Tag Archives: Celebrating

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.

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



 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.


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.


  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.
  2. 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.


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.


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.

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



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.”

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


Glasgow Bike Station becomes a Friend of the Street Team

Greg Chauvet Managing Director of the Glasgow Bike Station met with our CEO today to register their commitment to helping vulnerable people in the city by becoming a Friend of the Street Team.

The scheme asks businesses, shops and organisations to support the efforts of our Street Team by sharing information on the work of the Simon Community, raising awareness of the help that’s available and having contact cards and details onsite for customers who may be concerned about someone but not sure how to help.

Our Street Team work 24/7 supporting rough sleeper and people who are homeless to find somewhere safe off the Street and can be contacted on 0800 027 7466.

The Glasgow Bike Station first came in to being in 2010 at the Barras in Glasgow. Founder and Social Entrepreneur of the year 2105, Greg Chauvet, left a corporate business world (and the French Rivera), disillusioned by the greed and poor treatment of employees to set up a social enterprise that was connected, was fair and looked after people – not only staff and volunteers, but the health and wellbeing of everyone who takes to cycling.

It was his own experience of learning to cycle as an adult and the negative reactions he encountered in Glasgow that prompted him to do something about supporting cycling.

Today the Bike Station goes from strength to strength and as well as selling and refurbishing second hand bikes the Bike Station also delivers multiple socially inspired programmes to teach, train, promote and introduce cycling to Glaswegians.

Media Release Launching Nightstop in Glasgow

Call issued for spare rooms to provide sanctuary for young people

Media Release 11 September 2016

YOUNG people in Glasgow facing the prospect of sleeping rough on the streets are to be provided an emergency bed for the night – in a volunteer’s home rather than in a homelessness hostel.

The homeless charity, Simon Community Scotland – which is, this month, marking its 50th anniversary – has received funding from the Big Lottery Fund to set up a network of beds in people’s spare rooms, throughout Glasgow.

Says the homelessness charity, a young person will be able to stay in their own private room, with a welcoming volunteer host – for up to three nights.

The hope is that, during that time, Simon Community Scotland staff can then assist the young person to find a more long-term solution to what has taken them to the brink of homelessness.

Funding for the ‘nightstop’ service is also being provided by the Rangers Charity Foundation.

Last year, it was announced that Simon Community Scotland would be one of seven charities to be supported by the Rangers Charity Foundation.

In November, the foundation is staging a series of ‘sleep outs’ at Rangers’ football ground, Ibrox, to raise funds, while the Big Lottery Fund is providing £150,000 towards making the nightstop service a reality.

We are looking for Nightstop hosts in Glasgow. For more information visit: http://www.simonscotland.org/support-us/volunteer-with-us/

For more about Nightstop across the UK go to: https://www.nightstop.org.uk

Cycle for Simon

Simon Community go green with the arrival of 26 brand new bikes. Every location across our organisation will have two bikes for staff and service users to use for leisure and for business.

Lorraine McGrath CEO said

“We’ve long been committed to reducing our carbon footprint and supporting a healthy workforce. These new additions will help us cut our car journeys get around Glasgow faster and have some fun at the same time.”

All the bikes will be delivered by the end of the month and come just as we received Scotland’s Cycle Friendly Award.