These two issues are inextricably linked. People experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness suffer from incredible stress and have very often experienced significant trauma in their lives. As Chief Executive of Simon Community Scotland, our country’s largest provider of homeslessness support services, I am very aware of this; in fact we see very few people accessing our services who do not also have significant and long term mental health problems.
Even for those of us fortunate enough to have our own home, it feels like all of our worlds have been turned upside down. We understand budgets at home and at work are being cut, but for the sake of those at the very sharp end of the cost of living crisis, any support that can be provided will make a huge impact to those without a home.
We’re here for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
We’re here for those without a home, but as we’re in the front line and at the very sharp end of the cost of living crisis, we’re going to need to do more than ever to help. We’re going to need more skills and more resources. This winter is going to be a dark time for everyone in difficult circumstances but for some, like the people we support, it is the darkest of times that we may have ever seen. We occupy a unique position, reaching and connecting with people that others often can’t. We are all much closer to a risk of not having enough to live a good life these days, but few of us will ever feel the extreme impact of not having a safe place to call home.
Our teams are likely to see a massive increase in people seeking our help, somewhere around 8000 people this year. We work tirelessly to support those at risk of or not having a safe place to call home. Our support is delivered through our street teams, support hubs, supported accommodation services and our outreach teams. We are also delivering support through our housing first programmes, our Simon Community Scotland homes and Scotland’s first ever Managed Alcohol Programme. We meet people where they are. We walk alongside them. We never give up.
It takes time, significant time and, dare I say it, money, to help someone through the trauma of homelessness. It takes skill, understanding and unswerving commitment, particularly when someone has such poor mental health that it can make accepting support and change very difficult or having any hope that life can be better. We now have the added pressures that they simply cannot afford to live, it’s a cost of life crisis for them. It’s very difficult for staff to hear people who have no home, who are existing in hotel rooms or hostel type environments say they are fearful of accepting a flat to call their home, because they believe they won’t cope financially. People are facing challenges they have no control over, they’re scared and desperate for help, advice and support.
I am appealing to businesses across Scotland to please help if you can. More people are in and at risk of the most extreme harms in Scotland than ever before and people who never thought they might be at risk are seeking our support.
We will shortly be launching our Winter Appeal; I can assure you that if you choose to support our work that you’ll be changing and saving lives, you’ll be offering hope and hope is what we all need right now.
This is urgent. This is a crisis.
Please email me directly at email@example.com if you would like to meet me and my team for a chat to discuss how your company could help.