Tag Archives: Making Change

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

ENDS

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

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

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.

Eagerly Awaited SDS Research Report Launch!

Exploring how to make Self-directed Support a reality for people affected by homelessness.


New legislation relating to Social Care support has been introduced in Scotland. Self-directed Support (SDS) opens up a range of choice in how people are supported to resolve their homelessness. We identified a significant gap in understanding, availability and good practice support in relation to SDS in Homelessness.

Successful recipients of Scottish Government Capacity Building Funding

We secured Scottish Governments funding to run a capacity building pilot that would explore these issues and build understanding across homelessness. Our aim was to explore whether SDS could work in homelessness and what would be needed to enable a move to an SDS approach.

City-wide engagement

Through this research and with the help of Peer Volunteers, we engaged with a wide range of service users, partners and stakeholders across Glasgow who shared their insights, concerns and ideas.

Report Highlights

The report on this research was launched at our AGM on Tuesday 24th November and is available to download from our website. It highlights that we need to find ways to overcome the lack of understanding about SDS, bust the myths and build confidence that will help people move on from homelessness more positively.

Reflections

Ashley Young and Glenda Meechan led the Self-directed Support Research Pilot Project. Ashley reflects on this experience:

‘For too long people affected by homelessness have been unable to access self-directed support therefore the work we are doing to raise awareness of SDS across the sector is incredibly important’.

‘It was incredibly exciting being part of the team tasked with helping to raise awareness of SDS across the homelessness sector. We engaged with over 300 people and using the information we collected were able to produce a report that that we hope will be used to inform what happens next. This is ground-breaking work and I believe SDS has the potential to make a huge difference to lives of the people we support’.

Service Users views:

  • I would grab choice with both hands if it was offered
  • Currently it feels like it’s ‘one size fits all’ but I think support should be more personalised
  • Being involved in making decisions about my support would make me feel involved and worth something

Stakeholder views:

  • SDS could bring positive changes to people’s lives
  • I feel that with good partnership working we would be able to meet the challenges head on
  • I am very much in favour of people who require social care services managing / directing their support for all of the obvious reasons

See the Executive summary here.

Nicola Sturgeon Puts The Spotlight on Homelessness

This year we have been honoured and delighted to have received input from Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.


In January she visited our Maxwell Drive service and then delivered the keynote address at our re-launch event in February. Her support and personal interest has added significant profile and value to our work.

During her visit to Maxwell Drive, Nicola gave significant time to get to know and be with the women at the service and to really understand their challenges. She listened to their stories of how homelessness has impacted on them and the value they now feel in themselves. It meant a great deal to the women that someone – seen as so important – took so much time to listen to their story. The women felt they really mattered and what they had to say was really worth hearing.

Nicola’s presence and delivery at our re-launch was a fitting endorsement of our shift to a more national focus as Simon Community Scotland. We look forward to growing from strength to strength and joining with others across Scotland to combat the causes and harsh effects of homelessness.