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.