Streetwork Gets a Makeover! Find Out the Story Behind the New Look

How It Started…

Streetwork joined our Simon Community family earlier this year. We’ve been so proud to welcome this incredible service in Edinburgh. Every day, across all our services, we offer compassionate, flexible and skilled support to people facing extremely difficult situations. At Simon Community Scotland, we work hard to demonstrate our values in everything we do – including how we look and feel.

As a team, we looked at the Streetwork logo and knew it was time for something different. For many people, the old logo, with the yellow and black colour scheme, felt too harsh. We wanted to develop something that better captured our energy and spirit, and also showed Streetwork as part of the Simon Community family. 

We wanted our new look in Edinburgh to capture the things people felt were really important in our work. We wanted our look to resonate feelings of care, compassion, ambition, leadership, development, creativity, vibrancy, passion, inspiration, energy and enthusiasm.

To get the ball rolling, we asked all of our staff in Edinburgh to join discussions on the new look. We reviewed their existing logos (and those throughout the sector) and considered how it made us feel. We also looked at our values and the existing Simon Community Scotland look to shape and inform our decisions and inspire our overall design.

In the end, we decided that we wanted the phrases below to guide the design process. For us they represent the first emotional impression we want people to have when they see our new logo or engage with someone in our team:

  • hope, positive change
  • welcome, warm, positive
  • compassionate, caring, helpful
  • relationships, connection, diversity
  • trustworthy, safety, professional, credible
  • energy, action, dynamic

It’s about people first and foremost…

These qualities really matter because we are here to offer support to people who are experiencing really tough situations – and who often don’t receive consistent warmth and kindness. We want to be a place and a community who demonstrate welcome, offering practical and emotional support that feels positive and can bring hope. For someone visiting us, we know this positive welcome starts before someone even enters the building! We feel really proud to have a new look that reflects this sense of friendly, hopeful energy. 

Launch Day!

We launched the new Streetwork look on Friday 23rd August 2019. To celebrate, we had a staff gathering at our Southbridge building and Holyrood Hub in Edinburgh. Walking down the stairs, the atmosphere was buzzing with energy. There was bunting and balloons, teas and coffees, biscuits and banter. We also set up a display of all our new merchandise and, of course, there were delicious cupcakes… decorated with our logo! Holyrood Hub was also full of energy and more cake! It was great to hear people’s first impressions of the new look. 

Our CEO, Lorraine, and our Director of Services, Hugh, paid us a visit on the day. They arrived to an eager gathering of staff and then shared a few words alongside Jan, our Assistant Director at Streetwork. Behind them was a fantastic display of the new merchandise and clothing – all adorned with the new Streetwork logo!

After the opening words, everyone was invited to tuck into the lovely cakes and tea and many came over to Zora, our videographer (and Digital Inclusion Co-Ordinator) to share their feelings on the new look.

Big thanks to everyone in the team for their input and hard work in making this happen! We are so proud to have a look that captures the spirit and energy of our work and what we try to offer others. We want people to know and feel warmth, welcome and hope every day!

Here’s what our staff had to say about the new look for Streetwork.

Our Saltcoats Service is Closing: Here’s What You Need to Know

Here at Simon Community Scotland, we have been working with people affected by homelessness since the 1960s and always sought to broaden our horizons. We acquired the Saltcoats service on Green St in August of 2015 and it soon became our largest service. At capacity, the building accommodates 23 people experiencing homelessness between the ages of 16-70 who are in crisis and have an urgent need for accommodation.

In the Three Towns area, the service has proven to be invaluable in helping people affected by homelessness to find stability and personal development. We encourage a relationship-based approach in all of our supported accommodation and in doing so we have found great success in helping those we support. Our staff are trained to collaboratively work with the individuals they support and help them to identify the best way forward with matters ranging from addiction and abuse to job applications and family relationships.

Unfortunately, the Saltcoats service will close on Wednesday 31st July 2019 in response to a new ‘Housing First’ policy, which has resulted in significant cuts to funding within the sector.

We sat down with our CEO, Lorraine McGrath, to speak about the closure. This is what she had to say:

‘We are immensely proud of our staff and all of the people they have supported at Green Street for their commitment and perseverance during the closure process. All of us at Simon Community Scotland were very disappointed that the need for cost savings has resulted in the loss of the service in Saltcoats. I want to recognise and celebrate the success of so many people in moving away from crisis to find some stability, both during their stay at Green St and thereafter; the skill and compassion of the team in how they worked with every single person; and the many local partners who supported our work. We take inspiration from successes and learning from the challenges of delivering the service and we wish only continued great things for our staff and service users in the future as they move on from the service’.

Stewart Nixon, our Head of Services and Localities at Simon Community Scotland, and manager of the Saltcoats service said:

‘It is with a heavy heart that I have to comment on the service closing. I feel for our service users and they are our priority as we move forward. I am incredibly proud of every member of my staff group for their dedication, commitment, and compassion. The sheer amount of lives they have saved cannot go without mentioning and if it weren’t for their intervention, drug deaths in the area would have undoubtedly been 20-30 people higher every year. I cannot commend the staff or the service users enough’.

In the last four years, since the service began, we have helped over 1000 people experiencing homelessness in the Saltcoats area. Those who have stayed within our service have progressed onto temporary accommodation, back to their families, or even into a house of their own. Some people find their way back into the service after experiencing further difficulties.

The staff at the Saltcoats service shared a few words on the closure. One staff member said:

‘I have always found the Saltcoats service a great place to work. Every day we are faced with different challenges and as a team we always worked through these. Personally, I feel Saltcoats is a much-needed service in North Ayrshire due to the support we offer to the most vulnerable of clients who pass through our doors. I have loved every minute of my time working here and feel very sad at the need to close.

SNP Councillor Jean McClung, in whose ward the service is located, had the following to say:

‘I was pleased to be invited to the recent Open Day held at the Simon Community service in Green Street, the event being a celebration of the sterling work done over the years by the committed staff at the service. Since the first time I visited the service and met Head of Service, Stewart Nixon, I have been greatly impressed by his, and his staff’s empathy towards, and commitment to improving the lives of, the service users there.

I was quite distressed to discover at the Open Day that only a handful of residents knew where they would be living in three weeks time. My sincere hope is that, with the support of North Ayrshire Council, all the present residents of Green Street will find suitable accommodation, and will continue to receive the professional support they may require in order to move on with their lives’.

SNP Councillor Davina McTiernan, representative of the Stevenson Ward, said:

‘I support the Scottish Government’s ‘Housing First’ initiative that works towards housing those affected by homelessness in their own home, however, I commend the work done at the Simon Community service and acknowledge the importance of having such places available to those in need.

With support from North Ayrshire, I will do my utmost to ensure all residents of the Simon Community service will be offered accommodation and have support offered to them so they can continue to rebuild their lives’.

As of Tuesday 30th July, every service user within the Green Street service was successfully allocated accommodation. They are working with the Simon Community staff to transition effectively into their new living environments.

1,187 Lives Lost: How Do We Create Change?

Our communities reel at the latest drug-related death figures: 1,187 lives lost! This number is already 6 months out of date and doesn’t represent the further massive increase in deaths that we have all seen so far this year.

What Do We Know?

Last year we lost 11 of the people we support and our staff have had to endure another 10 losses in 2019, a trend that suggests we will be looking at an increase of 100% over the course of this year. This is a new tragedy within homelessness. We need to add together the previous three/four years of stats to get anything close to that level of lives lost. Alongside this, the rate of overdose intervention, which has also increased over 100%, is increasing parallel to the stats on deaths. This 100% represents a further 77 lives potentially saved (as of today) by staff who are there to intervene with Naloxone (where they believe that opioids are involved). Sadly we already know that in too many cases the greatest risk comes from combining drugs and so called “street valium”, that is dirt-cheap and highly risky as it continually changes in terms of content and potency.

Why We Need to Act NOW

It has sadly become the norm for people to experience and witness repeated overdose and death. Collectively, we no longer react in any way that considers these deaths preventable. We too often forget that those around each loss of life needs support and intervention. We need to recognise the absolute devastation these deaths cause to families, friends and staff. We need to not accept the normalisation of a preventable loss of any life and we need to not accept that our systems and policies make it increasingly difficult for people to access treatment and recovery options. 

Seeing loved ones, fellow service users and friends die, along with encountering only barriers and exclusion in trying to access support and care, only serves to deepen the pervading hopelessness and worthlessness that will have initially led them to addiction.

What Role Does Poverty and Trauma Play?

Unfortunately, the individuals we all support will have experienced poverty and/or trauma in early life. Our ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) aware nation may well prevent the tragedies of the future but we need much more understanding for those whose childhoods are already lost to trauma. To those who find themselves coping with their trauma through addiction and risk. To those who see no hope for a different future.

What Do We Need?

Safe Places

We need more safe places for people to go to. They need to safely access the drugs that have a stranglehold on them and their lives. They need to feel some care, compassion and ultimately something to drive a change inside of them that will tackle the pervading hopelessness that keeps them asking themselves ‘will today be the day I die?’.

We fully support the idea of a safer consumption room in Glasgow but people will not go there to swallow 40 street valium. We need a much broader and more meaningful response. We need big action that strengthens and grows the message that addiction is entirely a health-based concern that needs health-focused solutions but we also need to empower, enable and resource the small actions that can be the greatest catalyst for change.

Better Equipped Staff

Frontline staff need to be equipped to identify, respond and intervene at times of greatest risk, but, they also need more on the spot access to vital health and care resources at the right time and in the right way for each person they engage. We welcome the recognition that we have a public health emergency right now, right here in Scotland,  but we need the new Drug Deaths Taskforce to quickly drive change and action to try and reverse the terrifying increases we alone at Simon Community Scotland have seen this year.

What Now…?

Although we’d love one, there is no silver bullet. We must go person by person, community by community to tackle the hopelessness that grips those who need our help the most. We need to help in ways that say, “your life matters and your future can be different”. 

-Lorraine McGrath, CEO of Simon Community Scotland

Streetwork Merge With Simon Community Scotland: Here’s What You Need to Know

Working and learning together

For the last 18 months, Simon Community Scotland has been sharing a CEO with Edinburgh’s Streetwork. It has been proving such a success that the suggestion of an official merger was very well received by staff last year (2018) and plans were put in place to action this. As of 1st April 2019, both charities became one.

Why Simon Community Scotland?

Streetwork had been open to partnering with another homeless charity for some time, however, an organisation that had the best fit with Streetwork and its values was needed. Linda Holden, Streetwork Chair, said the following:

‘When we started to look for a partnership we wanted to find an organisation which had shared values but was operating in a different geographical area so that we were not competing for work but actually adding value to the sector. Simon Community Scotland fit the criteria perfectly’.

Linda Holden, Chair Of Streetwork

The Future

Overall, the ambition of both organisations is to make better use of their combined resources and focus on reaching and resolving more people’s experience of homelessness and rough sleeping across Scotland’s two main cities and beyond. Both organisations will now become a stronger influence on homelessness in Scotland as no other organisation in this country reaches more people experiencing it.

Commenting on the future for both charities, Lorraine McGrath, CEO of Simon Community Scotland, said:

‘Our aim is simply to do as much good as we can, continuing to look at where the gaps are and where there are new opportunities to test out something different, with and for the people we support across all the areas we work in. Our greatest potential lies in continuing to build new and wider collaborations with organisations that reach well beyond homelessness and social care’.

Lorraine McGrath, CEO of Simon Community Scotland

FAQs

Many questions have arisen as a result of the merger so we created a list of FAQs (frequently asked questions) to answer your queries:

  • How will this affect the services you offer? In a very positive way, by bringing together over 80 years of experience, profile and expertise to fuel greater impact and new solutions for those affected by homelessness in Scotland. Both Streetwork and Simon Community Scotland combined help over 5000 people per year! The management of both charities agrees there is no room for agendas, internal politics or egos in this process. We have worked hard to find outcomes which work for the service users and allow us to become one organisation without compromising on that.
  • Have staff lost jobs? No. No staff lost their jobs in the process and we had their full support throughout. Our staff are the most important part of delivering and maintaining the excellent standards expected of both organisations.
  • Will Streetwork still be named ‘Streetwork’? Yes, Streetwork will retain its name in Edinburgh and the Lothians, however, both charities have brought their values and resources under the single Simon Community Scotland banner (SCS is the ‘parent’ company).
  • Will Simon Community Scotland still be named ‘Simon Community Scotland’? Yes, Simon Community Scotland will retain its name and identity. The merging of both companies will now allow Simon Community Scotland to extend its operations and begin combatting the causes and effects of homelessness throughout Scotland, not just Glasgow.

More About Both Organisations…

Streetwork

Founded in 1991, Streetwork is a homeless charity that enables life off the streets for people in Edinburgh.

Streetwork’s street team is regularly joined by the likes of GPs and vets, to provide practical assistance to people sleeping rough (and any pets they might have). Every day the team reach out, respond and help people resolve their homelessness so that they can recover and thrive.

Streetwork operates out of two premises in central Edinburgh: One on South Bridge and one on Holyrood Road (a support and amenities hub for people who are homeless). From the hub, the following services are provided: Individualised support, health services, digital skills training, employability services, washing facilities, telephones, internet access, correspondence address, etc.

For more information on Streetwork, please visit: http://www.streetwork.org.uk.

Simon Community Scotland

Simon Community Scotland has been working alongside people who experience homelessness in Scotland since 1966. We deliver over 250,000 hours of support every year and engage with up to 5,000 people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness. We deliver the two biggest street outreach teams in Scotland and support more people through our accommodation, including emergency accommodation, and outreach support across Glasgow, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire than any other organisation.

We were highly committed to ensuring the input of our staff and service users during this consultation and our response is centred around the views expressed by more than 60 people across our services.

Seeing opportunity not risk: Frontline workers lead the way in making amazing things happen

We are very proud to launch this independently commissioned report – ‘Views from the Frontline’– highlighting the activities, impact and key learning points of the 2017/18 Winter Initiative. It draws on the experience and insights of frontline staff working across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Power to act

The report clearly shows that when we give our frontline staff the power to act, amazing things can happen for the people we support. Multiple case studies in the report show the profound (and sustained) impacts of actions taken by staff to support people to find a life off the streets. Many of those reached, engaged and enabled off the streets during this period had long histories of experiencing rough sleeping, extremely poor health and a consistent struggle with engaging with support and treatment.

How can we reduce and end rough sleeping?

The rapid action and resource allocation commenced in December 2017 following the formation of the Scottish Government ‘Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) in November 2017. The first questions this group were tasked with, was to respond to the question: What can be done to reduce rough sleeping this winter (2017/18)?

Changing and saving lives

The positive impact over the winter – particularly with the harsh weather conditions and our ‘Beast from the East’ experience – cannot be overestimated. Literally hundreds of people did not spend the night sleeping on the streets of our three main cities. Many received much needed health inputs and found sustainable resolution as a direct result. As highlighted by our CEO, Lorraine McGrath, “Lives have been changed through their actions and, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say, lives have been saved.”

Doing more of what we already do

No wheels were reinvented. We simply amplified and extended existing effective models of practice, strengthened collaborations, focused our attentions and actions on the most vulnerable and, most vitally, gave the power to act and direct resources to those that know best and have the greatest opportunity; the staff that know, meet and work to engage people sleeping rough every day. Much of what we did over the winter was already in practice, but in much smaller ways, this initiative gave approaches greater life and formality and in some cases increased capacity to act. It also provided a way to properly evidence the value and impact of both existing and new ways of working.

Shared national commitment. Enhanced local actions

The report highlights that the momentum and national ambition to end rough sleeping is shared and owned at a local level. Actions from the Winter Initiative have directly supported frontline staff to better connect and engage with people who sleep rough – and led to more people being supported off this street this winter.

This report captures the enhanced activities of Simon Community Scotland, Streetwork and Aberdeen Cyrenians frontline services and the many partners they work with across the three cities. The enhanced activities included:

  • the introduction of ‘Personalised Budgets’ – a trailblazing innovation empowering frontline staff to make timely, on-the-spot decisions to end rough sleeping
  • stronger inter-agency working, including through Inter-Agency Street Networks
  • increased capacity and co-location of partner services within night/care shelters and outreach hubs.

Seeing opportunity not risk and barriers

We are immensely proud of everyone – especially our own Street Teams and Outreach Workers – who pushed their organisational and professional boundaries, moved beyond their comfort zone, saw more opportunity than risk and barriers, and worked tirelessly (as always) just to make things happen for those we are most concerned about. Together we have doubtless saved and changed lives through these actions.

Thanks also to Dougie Paterson, who conducted all the interviews and drew this report together.

Click the link to see the ‘Views from the Frontline: The 2017/18 Winter Initiative’ report.

Charging Rough Sleepers

We’re charging rough sleepers in Glasgow!

 

There is nothing good about living on the city streets, seeking a living from begging and relying on people’s charity and goodwill yet still in 2018 we have people living, sleeping and surviving on the streets of our major cities. In Glasgow our street team are out morning noon and night seven days a week working to get people off the street and into a safe and secure place but that’s not always possible.

We don’t want people to sleep rough, we know their life expectancy is on average 47, they’re 9 times more likely to commit suicide and your 47 times more likely to be robbed. Our focus is always about getting people off the streets but where that’s not possible we want people to be safe which is why we’re planning to issue portable phone chargers to people on the street.

This new initiative is the first of it’s kind in Scotland and can provide four full charges to a mobile phone. For most of us our phone is a crucial connection to our family, friends and the outside world. If you’re on the street it’s more important than that; your phone is a lifeline, security and in some cases it’s your only means of help.

Our dedicated street team and street cycle volunteers will be providing people on the street with free chargers that they can exchange at any time for a fully charged pack. Every pack will have the freephone number printed on the front so that if they ever need assistance from us they know who to call!

Most of the people we support struggle to find a place to charge their phone and whilst this service is available at our Hub on London Road, many of the guys feel they are getting in the way of people who are in greater need so often won’t go, or stay for their phone to charge.

We want to make it easy for people to stay connected, to have some security and to know that our street team are just a phone call away. Mobile phones are not a luxury, they are essential in connecting services to people and vice versa. Our Street Staff are often required to connect with our homeless people quickly once they have located accommodation on their behalf, if they are not able to make contact with the individual then that safe place is often lost putting the homeless person in a vulnerable position and alone out on the streets. Having a phone that works is critical in supporting someone and ensuring that they get safely off the streets.

Megan Thomson who manages the street team said ‘ This small initiative will make a huge difference to many of the people we support. It’s not going to make everything better but it’s a small bit of progress in a sometimes complicated journey.’

How can people help?
Our Street Team and Street Cycles are already out there every day and we can provide people with phones, top-ups and now chargers, but we need help in continuing to fund this initiative. £5 will enable us to make this happen for someone on the Street and you can help by txting CHRG35 to 70070

 

Still got unwanted Christmas presents?

 

  • Scotland’s largest homeless charity is urging people to re-gift items to support the homeless
  • Donations being accepted across Glasgow city branches of Sainsbury’s*
    #RegiftItToSimon

As snow and strong winds sweep across the country, Scotland’s largest homeless charity, Simon Community Scotland, is urging people to get behind their campaign to support rough sleepers this winter by re-gifting unwanted Christmas gift items – such as warm clothing, underwear and toiletries – to Scotland’s largest homeless charity.

The #RegiftItToSimon idea is part of a wider campaign to provide everyday items to help Scotland’s homeless community stay safe and warm during the harsh Scottish climate.

The charity is asking people to donate unwanted Christmas gifts such as warm clothing – particularly base layers – as well as hats, gloves and scarves. Personal care items such as toiletries and make up would also be welcome.

Lorraine McGrath, chief executive of Simon Community Scotland, said: “Being homeless is a stressful experience at any time of year, taking a significant toll on physical wellbeing and mental health, and the colder months are a particularly vulnerable period for the community.

“We’re asking the public to help give a vital post-Christmas boost to our campaign by donating any unwanted gifts that may be useful for a homeless person. Even small items like gloves, hats, socks – or even a bar of soap – can make a big difference.

“We would like to thank Sainsbury’s for making this possible.”

To further support the homeless community, Simon Community Scotland has deployed a Rough Sleepers Street Team in Glasgow this winter. Members of the public are asked to contact them on 0800 027 7466 if they see someone of concern in the city.  

Simon Community Scotland works to combat the causes and effects of homelessness. The charity’s vision is that everyone should have a safe place to live and access to the support they need.

To donate unwanted gift items, drop off donations at any one of seven Sainsbury’s stores across Glasgow city centre, including Buchanan Galleries, Queen Street, Bothwell Street and Argyle Street.

Media enquiries:

Clare Todd, Perceptive Communicators   07963 169 543

Note to Editors:  

Donations will be accepted at the following Sainsbury’s stores:

Buchanan Galleries
219 Sauchiehall Street
135 George Street
167 Argyle Street (near St Enoch SPT station)
Trongate (1-9 Argyle St)
54 Queen Street
53 Bothwell Street

Suggested items:

  • Socks / tights / briefs
  • Sanitary items
  • Gloves / scarves
  • T-shirts
  • Soap
  • Hairbrushes
  • Make up
  • Perfume
  • slippers

Christmas Wishes: The Kindness of Strangers

Brian our Simon Store volunteer found a lovely Christmas message along with a donation of clothing. It reads…

To the recipient of this bag,

I hope that the contents will be of use to you, it’s difficult to be sure but maybe it will help in some small way. I hope that you will be safe and warm this Christmas and that the new year will provide opportunities for you to be in good housing or a new job or just find contentment. The most important thing is never give up. We are none of us completely independent, we all rely on others to help us every day of our lives. If we are wise we learn to reach out for that help and grasp it with both hands. I read this last week and it has since given me pause for thought:

I am not what I ought to be
I am not what I want to be
I am not what I hope to be
but still, I am what I am.

Hoping that all your dreams come true.

Marie and Peter

A huge thank you Marie and Peter – It is so lovely to be able to pass on their thoughtful message.

Rucksack and Handbag Appeal 2017

Support our Rucksack & Handbag Appeal Day: Sunday 26th November 2017

We’re excited to be hosting our annual Rucksack & Handbag Appeal Day this November.

How it works

  • We gather a range of donations – simple things like warm clothes, toiletries and other essentials.
  • We sort and pack the goods – essentials and some treats – into rucksacks and handbags.
  • We then distribute them to people who are struggling with homelessness – they may be sleeping rough or living in temporary or emergency accommodation.

Get involved

We’ve already had a great response from people who will be volunteering with us on the day.

We’re now looking for donations. Can you help?

What we need

  • Sleeping bags
  • Handbags
  • Rucksacks
  • Toiletries
  • Clothing & toiletries for women: hat, scarf, gloves, t-shirts, tights, new underwear size 10-12 (cotton), waterproof jacket, slippers, tampons, panty liners/towels, makeup, eyeliner, lipgloss, hairbrush, scrunchie/bobbles/kirby’s/clips, emory boards, perfume.
  • Clothing for men: hat, scarf, gloves, fleece jacket or waterproof coat, new underwear (medium), t-shirts, socks, jumper
  • Food (non perishable please): cereal bars, tinned food with a pull ring, crisps & sweets, cuppa soup /pot noodles/oats/cereal pot, chocolate, sugar free gum.
  • Other useful stuff: groundnut, foil blanket (prevents hypothermia), cutlery, pencil and pad, flasks.

Dropping off your donations

You can gift your donations in a bag/rucksack, or simply use a carrier bag. Drop off your donations at the following venue:

12/14 ReidvaleStreet, Glasgow, G31 1SZ

Can you promote this event at your workplace or on social media?

Here’s a poster to download, or you can email us for a printed copy.

Rucksack & Handbag Appeal Poster

 

PRESS RELEASE: Homelessness outreach service to go the extra mile

ROUGH sleepers who have chosen to avoid Glasgow city centre are to be supported by a charity whose volunteers will be able to reach them by bicycle.

The Street Cycles team, run by Simon Community Scotland, are being kitted out with bikes to allow them to help more people, more often, and further out from the charity’s city centre base.

The innovative outreach service – part of the Simon Community’s Street Team – will be staffed exclusively by highly-trained volunteers, who will help the charity rise to the challenge of dealing with the estimated 1,000 people who sleep rough in Glasgow every year.

The project is being launched with the help of Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing at the Scottish Government.

Funded by The National Lottery, the Street Cycles project is appealing for people to get involved who want an unique and rewarding volunteering challenge.

The programme will involve extensive training, which – among other things – will involve lifesaving First Aid, including the administration of the opiate reversal drug, Naloxone.

Their specialised training will also include becoming a certified Cycling Scotland Cycle Patroller and reaching Velotech Bronze level, a cycling industry-recognised bike maintenance qualification.

It is believed that this is the UK’s first pedal-powered homeless outreach service: this development is part of Simon Community Scotland’s commitment to provide innovative solutions for the complex issues around homelessness, whilst meeting the changing demands on the street.

Hugh Hill, director of Services at Simon Community Scotland, says: “We are encountering growing numbers of homeless people in the south and west of the city, most of them women concerned about their safety in the city centre.

“Our ability to cover the more outlying parts of the city is inhibited by staff resources, as well as geography. We are bringing in volunteers to increase the scope of our cover and using bikes to reach a wider number of people, increase the visibility of the work we do, and distribute supplies.”

Street Cycles teams will use touring bikes loaded up with ‘basics’ such as food, clothing, First Aid, needle exchange kits, and sleeping bags. They will also be trained in providing psychological counselling and emotional support, plus in giving practical advice on how people might access wider services in the city.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Scotland has some of the strongest housing rights for homeless people anywhere in the world and this year we have set out a clear objective to eradicate rough sleeping, recognising that it requires more than just the provision of housing and that every individual has their own unique needs and challenges.

“We are planning to establish a homelessness and rough sleeping action group to lead change in this area and identify the actions, services and legislative changes required to end rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation.

“Tackling and preventing homelessness is a key priority for the Scottish Government and I’m delighted to launch this innovative outreach cycle scheme, that will enable Simon Community’s volunteers to help vulnerable people who are sleeping rough in areas outside the city centre.”

Continued Hill: “The training we will provide volunteers will be extensive – including from some of our staff at Simon Community Scotland, who have first-hand experience of being homeless.

“Providing a needle exchange service, for instance, is a serious undertaking, but will place our volunteers at the frontline of harm reduction in the city.”

The initial ‘Investing in Ideas’ funding of £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will support the setup of the project. In time this will mean a team of 30 volunteers, working in pairs and providing the backbone to a seven days-per-week service.

Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland chair, said: “This National Lottery funding will help Simon Community Scotland be able to reach people who are sleeping rough in areas outside the city centre more swiftly and provide them with food, clothing and any advice they need.

“This is life-changing money, making a difference where, and when, it is needed most.”

People who think they have what it takes to rise to this unique volunteering opportunity are encouraged to visit http://www.simonscotland.org/support-us/volunteer-with-us/ to register there interest.

 

Notes to editors:

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, will be meeting Lorraine McGrath, chief executive of Simon Community Scotland; Hugh Hill, director of services and development at SImon Community Scotland; and Keir McCluskey, Street Cycles project leader at Simon Community Scotland and four Street Cycles volunteers.

Launch will be taking place between 1010 and 1025 on Wednesday September 20 at The Simon Community Hub at 72 London Road, G1 5NP.

Members of the media wishing to attend are kindly asked to intimate their intention by contacting project leader, Keir McCluskey, on 0141 418 6980 or keir.mccluskey@simonscotland.org.

Keir is also available to provide additional information about the project.

Photographs of Street Cycles bikes, equipment and volunteers are also available, free-to-use. Please credit photographer, Euan Robertson. They can be sourced here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vm0cl2spjjndgrc/AAAWThpFpgM8qkM7zmegxE1oa?dl=0

About Simon Community Scotland

The Simon Community Scotland has been working alongside people who experience homelessness in Scotland since 1966.

The Simon Community Scotland delivers around 170,000 hours of support every year and engage with up to 3,000 people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness. 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.

For more information on Simon Community Scotland, please visit: http://www.simonscotland.org

ENDS