hunter Foundation. In 2015, the Scottish Government once again committed to match fund the first £1m raised.

www.stv.tv/appeal/

STV Appeal SCIO SC042429

Funding boost helps secure successful approach towards eradicating homelessness in Glasgow

AN already successful approach towards eradicating rough sleeping on the streets of Glasgow has been awarded a grant of over £400,000 to help maintain its work.

The City Ambition Network (CAN) – a partnership involving key, city centre homelessness charities and statutory services – has received £430,000 to expand an existing project with its next target being to reach 70 of Glasgow’s most vulnerable people.

The initiative recognises that many rough sleepers will often remain on the streets even when shelter is available.

Therefore, it provides not just access to immediate accommodation, but also support, care and health responses with the aim of putting the homelessness person more in control of their future.

The funding has come from the USA-based philanthropy organisation, Oak Foundation.

CAN was set up two years ago, to work with people who were entrenched in a cycle of homelessness, substance use and mental health problems.

It operates as collaboration between Simon Community Scotland, Glasgow City Mission, The Marie Trust and the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership.

Says Lorraine McGrath, chief executive at Simon Community Scotland: “By working together across the city, staff from our different agencies are able to support people into safe and secure accommodation.

“Service users being supported by CAN tell us they have a really strong sense of being cared for in ways they have not experienced for a long time for many this has helped them break their in and out of rough sleeping.”

It is estimated that, each year, over 1,000 people sleep rough, for varying periods of time, on the streets of Glasgow.

Added Grant Campbell, chief executive, Glasgow City Mission: “The complexities behind the phenomenon that is rough sleeping are often overlooked. If it was an easy fix it would have happened by now.

“What the City Ambition Network has been able to achieve might appear small to the casual observer, but to those in the homelessness sector, the joined-up ‘never let go’ approach to individuals dealing with chaotic lifestyles has been powerful.”

Says Simon Community Scotland, the grant will provide much-needed new staff and a research team to help connect with Glasgow’s most vulnerable homeless who need a consistent and intensive approach.

One of the people CAN is currently working with is Karen. Her needs extend beyond simply a roof over her head.

Begins McGrath: “Karen had a traumatic upbringing which followed her into adulthood. Her life was chaotic and she often slept rough in Glasgow and placed herself in very dangerous situations.

“Key workers in the CAN worked closely with Karen, over six months, helping her into a home that she felt safe in.

“A home was just the start for Karen, getting treatment for her mental health, support with her alcohol use and maintaining her belief in herself took a lot of time and expertise.

“Karen has been in her home for five months, the longest period off the streets in ten years.

“Karen’s story is not unique. Many of the people we support have very real trauma in their lives. A roof over Karen’s head will help towards her find safety, but she also requires compassion, understanding and other forms of support.”

Adds McGrath: “Over the next three years, the grant from the Oak Foundation will be invested in helping people like Karen find peace of mind, safety, a secure place to live.

“We’re obviously delighted with the support from the Oak Foundation and excited about supporting our most vulnerable in society, to find a safe place to stay and the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

In Glasgow, the Simon Community Scotland ‘Street Team’ works with around 150 rough sleepers every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

Eric Steel, head of Homelessness at Glasgow City Council, said: “The CAN initiative is an innovative and inspiring approach to tackling the very real challenges people face and Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership is pleased to be working in partnership with the voluntary sector in improving outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens.”

McGrath continued: “Rough sleeping is bad for your physical and mental health, it’s unsafe, it’s risky and it’s scary. The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 47, almost half that of the rest of the population.”

For more information on the City Ambition Network, visit www.simonscotland.org.

Doing More Together: Bringing Real Change for Folk Across the City

The City Ambition Network or CAN was formed two years ago by the Marie Trust, Glasgow City Mission and ourselves. We had a simple belief that by working together we could work better and service users would be the beneficiaries of that.

Helping the most vulnerable

We share a common vision, that no one in Glasgow should ever need to sleep rough and behind that is a desire to put people at the heart of our services. That means constantly finding new ways of working with people who really struggle to accept the help that is on offer and  just can’t meet the expectations of services in Glasgow. Once we came together it wasn’t long before the Health and Social Care Partnership – Glasgow City Council, and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde – jumped on board opening  new doors to resources, systems and networks that were critical to offer the right kind of help for these extremely vulnerable people.

Getting Practical

With some seed funding from the Robertson Trust we were able to employ a Coordinator to translate our lofty visions into something infinitely more realistic and practical. From there we began a process of identifying those people who were known to services, where we were most often simply reacting to their chaos and crisis, not resolving it.

Real solutions, not just responding to crisis

Many of the people we were talking about circulated between prison, hospital, rough sleeping and emergency accommodation, and had been doing so for years. Staff and services were spending huge amounts of time and resources reacting to this chaos but it inevitably would be back. This was not a solutions focussed approach; this was crisis management.

Working as a team to stick by people

From a cohort of 70 , 12 people were prioritised. The approach was simple: we’d stick with people no matter what, we’d work as a team – from different organisations – to support each other and find solutions, we’d build and use networks to connect people with the resources they needed and we’d provide enough staff to have the right intensity of response that each individual person needed. The interagency operational team are given support and authority from our organisations to find solutions, push the boundaries and do things that work for people.

Good things

It has been fantastic to see the compassion, determination and resolve of the CAN Key Workers. Importantly, service users have a really strong sense of being cared about in ways they haven’t experienced for a long time. No service, professional or resource boundaries get in the way of making things happen for someone.

The impact has been stunning, both for service users and staff involved in the team. Some of the people supported have tested the resolve of staff and true to their ambition they have stuck with them, pretty much no matter what. There remains a level of chaos but on engagement, health status, accommodation, incidents and risks the measures for the people themselves have significantly improved. Critically a drastic reduction in the nights they slept rough!

The future

For us this is still early days. The people supported by CAN have many many years of homelessness, substance misuse and trauma. For some it may take as many years again to enable them to find real hope and to see and experience a safe, secure and happy life.

CAN continues to evolve. Its shape and function is driven by the wide, diverse and complex needs of the people with whom we’re engaging.

More funding: Helping more folk

In 2017 we’re taking the CAN up a gear with more staff being dedicated to the approach.   A three year grant from Oak Foundation means we can expand and evidence the work of the team. By the end of 2017 we’re hoping to be supporting 50 service users and applying a Housing First approach to the team.

The vision and ambition remain the same but our journey is unpredictable, eventful and exciting.

For more information on the organisations delivering the CAN visit:

www.simonscotland.org

www.glasgowcitymission.com

www.themarietrust.org

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=17283

http://www.nhsggc.org.uk/services/homeless-services/

Simon Community Says Thanks to Rangers After £17,000 Donation to Help Glasgow’s Homeless

THE Rangers Charity Foundation have handed over more than £17,000 to the Simon Community to help Glasgow’s homeless.

 

Light Blues fans took part in ‘Big Sleep Out’ events at Ibrox in November to raise cash that was split between the Foundation, the Simon Community and the Glasgow City Mission.

The funds will be put towards the ‘Nightstop’ project, which targets 16 to 25-year-olds who are in danger of sleeping rough and offers the support this vulnerable group needs to move forward in a positive direction.

Glasgow has the highest concentration of young people who are homeless in Scotland and Simon Community Chief Executive Lorraine McGrath is delighted to be in partnership with the Gers.

She said: “It means a huge amount to us to have the backing of the Rangers Charity Foundation and it gives us an opportunity we ordinarily wouldn’t have to reach out to people.

“It is a 365 day of the year challenge. January can be a tough month because people will be coming out of the Christmas period and the goodwill can run out in January. Quite often it is this month that we see a spike in numbers.

“Extra funding is always great but awareness is even better and we want people to understand what homelessness is and how it affects people.

“It is not just rough sleeping. It is people in temporary accommodation, people in unsafe and insecure situations and there are tens of thousands of them across Scotland.

“The reasons that people fall into homelessness are very complex and varied and it is about getting people to understand that and to know how and when to seek help.

“The biggest reason is relationship breakdown and then come all the complexities with that, including addiction issues and the challenges that they face.

“It is very traumatic and it really harms your health. The average age of someone who is homeless is 44 and we need to do all we can to help people.”

Striker Kenny Miller joined volunteers on Monday to meet a handful of the 2000 people that the charity supports each year.

The 37-year-old spent time posing for photographs and answering questions and was happy to help raise awareness.

He said: “The Rangers Charity Foundation do some great work with a number of worthy causes and have a number of partnerships.

“The ‘Big Sleep Outs’ are a big earner in terms of the fundraising. I have been at one and it was a cold night so all credit to the fans that braved the conditions.

“It is always nice to come along and help the Charity Foundation when I can, particularly for a really good cause like this.

“It is great to come along and help, meet people and recognise the work that the charity and the Foundation are doing.

“There are some great people doing some really important work and I am always happy to do my bit.”

Begging in Glasgow

To give or not to give? That is the question.

Over the last two years many Cities in Scotland have experienced an increase in begging with a number of Councils wishing to make begging illegal in their city. Aberdeen, Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow have all raised concerns. Begging is not illegal unless it is aggressive and then the Police can act upon those behaviours.

On an average day in Glasgow there are between 60 and 80 people begging on the streets. Our Street Team connect with people who are begging on  daily basis with about 15 to 25 known to be rough sleeping (numbers frequently vary). The majority of the people begging in the city have accommodation and of the many people we support across our services very few people ever resort to begging.

The question about whether or not to give money to people begging is a personal choice. Some argue that giving money can be disabling and harmful to people, even causing their death. For others it’s about recognising and responding to a desperate situation that people in our community find themselves in.

Against

Some homeless charities estimate as much as 80% of the people begging use the money to buy drugs or alcohol. The use of drugs and alcohol have a huge impact on people’s health and giving money to beggars may do more harm than good and can actually cause their death. Our experience in Glasgow suggests that three quarters of the indigenous population that are begging are funding an alcohol or drug addiction.

Some homeless charities have long experience and evidence of the harm that alcohol and drugs causes and see people giving money as a cause of this. People who sleep rough don’t live long and have an average life expectancy of 47. Drugs and alcohol plays its part in reducing people’s lives.

Not all beggars are homeless and not all homeless people beg. In Glasgow we estimate less than 30% of beggars don’t have accommodation.

People can spend a large amount of time begging on the street which may mean they spend less time engaging in support and connecting with homelessness staff. There are a number of services in Glasgow that provide shelter, food, clothing and support. None provide alcohol or drugs.

Some begging in Glasgow is organised and some of the people begging may be doing so under coercion.

In the last year our Street Team has come across people without shoes or jackets begging in some pretty awful weather. We have supplied good winter boots and warm jackets only to find the person without these items when we return. For some begging without shoes and coats may generate greater donations.

Some argue that begging and rough sleeping in the City damages tourism, trade and the reputation of the City.

For

Scotland has a huge heart and that compassion for the most disadvantaged in our community is something we’re in awe of every day. Many people want to help and often spend time chatting with people begging and giving food and drink. For some of those people on the street that acknowledgement from people who care is hugely reaffirming in a world where most of the time they are invisible.

Begging is a pretty miserable occupation and whilst there is a lot of compassion there is quite a bit of abuse too. Generally speaking not many of us would wish to spend our days sitting in the streets hoping for money so people do it because they have a need. It’s not really a lifestyle choice.

People beg to meet a need and if they can’t receive money from begging it may mean they turn to petty crime or prostitution to fund that need though there is no evidence to support this.

Income from begging can average £60 to £120 a day. Towards Christmas we heard estimates of around £200 per day. For some that is the only income they have and does provide for their basic needs. There are a few people who travel from outside the City to beg and their stories are not always what they seem however they are in our experience very few in number.

Our experience suggests that the majority of people begging are respectful, in need and grateful for assistance. We have found few examples of aggressive begging.

On a number of occasion we have encountered people who’ve effectively landed in Glasgow with nothing who are genuinely trying to raise money to get home. Our Street team has a budget funded through donations to support people to get home safely, comfortably and quickly. You can call our Street Team on the Freephone number below.

If you’re really not sure about giving then perhaps offer a coffee or a sandwich. Most people would welcome this assistance though some may say they would prefer cash.

Charities in Scotland

There are a number of charities in Glasgow and across Scotland that provide support and will provide shelter, food, warm showers, clothing and advice. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer, donate goods, help raise money and make donations.

Supporting the Glasgow Street Team

Our Street Team work on the streets 7 days a week offering help and support to people rough sleeping and begging in the city. If you want to help there are ways you can donate money, items or volunteer. In Glasgow our Street Team will pay for Hotel accommodation to get people off the street, we’ll arrange clothes, food, showers and assistance in getting accommodation.

For some people Home is a Journey and we provide a service that supports people to get home safely, comfortably and with dignity. Last year we supported people home to Dublin, Manchester, Dubrovnik, Milan and even Paisley. We’ll also work with our counterpart homeless charities to arrange support when they get home.

The Team works 7 days a week and you can contact them on our Freephone number if you have a concern about someone rough sleeping on 0800 027 7466.

Media Release: Kind-hearted Scots urged to assist appeal – today!

VOLUNTEERS AT TWO VENUES IN GLASGOW WILL TODAY RECEIVE DONATIONS TO THE CHARITY’S FIRST-EVER RUCKSACK AND HANDBAG APPEAL, WHICH IT HOPES WILL BECOME AN ANNUAL EVENT, AS IT SEEKS TO PROVIDE PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS OR AT RISK OF BECOMING HOMELESS.

 

The venues are at 24 Rosyth Road, Shawfield, and The Barn Youth Centre, 37 Abbotsford Place, Gorbals. Donations are being accepted during this afternoon.

The charity has produced a promotional video, starring the comedian, writer and actor, Moray Hunter.

Said Hunter:

“Sometimes, I can’t face taking the dog out for a walk when the weather’s a bit rough, so I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be out there all the time.

“Please help those living on the streets by supporting the Simon Community Rucksack and Handbag Appeal.”

Simon Community Scotland delivers around 170,000 hours of support every year and engages with up to 3,000 people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. It also operates eight residential facilities, including in North Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire.

In Glasgow alone, its ‘Street Team’ works with around 150 rough sleepers every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

Added Hugh Hill, director of Services at Simon Community Scotland:

“Rough sleeping is bad for your physical and mental health; it’s unsafe, it’s risky and it’s scary.

“With winter beginning to bite, it just gets worse. We need donations and support.”

On The Streets of Our City

Homelessness can happen to anyone, and I mean anyone, and at this time of year, when the temperatures fall below freezing it’s really heart rending to think that so many people are sleeping out on our streets.  I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Simon Community’s Street Outreach service on Wednesday to see at first hand some of the issues homeless people are facing and also the range of support and real compassion shown by the Simon Community’s staff.

I meet up with Donna Finlayson and Brian Roberts at the Simon Community Hub on London Road to get a quick briefing about the Street Outreach RSVP (Rough Sleepers and Vulnerable Person’s) Service they provide before heading out to join them on their route around the city centre.  Brian is one of the key workers providing the RSVP service and quickly showed how knowledgeable he is about homelessness and the issues people are facing.  Brian makes a point of doing his best to get to know people and make sure that they know what services are available – whether that’s in a hour’s time when they can call someone to bring them a warm sleeping bag to an agreed place, to tomorrow, when support can be giving to make an application for accommodation, provide advice or arrange to see a Dr.

The first person we met had just been told that no accommodation was available for him in the city that night.  That means that he would have to be out on the streets.  A recent relationship breakdown and longer term issues from the past have made this young man isolated and homeless and Brian did his best to offer support to someone who was very clearly despondent and frustrated at his situation.  Brian gave him the number to call for the sleeping bag service later that night and said that he would aim to follow up and support him with his attempt to gain some at least temporary accommodation via the local authority.

After crossing the river and in an area a stone’s through from bustling Argyle Street, Brian took me to see a place where quite a number of rough sleepers will seek shelter for the night.  Through a dark car park and behind the cladding of a large building was a narrow open space with a small concrete platform area stretching back into the pitch black.  The whole place was filled by litter and filth but it is sheltered from the worst that Glasgow weather can bring and offer relative safety from the open street.  It’s pretty desperate to be calling such a place “shelter” and “safety” but that’s the shocking reality.

Before continuing on the street patrol with Brian and Donna we made a flying visit to our friends at Glasgow City Mission whose staff and volunteers were getting things ready for the evening drop in service which provides a hot evening meal five nights a week to people affected by homelessness.  In fact this service will be benefitting from the funds raised by the Rangers Charity Foundation’s recent Big Ibrox Sleep Out event.  At least 80 people were expected to turn up that night for some hot food and a safe environment for a couple of hours where friendly volunteers can ensure that everyone is made to feel welcome and has the opportunity to speak to someone.

We set out on a criss cross route from Argyle Street to Sauchiehall Street via Buchanan Street and parts of the Merchant City and met around 15 people either begging or trying to keep warm in their sleeping bags in unused shop doorways.  There was a real range of people and the issues they are facing.  Brian said that many had severe mental health issues, including one who had tried to jump off a bridge over the Clyde just two weeks ago.  Another had been released from a secure mental health ward and then found themselves immediately homeless and on the streets again.  A number of the young people we met were also using heroin and begging to help feed this habit.  I asked Brian if it was good to give money to people begging in the city centre and he said he tried to keep an open mind and that it was up to the individual what they decided to do.  Clearly some people are begging to maintain their drug addiction and giving money can only help sustain this.  It’s not only money you can give though, a few minutes friendly conversation may be the only time that day that someone has taken the time to speak to someone who is homeless, an offer to buy some food might be very welcome or a warm hat or pair of gloves to someone who clearly has none.  It’s a personal choice whether to stop and engage with someone who asks for money or even when they don’t.  Tonight’s experience has certainly made me feel that I will stop and chat with someone more often and see if there is something I can buy to brighten their day in some way.

Not everyone wants help.  We met two men who had been sleeping rough for months.  They had their spot outside a disused shop and they showed no inclination to actively seek the support that might lead to a longer term accommodation solution.  No one could describe their situation as comfortable but in Brian’s line of work, everyone has to be respected, everyone has different issues that lead them to being homeless and the main thing is to keep gently offering support and services, and respecting people as individuals.

After two hours we started heading back to the Simon Community’s Hub.  On the way, Brian stopped to chat to a young man and provide some clean needles to him to help keep him safe, at least in the short term, from the transfer of disease from shared/dirty needle use.  We also met a woman who had previously been homeless and now had some secure accommodation and who was out on a freezing night like this in an area known for prostitution.  Brian explained to me that there are a number of support services available for this woman and that he hoped that sometime in the future this may be a positive option and choice to help her.

Safely back at the Hub I thanked Brian for allowing me to join him on his normal Street Outreach patrol of the city centre.  I was really impressed by the Simon Community’s work and the by the compassion and professionalism shown by their staff.  My insight to homelessness on a freezing cold November night in Glasgow was just a few hours long, but long enough to make me consider homelessness in a fresh light, to hopefully encourage me to stop to chat to someone much more often and to definitely feel confident that the Rangers Charity Foundation is doing something profoundly worthwhile in supporting the Simon Community.

Media Release: Sunday Herald Christmas Appeal for Simon Community Scotland

Media Release 27th November 16

LIFE on the street it brutal. And short. The average life expectancy of someone living there is just 44. Rough sleeping kills people. Seeing people sleeping in a doorway or down a lane is the most common image of homelessness – but it takes many forms. It might be rough sleeping, but it might, equally, be sleeping on a friend’s sofa, with nothing immediately on the horizon, when it comes to a place to call home. The issues are headline-grabbing and the statistics horrifying. A homeless person is 13 times more likely to experience violence, 47 times more likely to be the victim of theft and three times more likely to have been a victim of a road traffic accident. For the full article please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2gfo0A9

Media Release: Not one but two reasons for Simon Community Scotland to celebrate

IT was a party with not just one reason to celebrate but two.

Homelessness charity, Simon Community Scotland, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.

So, obviously, staff, service users and former service users in North Lanarkshire wanted to mark the occasion, everyone lending a hand to make sure a good time would be had by all.

But there was a second reason for people to raise a glass in honour of the charity, as Simon Community Scotland has only recently taken over the running of emergency and more permanent accommodation – at four locations throughout North Lanarkshire. And it has certainly been a case of it being a smooth, successful transition.

Until April, Simon Community Scotland operated only an outreach team in North Lanarkshire, with ten members of staff supporting people at risk of homelessness or just beginning to put homelessness behind them.

Homelessness is mostly about people living in uncertain accommodation, such as with a friend or in a short-term tenancy.

But in April, it won a tender – from the local authority – to manage the accommodation also.

With winning the tender came a new group of staff, who had worked for the previous accommodation operators.

The accommodation comprises: an eight-bed men’s unit, Black Street, Airdrie; four-bed men’s unit, Bridgeworks, Motherwell; four-bed women’s unit, Houldsworth Court, Wishaw; and eight-bed men’s unit, Mason Street, Motherwell.

Says Simon Community Scotland’s operations manager, Margaret Graham: “It’s been great seeing our new colleagues embrace, so enthusiastically, our ethos at Simon Community Scotland. We’re about providing practical solutions for people and our North Lanarkshire services are of a very high standard.”

Says staff member, Donna Rankin, who is a support worker at Black Street: “Simon Community Scotland really do have people at their heart, which is exactly what I believe in. This party is also the first time, ever, we’ve all come together, here in North Lanarkshire. It’s been a great few months, so what more reason do you need to have a party?”

The party was compered by Scots stand-up comedian, Pat Rolink.

Adds Simon Community Scotland chief executive, Lorraine McGrath: “Homelessness could happen to anyone and is as much hidden from view – such as sofa-hopping and short-term, uncertain lets – as it is visible, on our streets.

“It’s with mixed feelings that we mark our 50th birthday; but so long as there is homelessness we will be there, our ethos being about coming alongside people and finding practical solutions.”

The charity – which is hoping its 50th anniversary will result in a surge of volunteers – delivers, nationwide, around 170,000 hours of support every year and engages with up to 3,000 people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.

Continues McGrath: “We are certainly using this 50th birthday to recruit more volunteers and we are fortunate to have secured funding to employ a dedicated volunteering manager.

“Our approach involves spending a lot of time. If you are going to be there for someone – helping carry the burden, for the journey – then you need to have not just a sympathetic ear, but the time. Volunteers can help us achieve that.

“Many of our volunteers are former service users and this 50th anniversary is also a chance to acknowledge how vital they are to us, plus our staff and other friends and supporters.”

Notes to editors:

Lorraine McGrath, chief executive of Simon Scotland, is available for interview and also to write agenda, platform, open space-type 700-word articles, to coincide with SCS’s 50th birthday.

To arrange an interview, etc, contact Lyndsey Wilson, communications assistant at Simon Community Scotland, on 0141 418 6982.

A couple of key dates during this 50th birthday month:

* September 27 – 472 Ballater Street, Glasgow – showcasing a specially-commissioned mural, by the artist, EJEK.

* September 29 – Glasgow – Shindig – celebration of staff, current and former service users, volunteers and partner organisations.

Simon Community Scotland, in figures:

* We deliver around 170,000 hours of support every year and engage with up to 3,000 people at risk of or experiencing homelessness;

* 70 per cent of whom are male, aged mainly between 35 and 50 years-old;

* Around 50 per cent of the people we support are able to move on ‘positively’ over the course of any three-month period;

* We operate eight residential facilities; and

We actively engage to reach rough sleepers in Glasgow and our ‘street team’ see around 150 people on the streets every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

Rough sleeping, in figures**:

* Over half of all rough sleepers first slept on the streets before they were 21 and homeless people are nine times more likely to commit suicide;

* People who are long-term rough sleeping have a life expectancy of 47. The average life expectancy of a women rough sleeping is 43;

* Rough sleepers are 13 times more likely than the general public to experience violence, 47 times more likely to be the victim of theft and three times more likely to have been a victim of a road traffic accident;

* One in ten rough sleepers are estimated to have been a victim of sexual violence within the previous 12 months; and

* Many LGBT youth feel scared of accessing homelessness accommodation for fear of sexual attack and/or bullying.

** Sources: Homelessness: A silent killer (December 2011, Crisis), The unhealthy state of homelessness – health audit results 2014 (Homeless Link) and LGBT Youth 2016.

Visit www.simonscotland.org, www.twitter.com/simoncommscot and www.facebook.com/simoncommscot

ENDS