Tag Archives: Finding Hope

Let’s help get rid of Hate Crime!

What is Hate Crime?

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

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

(Offences (Aggravated by Prejudice) Act 2010).

Homelessness and being a victim of crime

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

We can all help tackle Hate Crime in Scotland

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

We don’t want anyone to go through this experience

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

Getting help

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

 

There is more information available here:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Begging in Glasgow

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

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

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

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

Against

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charities in Scotland

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

Supporting the Glasgow Street Team

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

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

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

On The Streets of Our City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media Release: Sunday Herald Christmas Appeal for Simon Community Scotland

Media Release 27th November 16

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

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: Hoping 50th birthday will spark a chain reaction

Hoping 50th birthday will spark a chain reaction

MEDIA RELEASE 1 September 2016


Simon Community Scotland today launched the start of its 50th anniversary, by hosting a media event at the Glasgow outlet of a bicycle recycling workshop, which has been providing service users the opportunity to build their own bike, learn news skills and develop their self-confidence.

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

In particular, it seeks to reach rough sleepers in Glasgow, and its Street Team sees around 150 people on the streets every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

The collaboration with The Bike Station is an illustration of the charity’s ethos of finding solutions that are individually-tailored.

Says 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.

“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.

The Bike Station initiative was established by Hugh Hill, director of services and development at Simon Community Scotland, and The Bike Station project manager, Victoria Leiper. Hugh Hill said:

“This collaboration with the Bike Station is an example of our work in action: it’s about providing people the chance to learn a new skill, improving self-confidence and providing a means of transport; for instance, for job interviews.

Carolanne Boyle, aged 43, first became homeless during her early 20s, following a relationship breakdown. She has been homeless, on and off these last 20 years or so, but is now benefitting from the support of Simon Community Scotland in various guises, including gardening in a local allotment.

She said:

“I never imagined myself being able to build a bike, from scratch, but here I am.

“The bike is built, it’s helping me keep fit and I’m cycling every day. It’s really helping me turn my life around.

“I am now starting to get my weight sorted. With Simon Community Scotland, I’m doing so much, it’s really constructive.

Several events are schedule this month to mark the Simon Community Scotland’s birthday, the highlight being a ‘shindig’, on the 29th, involving service users, staff, volunteers and partner organisations.

Says Victoria Leiper, project manager at The Bike Station:

“The build-your-own bike courses are not just about bike building but also cover key skills such as route planning and safe on-road cycling – including going out on the roads.

“By the end of the course, the ladies not only have a bike to get them from A to B but the skills and confidence to cycle as a mode of travel.

“The partnership we have with Simon Community Scotland is all about providing opportunities for people that make a difference to their day-to-day lives – we are a great fit and are thrilled to be working with such a worthwhile and established organisation.

ENDS

Carly’s Story: From Prison to Presentations!

Carly’s Story: From Prison to Presentations!

Tough Start


Growing up was difficult and quite chaotic at times. I remember feeling really ashamed and didn’t like myself. I saw the world as a hostile place. I quickly learned if I shouted louder and fought better that would keep people away – I didn’t want people to see the real me. I was quite popular and had lots of friends but wasn’t close to anyone. I felt alone. I was always up in arms against the world.

Hard times

When I started using I felt better. Nothing else mattered and I was complete. It was just alcohol and hash at first but I moved on to harder drugs quite quickly and addiction took over. I would do anything for money for drugs which included shoplifting. I got my first remand in Corntonvale when I was sixteen. Life was pretty much a cycle of making money and getting drugs. One day I woke up to find my boyfriend dead beside me from an overdose.

I felt scared, alone and angry. I went into a Detox centre but I didn’t care about anything anymore. I was asked to leave as my behaviour was really bad. Five days later I had a hit of Coke and had a massive brain haemorrhage which led to a stroke. I was paralysed down my right hand side and couldn’t walk or talk. I was 27.

I spent a year in the Southern General re-learning to walk, talk and live again.

New hope, new accommodation and new challenges

After I came out of hospital I went into a supported accommodation place. I had lost my home while I was in the hospital ­– they just changed the locks. I got a new house in the West End that I have now managed to maintain for 11 years. I stayed clean for four years, went to college and on holidays. I was really living life.

Then I had a number of health problems for which I was put on opiate medication. I was off and running again. This time I went into a rehabilitation service. I knew what I had to do: you have to look at your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and make changes.

Volunteering and new work

I do voluntary work now and I’m so passionate because it changes people’s lives.

To become a Peer Volunteer for the Simon Community we did 12 weeks training. The training was brilliant and it helped with my confidence and self-esteem.

I even had the confidence to apply for a Hepatitis C Community Trainee position with Waverley Care. I was really nervous going for the interview. I went to the Simon Community to pick up my training certificates beforehand and was told to “just be myself and that’s what I did. Waverley Care phoned that afternoon to offer me the position: I think I screamed! I couldn’t believe it especially as I thought that I had messed the interview up.

I have been at Waverley Care a couple of months now. I’m working with people affected by Hepatitis and I use my lived experience to help empathise with others. I have fitted in with the staff team and I’m learning all the time. They are also helping to put me through my SVQ3. There have been challenges but I’m facing them and reflecting on what I could have done differently. Sometimes I can’t believe how different my life is.

Brighter horizons

This past year has been amazing. I’m even learning to drive which I thought would never happen as I only have the use of one hand. I can do anything I put my mind to. From a wheelchair to four wheels driving around and from prison to presentations with my work: Now that’s what I call living life!

Ellis’ Story: Moving On

Love and loss

I came to Glasgow 12 years ago from Manchester for a two-week holiday. I never went back because I met my future wife and step children. We had a good a life together and a solid relationship for 10 years until the passing of my step daughter.

The strain of this bereavement resulted in the breakdown of our family. Without the network of family and friends that I had enjoyed in Manchester and, having nowhere else to go, I encountered my first experience of homelessness.

Homeless and struggling

I spent my first night homeless sleeping in the reception of a police station. I had presented as homeless at the Council and was advised that I didn’t have a local connection in Glasgow and was sent back to North Lanarkshire Council. They found me a temporary accommodation hostel in Motherwell. However as they were full, an office was converted and I was provided with a mattress to sleep on. I spent two nights there before a room – a shared living space – became available.

During this time my head was all over the place; I couldn’t concentrate on what was going on around me. I couldn’t think clearly about my finances or what would happen next.

Kind help

It was at this time I was introduced to Geraldine, a support worker from the Simon Community. This was such a blessing – it was the first normal conversation that I had had with someone!

Getting through difficult times

A month later North Lanarkshire Council gave me a ‘Scatter Flat’. It was better than being on the streets, but it was damp and freezing. I suffered depression and felt isolated. It was the lowest point of my life. What got me through was the thought of seeing and spending time with my grandchildren.

I also got a new key worker, David. We built a good rapport and he went above and beyond to help me. One day David and I had a conversation about what I had done in my life and things that I had achieved. He suggested that I look into doing “peer support where people who have experienced homelessness become volunteers and work with others who find themselves homeless.

The Simon Community’s Hub (on London Road) offer advice and information to people who are homeless. They were just about to recruit peer volunteers. When the day came to attend the peer volunteer interview I felt apprehensive and anxious. I really didn’t want to be there but, because of the encouragement I had been given from my support worker, I felt I needed to give it a go. I have never looked back!

New confidence

I have been involved in the daily running of the Hub and various training days. Through all this I have built up good connections with the other peers and staff. The Simon Community have helped my personal development and I have taken part in different activities and projects, including speaking at the AGM and conducting interviews with service users as part of the Self Directed Support Pilot for the Scottish Government. During these interviews, I used my lived experience to make people feel at ease. All this has built my confidence and encouraged me to get involved in other projects.

I now have a better understanding of homelessness and all the issues that come with it and that no two people are the same.

Making a difference

The experience has truly made me feel like part of something and valued. It also made me realise that I want a career in Social Care. I am currently seeking employment within this field. I could not have got here without the hard work I have put in and the achievements that I have made whilst working with the Simon Community.

Personally, life has got better and better. I recently moved into my own flat and I feel settled. Volunteering has built up my self-esteem and confidence. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I may not have all the answers but I can certainly try! I enjoy learning new things and I am starting to feel like I make a difference.