Category Archives: News

News from Simon Community Scotland

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*

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 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 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:

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:


Press Release – Period Friendly Points

WOMEN in Glasgow are to be offered free sanitary products, which are being added to the kit used by the ‘street team’ of a city-based charity which provides practical support for people who are homeless.

Simon Community Scotland’s street team already provides First Aid and other ‘basics’, such as food, needle exchange and sleeping bags.

The addition of sanitary products is a recognition of ‘period poverty’, the growing number of women who are becoming homeless – including rough sleeping in the city – and new, external funding to help pay for the service.

Women will be provided bags containing sanitary products, underwear, wipes and disposable bags, plus credit card-sized information booklets to help women access wider services in the city such as healthcare and housing.

The bags are being labelled, ‘Period Friendly Pax’, and they will be available – and regularly replenished – at various points throughout the city, including day centres and homelessness services.

These ‘Period Friendly Points’ will also offer the chance for women to speak to trained staff, on issues such as personal health and hygiene.

Simon Community Scotland recently surveyed women who use its supported accommodation services, to find 70 per cent of women saying they had never been told what a period is, nor spoken to anyone about it, and 61 per cent also saying they used toilet paper or newspaper to manage their monthly period because they couldn’t afford sanitary products.

The aim, for Simon Community Scotland, is to extend its ‘Points’ and ‘Pax’ services from its imminent launch in Glasgow to other Scots towns and cities – starting in Edinburgh, via site organisation, Streetwork.

The funding has been provided by Simon Community Scotland, with additional funding – £7,500 – from the Big Lottery Fund.

Last week, MSP, Monica Lennon, introduced a consultation process at Holyrood with the aim of introducing a legal right to access sanitary products, including a duty on schools, colleges and universities to provide them for free in female toilets.

Begins Lorraine McGrath, chief executive at Simon Community Scotland: “Homeless women often didn’t have the opportunity to discuss their periods with their mother, at school or with peers as a consequence of traumatic childhood and institutional care.

“The women are often embarrassed to talk about their periods or ask for sanitary products when they need them and have no means to purchase them.

“For women on the street, and even in supported services, they will often choose to buy food, alcohol, drugs or a bed for the night rather than sanitary products.

“And even for those women who use proper sanitary products, they will often use them for longer than they should; therefore risking infection and toxic shock.”

Adds Lennon: “This is an inspiring initiative from Simon Community Scotland.

“We know that homelessness makes managing periods very challenging and not having access to sanitary products is compounded by the fact that is isn’t easy to access warm water and the privacy of a safe place to look after yourself.

“The added stress of living on the streets during your period and having menstrual blood staining your clothes is an experience that no-one should have to face and I applaud Simon Community Scotland for addressing the unmet needs of vulnerable homeless people.

“Access to sanitary products is about maintaining basic human rights and dignity.

“I’m glad that the Simon Community are taking this initiative forward. It’s also why I’ve launched a consultation on a members’ bill proposal in the Scottish Parliament to ensure that there is free access to sanitary products for anyone who needs them – you can find out more and give your responses on the consultation by visiting”

Continues McGrath: “Being homeless is bad enough – poor accommodation, lack of sleep and poor nutrition, with only the clothes you stand in.

“Then you get your period. We will provide free, accessible and dignified access to sanitary products, essentials such as underwear and advice for homeless women.

“This project is about providing equality, health, support, opportunity and most importantly – dignity.

“Period Friendly Points will ensure women on the streets do not go without sanitary products and have access to the support they need.”


Notes for editors:

Lorraine McGrath and Monica Lennon MSP are both available for interview on Wednesday, August 23 from 1300 hours.

They will be both available, in Glasgow, at 472 Ballater Street.

Members of the media are invited to send a representative; and are asked to alert Simon Community Scotland of their intention to attend – in advance, by contacting Linda Clark on 0141 418 6980.

Lorraine McGrath, chief executive, Simon Community Scotland, can be contacted on 0141 418 6980 or

Monica Lennon MSP can be contacted via or 07775 862476

Photographs of Period Friendly Points and Period Friendly Pax will be available, from today, August 22. Please credit: Euan Robertson.

Pics can be sourced here:

Or via Linda Clark, at Simon Community Scotland, on 0141 418 6980.

About Simon Community Scotland

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

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

For more information on Simon Community Scotland please visit:

ENDS again

Period Friendly Points – Dignity as standard

On the 23rd of August Simon Community Scotland launched a new program designed to make sanitary products freely available, easily accessible and support to homeless women having their period; Period Friendly Points. The program supported by the Big Lottery is designed to address the very real challenges homeless women experience in managing their periods.
The initiative starts with Period Friendly Points in Glasgow and Edinburgh and an expectation that by Christmas 2017 there will be over 20 Period Friendly Points across the country.
In addition to identified places for women to access support Street Teams in Edinburgh and Glasgow will be carrying a 72 hour period pack for women on the street including sanitary products, pants, wipes and disposal bags.
Our ambition is to make this aspect of life a little easier and support homeless women to have a period of dignity.  Read more…


Volunteer With Us

Our volunteer team welcomes people with a wide range of skills and experiences – including those who have lived through homelessness. If you like what we do, we’d love you to join us!

How people end up homeless is many and various. And just as the story of each and every homeless person in Scotland will be different, so everyone in Scotland can be part of the solution.

Our roots are in volunteering. Combatting homelessness involves all of us – as a community.

There are a number of different range of ways people can volunteer with us. We are currently looking to fill these roles

  • Warehouse Volunteer  (Glasgow)
  • Simon Store Volunteer (Glasgow)
  • Street Cycles Volunteer (Glasgow)
  • Period Friendly Pals (Glasgow and Edinburgh)
  • Nightstop Volunteer Host (Glasgow)

Click here for more information.


Nightstop in Glasgow


We’re  delighted to be working in partnership with Depaul UK to launch Nightstop in Glasgow – a really important service for young people in distress who are at risk of homelessness. We’re putting a call out for volunteer hosts.

The reasons why young people end up homeless are varied. Most commonly, it’s a breakdown in the relationship at home and sometimes a cooling-off period allows staff to support the family to reconnect and talk through their issues. Sometimes, the young person is escaping violence or abuse, or is facing issues concerning their sexuality.

Through Nightstop, young people facing the prospect of sleeping rough on the streets can be provided an emergency bed for the night – in a volunteer’s home rather than in a homelessness hostel. The Nightstop concept has been hugely successful in other parts of the country and we’re excited about the opportunity to deliver a safe, compassionate and homely alternative to potentially risky options elsewhere.

We are putting out a call for the people of Glasgow to join the Nightstop network, by offering up any spare rooms they have in their homes and becoming a Nightstop host.Potential hosts undertake an application process as well as training and a vetting exercise; and will receive ongoing support from Simon Community staff.

There’s more information about Nightstop in our news release.

You can help by applying to become a host as well as by promoting this programme in your networks.

To register your interest or learn more about this initiative, please contact Pauline Hannigan at

This will allow us to invite you to an information evening to meet us, hear about Nightstop and ask questions. We look forward to hearing from you.