Category Archives: Inspiring Stories

Inspiring Stories from Simon Community Scotland

My Harm Reduction Story

By Hannah Boyle

Last week I took post as Women’s Harm Reduction Coordinator. I started with Simon Community Scotland just prior to the pandemic as a Support Worker in women’s services. As my first job in social care, I have had to learn on the job and through experience, which has given me the privileged position of embracing harm reduction within my practice. In March 2020, due to the shutdown of the majority of necessary interventions, we were fearful that crisis centres and Injecting Equipment Provision services may be forced to close, putting our women in a higher state of risk than they already are. We believe in bringing services directly to people wherever possible, and so began to operate Injecting Equipment Provision within our women’s projects. 

As Claire Longmuir (Policy and Practice Lead for Harm Reduction) came into post, the culture towards drug use began to shift. The people we support face some of the most oppression in society today, and regularly endure stigma and discrimination which prevents the right support being accessed and effectively, lives being saved. 

By beginning to move towards a harm reduction model in the services, the therapeutic relationships we have with the people we support began to blossom in a whole new direction. Suddenly, the women were not afraid to be open and honest about their drug use for fear of punitive action being taken against them. We heard stories of women being “chucked out” of services or threats of police action being taken against them. We heard of how women who inject drugs were forced to use on the streets, susceptible to all forms of exploitation, bacteria and increased levels of vulnerability. We heard of how women would use drugs in accommodation services but rush for fear of staff interrupting and be more at risk of overdose. We heard of women using drugs in bathrooms, behind closed doors, aware that the risk of death was severe if they were to overdose – but feeling it was their only option.

Hearing these stories and having the privilege to be trusted with the treatment that women who use drugs have faced for far too long, it moved me to do more to challenge stigma against drug use and promote an empowering culture of tolerance and acceptance. 

At Simon Community Scotland, our values are what drive forward our practice. Our staff teams are passionate, empathetic individuals who put people first and ensure their voices are at the centre of everything we do. By embracing the harm reduction model, we accept the whole parts of a person, not separating them from their drug use and deeming them “too hard to engage” or “too difficult to support”. We believe in human rights and everyone being treated with warmth and regard, dignity and respect. 

Our staff have the privilege of building therapeutic, trauma-informed relationships with the people we support and empowering them to achieve the best possible outcomes. We have seen firsthand the power of these therapeutic relationships and the comfort and connection they provide to people experiencing homelessness. This is why we’re so good at what we do.

The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety – it’s connection Johann Hari

Over the last year we have been working hard to embed and build harm reduction more into our policies and practice in order to prevent drug-related harm. Through this approach, we have seen these relationships grow and the people living in our services feel more comfortable discussing and accessing support for their drug use without fear of discriminiation and punitive action being taken.

I have seen firsthand the impact of this shift within our services. The women we support feel able to be open and honest about their drug use and in turn, access support that benefits their lives. Staff are more confident identifying risks, for example concerning injecting related wounds or signs and symptoms of overdose and how to manage this. In my time spent working in women’s services, I have seen firsthand the number of fatal overdoses decline. Whether that is due to the power of these therapeutic relationships or staff being confident to manage overdose and save lives, who is to say… All I know is that what we are doing is working. 

We provide a home, a safe place to live, but we also provide life changing relationships, giving the people we support the respect they deserve, having them directly feed into policies to ensure their voice is truly at the centre of everything we do.

Not why the addiction, but why the pain? — Gabor Mate 

Within my new role, I will have the opportunity to co-produce harm reduction resources with the women using our services that will directly benefit their lives. Recently, I supported one of the women living in our services to meet with Scottish Government representatives and discuss our Digital Response to Harm Reduction and the impact it has had on her life (which you can hear Jodie speaking about in the new SCS podcast!) These are Jodie’s words:

“It gave me a wee bit of relief because I’m a recovering addict, so it’s helped me get to online meetings, it’s helped me when I’ve been struggling and I’ve been down.

I can get connected to fellowship and I’ve been able to use Zoom, Whatsapp, Facebook, even say hello to a friend online has helped my mental health. It’s helped my whole wellbeing. It’s gave me a whole new outlook. It makes me feel wanted, it makes me feel needed and that as a homeless addict, that’s all we want, is to feel wanted and feel needed in other people’s lives and this is what the digital scheme gives.”

This project has a vital part to play – not only in tackling drug-related deaths and drug-related harm, but also in challenging the stigma and discrimination people who use drugs face, specifically women. At the heart of our Digital Approach to Harm Reduction, are the voices of the women we support. This will provide them the opportunity to input directly into resources that will benefit them and in the long run, work to save lives. I am so excited for the year ahead and the wonderful things the people we support will produce. 

– Written by Hannah Boyle, Women’s Harm Reduction Co-ordinator

Talking about overdose could save a life

Overdose Awareness Day

August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day, and a day for us to pause, remember, and act for those who have lost their life to overdose.  One thousand, three hundred and thirty nine people lost their lives to drugs in Scotland last year.  The highest in Europe, each person a unique human being, someone with family, friends and communities who loved them and sadly lost them to overdose. 

People that Simon Community Scotland work alongside often face some of the most difficult situations and circumstances.  Many people have struggled with problem alcohol and other drug use for many years, a consequence of systemic and relational failures in keeping them safe, cared for and included. Homelessness is another consequence.  More than half of the deaths of people experiencing homelessness were drug related (NRS Scotland).  Today is a day to consider what else needs to be done to support people who are at risk of overdose. We know that the answer to this is complex and far reaching, that it requires all of us to be committed to change, it requires what is seen as a radical shift in thinking and approach.  It requires putting people at the centre of their care, access to support when needed, informed choice, a range of treatments, good quality and sustained housing.  It requires radical kindness, compassion and understanding.  Addressing and dismantling stigma seen and felt across all sectors of society.  It requires all of us. 

So far this year within our services, staff have administered Naloxone over 70 times – this was close to 100 last year.  Last week alone, one of our incredible colleagues responded to an overdose in the street after being alerted by a local cafe owner, another saved someone’s life in one of our residential services, so many lives have been saved.  Yet, amongst these stories are also ones where we haven’t been there on time, where we were just too late. We have lost two people to overdose this year, the impact of these losses ripple far and wide across our staff teams and those who were the closest to them.  This year, on Overdose Awareness Day, we will be holding memorial events for the people living in our services and staff to remember and mourn those they have lost.  Not just for this year, sadly so many people have suffered so much loss, so much grief, so much pain.  We need to do more. 

Naloxone allows us to intervene in an overdose situation and save a life – we are passionate supporters of Naloxone within homelessness settings, and anywhere where people who may be at risk of overdose may be.  We see Naloxone as part of a wide range of interventions and approaches to reduce the risk of overdose, support people to feel included, cared for, loved. 

Reducing the harm is everyone’s responsibility – it needs to be if we are going to start having an impact on the amount of people lost to overdose each year.  This requires us to put relationships, compassion, dignity and rights at the centre of every interaction we have with a person who may be at risk of overdose. 

We need to stop turning people away but bring them in, stick with people, listen, learn and strive to understand.  Each person lost to overdose is a preventable death – someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, friend.  

On this Overdose Awareness Day we stand with all those who have lost a loved one to overdose, to challenge the stigma facing people who use drugs and to work for change.  Every life matters. 

Naloxone Saves Lives

First Life Saved

Written by Hannah Robertson-Newman

I am an outreach worker for the street team for Streetwork in Edinburgh, it’s part of Simon Community Scotland and my job is to try to guide rough sleepers to access support and try to find a safe place to live.

We decide to go down towards Leith, it’s a Saturday night and it’s busy with a lot of people in bars plus the Lion King is being shown at the playhouse, the crowds will probably attract more people begging. Freddy and I both stop to fix our matching waterproof jackets in a hopeful attempt to stay dry and note that we have already walked 16,000 steps today. The crowd swarming into their various destinations carries us as we begin walking towards Leith, both of us looking down to make sure we spot anyone begging.

We turn a corner and I notice that a few bodies in the crowd have stopped and that the steady stream of people was moving out the way of something, the way water flows around a boulder. Freddy and I both go over to investigate. This is when I first start to worry, it is a body laying on the ground, the spectators look panicked, someone is on the phone but nobody is touching him, nobody seems to want to get too close. It’s a young man, wearing loose clothing that is ripped and stained in places he is laying out on the dirty floor with a blanket over his legs that is soaked through, he is painfully thin and his pale face has an expression of lost oblivion. He could easily be mistaken for a pile of rubbish tossed to the side waiting for someone else to come along and clean up, there is a cup in front of him with a few coppers in. I get closer and look at his face, my stomach sinks, I know him. 

Street Team Member on Patrol

Tony, he is young, no older than 22. I had sat with him only a few days before talking about his life. He is charismatic and cheeky. Tony only knows the streets, he was raised in the protective community bubble of shared trauma. His brother begs near here and I know both of them are currently sleeping in a bin shed. We have tried to get both brothers into accommodation and into safety but they are hesitant, they do not trust the system that has let them down so much. The pull of addiction has been a constant in Tony’s life for as long as he can remember, his parents were addicts and when he was in care he began to use to escape the pain. Tony is a deep soul, he is creative and witty, he likes art and talks about the cars he would like. Tony is fearful, he does not fully believe life could get better, it has been on a downward trajectory since he can remember and though the offer for accommodation is there how does he know that it would be better? And what happens if he puts his hopes on it and trusts again then it is taken away from him? No better to stay safe in what he knows he can survive on the street, he has his brother, and he has the comforting oblivion that comes with his gear to take away the pain. 

I push past the onlookers trying to pretend that I am the confident professional I am meant to be and say I know him when people look. I get close to his face and call his name, no response. His eyes are open and glazed. I have never noticed before they are a sharp blue, I look closer, my heart beating and see the unmistakable tiny pupils of pinprick eyes that go hand in hand with opiate use. I shake his shoulder and call his name. I am praying to anyone that will listen that he will sit up, tell me to go away, tell me I’m overreacting and he is fine, anything… but nothing. My heart sinks and I look at Freddy who shares my concern, this is an overdose I am sure of it but we have both only just received our training a few weeks ago and have not yet put it into action. 

Opiate overdoses can be reversed with a drug called Naloxone, it is a clever invention that has saved so many lives of those most in pain. I got my training a few weeks ago, it was fun and relaxed and the trainer explained how it affects the opiate in the brain and can buy time for an ambulance to arrive. We enjoyed chatting about risk factors while injecting the naloxone into oranges and practising CPR. It felt very controlled and calm and a mile away from the reality I was in now sitting, with the rain pouring down while a crowd watch me. 

I look up and the police have arrived, four of them drawn over by the crowd probably. I am hopeful for a second, the police are here! They are who you expect to save the day in an emergency! But then realisation dawns on me, Police aren’t trained on Naloxone, I am, Police don’t carry Naloxone, but I do, it’s going to be up to me. I have a brief conversation with a police officer and as soon as I mention I work for Streetwork and I am Naloxone trained he seems relieved himself. Police seem to act without the need for much discussion, apparently, through years of experience, they automatically begin controlling the crowd of onlookers and clearing space for me to work. One officer informs me that the ambulance is on the way but it’s a Saturday night, it’s busy, I nod my head with realisation overdoses aren’t the biggest priority.

My attention goes back to Tony, he looks younger than 22 he could easily pass for a high school kid, I guess in some ways with his limited experiences in life this is true. I put my hand under his head. I want to protect him from the cold concrete. Freddy and I work to lay him flat, he is soaked through and boney. I am also soggy now that I am on the ground with him, I am shaking with a mixture of cold and adrenaline. I listen to his breathing, it is shallow but it is there, relief for the first time, this means I don’t need to do CPR at this moment. I go to my bag and pull out the yellow box of the Naloxone kit and peel off the plastic wrapper. I crack the casing open in the way I was taught only a few weeks ago and it springs open, so seamless. Inside there are two blue needles, a syringe with a stopper on the top and an instruction leaflet, everything you need to save a life. I pick up one needle encased in a plastic wrapper and the barrel. I have trained in this action, attaching the needle to the barrel but my hands are shaking and I keep fumbling with the stopper, Freddy takes it off me and doses it. I go to Tony and I call his name again. I start telling him it’s going to be okay. I am here, I don’t know if he can hear me. I roll him into the recovery position on his side one hand to protect his head from the cold concrete and with one leg bent up… it looks just like how I sleep. 

Freddy hands me the needle, he has a pleading look on his face. It’s his first time seeing this as well and I can tell he wants me to take the lead. I take the needle in my hand and look at Tony, he is drooling slightly, his breath slow and raspy, I inject him in the leg with the Naloxone, one dose, just like I am trained to do. It’s a weird sensation injecting another human and I thank the designer of the Naloxone kit silently in my head for having the forethought of measuring out the different doses on the side of the syringe. I sit back. I know I need to wait for 2 to 3 minutes is all it takes for this wonder drug to do magic, I keep calling Tony’s name hoping to bring him back to me. 

There is a long heavy pause while the rain keeps coming down, a puddle has started to form right where I am sitting. Tony stirs, he lets out a long moan and I hear his breathing start to return to normal. His eyes become more focused and he looks at me, he is angry “what are you doing?” he demands. It’s not unnormal for someone to come back to reality and not be happy about it, I have just taken his high away from him and he may have been begging all day for that chance of relief. Tony doesn’t know how terrified I was seeing his lifeless pale body crumpled on the ground and just how close it seemed that his breathing would stop forever. Tony only knows he was at peace in quiet oblivion away from pain then I came along stabbed him in the leg with a sharp needle and dragged him back to the cold and rainy reality. 

That was my first time intervening with someone who overdosed, I have had a lot more experience and I may be well practised now but it still scares me, each time I came close to watching a life slip away but managed to help guide it back. I saw Tony not long after he was taken away by the ambulance crew that night. We were talking and he suddenly looked at me with a clear realisation “you Naloxoned me didn’t you? “, “Yes” I replied, waiting for him to be angry at me for taking his high away from him. “Thank you,” He said looking away “I didn’t want to die”. 

You're worth your room on this Earth.

Tony is doing well now he is in a flat with his brother, the first time they have trusted that four walls won’t be taken away from them in a long time. They are building an existence for themselves that isn’t purely encapsulating their desire to escape reality, now their reality isn’t so bad they don’t want to flee from it. To save someone from an overdose means that they have time to save themselves, and I thank everything that I was there that soggy night with my Naloxone kit when Tony needed me.

– All Simon Community Scotland on site staff, including our Street teams, are trained in the use of Naloxone.

Get Connected 100

Get Connected 100 – Life Changing Results

Connecting 100 People Experiencing Homelessness to the Digital World

Click here to read the full Get Connected 100 Report.

Simon Community Scotland’s Get Digital Scotland Programme has been delivering the Get Connected 100 project with our Get Digital Partners throughout Scotland. Starting in March 2021, with funding from the Scottish Government, we provided 100 people experiencing homelessness with:

  • A digital device
  • Unlimited connectivity
  • Support from a trained Digital Champion  
  • A learning framework of digital skills
Device Data Support Framework Get Digital 100

What happened?

We have seen overwhelmingly positive impact and profound life changing outcomes for the people participating in this project.

Participants have been using their devices to increase their quality of life in so many different ways. People were able to connect with friends and family, reach support networks, stay up to date with the latest news, access government services, manage personal finances (including their benefits), access online entertainment and content to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Participant in Get Connected 100

Life changing stats

The evidence gathered from staff and participant surveys show that the project has delivered astounding results:

What participants said:

  • 96% improved quality of life
  • 91% increased their use of digital tools
  • 92% place more value on connecting to the internet
  • 94% will continue to use digital
  • 99% found Digital Champion support helpful

What digital champions said:

  • 85% of participants increased engagement in support
  • 100% of participants lives were positively affected


Absolutely buzzing! I am young and enjoy socialising and this now allows me to enjoy all the things I have missed for a long time. I feel more connected to other people and to the world as a whole.” 
Supported person in Fife
The best thing about this project?… Everything”
Supported person in Aberdeen
Participant in Get Connected 100
There have been so many positives – people having better contact with their family/friends, being able to access things they enjoy such as TV shows and movies or games, being able to access recovery meetings and groups, accessing apps for exercise and meditation purposes.” 
Digital Champion in Glasgow.
It’s been great seeing service users developing digital skills from the framework – being more engaged with services, family, friends and more careful with budgeting their money.” 
Digital Champion in Aberdeen

10 Life Changing Impacts

We conducted extensive interviews with people involved in the project and found 10 life changing impacts that came up over and over again:

Life changing impacts
  1. Increasing life opportunities 
  2. Strengthening dignity and respect
  3. Enabling connection with friends and family and other support networks
  4. Accessing services and support
  5. Promoting mental health and wellbeing
  6. Enabling autonomy and independence
  7. Giving freedom and peace of mind
  8. Supporting recovery – a digital approach to harm reduction
  9. Stimulating education, learning and self development
  10. Changing perceptions and challenging stigma

Read more about these 10 life changing impacts in the full Get Connected 100 report.

Digital Inclusion is a Pathway to Inclusion in Other Critical Life Areas

When people can access the digital world, they are able to access other inclusion agendas such as social inclusion, health inclusion, financial inclusion, democratic inclusion, educational inclusion, cultural inclusion and inclusion in public services. This project doesn’t just include people in ‘digital’, it includes people in many other critical life areas. When people face multiple exclusions, ‘Digital’ is a pathway back into society and is an essential part of the solution to recovery from homelessness.

Exclusion vs Inclusion

What’s Next?

We are currently exploring ways to expand this project to help more people ‘Get Connected’, recover from homelessness and thrive.

A word from Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government:

“I am delighted the Scottish Government provided £40,000 to fund this project. It is ensuring 100 people experiencing homelessness get connected to the digital world. The pandemic has shown us that access to digital equipment, data and skills is a basic necessity and not a luxury which is why the Scottish Government is focusing on digital inclusion. The project has highlighted the importance of digital inclusion as a key way of supporting people to recover from homelessness and achieve life changing outcomes.

This has been made possible due the commitment of the Simon Community, their Get Digital Partners and of course the people participating and I want to thank everyone involved.”

Thank You

Get Connected 100 was all made possible by contributions from an incredible team of people and organisations working together in partnership. We’d like to thank the participants in the project, our amazing digital champions, Simon Community Scotland services, our Get Digital Partners (Seascape [Ayrshire], CATH and Turning point Scotland [Perth], Aberdeen Cyrenians [Aberdeen], Frontline Fife [Fife]), our friends at Mhor Collective and the Scottish Government.

Click here to read the full Get Connected 100 Report.

Listening with Kindness

Listening with kindness


#SpacesForListening is about human connection and mutual support. Led by our colleagues Claire and Melissa, we have been experimenting with #SpacesForListening in our team. People are at the heart of all we do and this format aligns strongly with our commitment to compassion and relational leadership development. 

Claire and Melissa recently contributed to this blog. It is introduced by the instigators of #SpacesForListening, Charlie Jones and Brigid Russell, and was originally featured on Medium.

We need to create spaces for the real conversations in our workplaces. But how? Isn’t that a bit risky? What if people get upset? Don’t we need specialist training for something like this?

Let’s be clear at the outset. We aren’t dismissing the value of professional expertise, of course there is a time and a place for this. But most of the time, do we need an expert who is ‘qualified’ to host a space to have supportive conversations? Surely for most of us, most of the time, what we need is to feel heard; the chance to have a supportive conversation with a peer or group of peers.

What if we create spaces which are for everyone, and anyone, and make them ‘safe enough’ with a light structure? We can each make an informed choice to take part, and then choose to say what we like, or pass if we do not want to say anything. We can meet in a spirit of generosity, giving each other equality of time for listening. We can listen, without trying to jump in to ‘fix’ the other person.

We meet as people in #SpacesForListening with no job titles or hierarchical formality. We hear our commonalities, and we have the space to be curious and respectful about our differences. We feel connected through listening to each other, knowing and trusting that it is helpful to be able to tell some of our story without interruption. To tell our stories in our own words, unedited, and free of jargon.

You are not alone

In our blog in November 2020 we wrote that the spirit of #SpacesForListening has been to get on with it, keep it simple, and create a place which feels welcoming for people to come together. It’s been uplifting to connect with people around the UK and beyond who are putting #SpacesForListening into practice in their own contexts. We are delighted to introduce this guest blog about the impact of creating spaces for listening within Simon Community Scotland.

For the people who need to seek support from Simon Community Scotland the doors are always open. There are no ‘criteria’ for entry, it’s not scary or formal, there’s no hierarchy or judgment. As #SpacesForListening ripples out in an open and organic way, it is about letting go and trusting that there are so many people out there who get it — who get the point of listening to each other in the spirit of generosity, humanity, and community. It won’t be for everybody, and that’s OK too. It’s the risk we take, and it’s a risk well worth taking as this example from the Simon Community Scotland illustrates beautifully. It’s the risk of being human.

#SpacesForListening caught me off guard. I didn’t know what to expect when I first entered the space. It showed me how much emotional baggage I was carrying around with me without even knowing. What I found the most refreshing, the most impactful, was that no one was there to try and ‘fix’ anything. A truly unique experience, one which has had a lasting impact on me both personally and professionally. The power of being heard and the simplicity in just listening to others without expectation was exceptionally and unexpectedly life-changing…”
#SpacesForListening Participant at Simon Community Scotland

Over to Claire & Melissa …

Introducing #SpacesForListening within Simon Community Scotland has come at a time where we, as a sector, as a society, and as individuals, have been faced with a set of extremes.

COVID-19 has brought into sharp relief the inequalities which exist within communities and no more so than for those experiencing homelessness. COVID-19, the immediate effects and the wider repercussions of lock-down measures and the stay at home message, have impacted on the people who use our services and our staff teams in ways we couldn’t have anticipated this time last year.

Compassion, understanding, and kindness in our systems and towards one another have never been more needed. Yet, while these may seem obvious, and are very often assumed, too often these principles can be missed or overlooked in times of crisis when our attention is so focused on what needs to be done. At a time when the focus was on securing safety for others, were we paying attention to the importance of creating safety for ourselves?

#SpacesForListening is helping us take time to care for each other
#SpacesForListening is helping us take time to care for each other

While many people were told to stay home, in Simon Community Scotland our world got a lot busier. Our staff teams, like so many others on the front line, have continued to support people experiencing homelessness, worked with partners to ensure people experiencing rough sleeping were safe and housed, and continued to provide services on the front line, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The now popular phrase of ‘we are all in the same storm, but in different boats’ rings very true within our organisation.

The relentless negative news and information which has dominated our feeds and our consciousness has often brought with it feelings of anxiety over what else is yet to come. However, while social media can often be criticised for polarising us, during the pandemic and through times of increased social isolation and loneliness it has offered vital connection, sharing, and community.

No more so than through #SpacesForListening.

Connecting through Twitter and being invited into a space with Brigid and Charlie was driven through curiosity around what #SpacesForListening was all about. Being invited to join a group of strangers to simply listen was initially quite daunting. Yet, the results were rather extraordinary. Listening is something we all think we know how to do, but it wasn’t until the time was protected, and the noise was quietened, did it become apparent how little listening we actually do to and for one another. And how powerful it can be to simply listen to one another, and to be heard. There is a real kindness in it, a connection, and a relief.

This must be the place

So far we have facilitated eight #SpacesForListening within Simon Community Scotland — and the early feedback from our staff highlights the potential this simple, structured space has in offering much needed breathing space.

At first, we wondered whether they would work — was it the anonymity that provided the magic? Was it that it was facilitated by Brigid or Charlie? Was there something specialist about it we would struggle to replicate internally? Was it too much of a risk to invite people to share their experiences during the pandemic? Our questions were answered during the first session.

Spaces for Listening was not like any other group support, training, or therapeutic session I have ever taken part in. There was nothing contrived about it, no hidden design or ulterior motive, no analysis or attempt to ‘solve’ each other, just an open safe space to fill with your thoughts — the result was really quite powerful”.
#SpacesForListening Participant at Simon Community Scotland

Within Simon Community we live by the philosophy — make it easy, make it right, and make it happen. And that is what we did. We offered a space for people to voluntarily enter into as adults, we provided information to ensure they knew what they were signing up for, and we left the door open to link in with support if they needed it. We made it safe enough, as safe as any of us can hope for. We prioritised connection and kindness. Facilitating #SpacesForListening internally has its own unique power. We have a shared understanding as colleagues, a commonality; we are — in many ways — in the same boat.

The overwhelming power that is naturally created by eight people listening to each other blows my mind every time. Such a simple but organic concept is helping to heal hearts. Emotions that are normally hidden are allowed to be exposed and we are all allowed to be real”.
#SpacesForListening Participant at Simon Community Scotland
Simon Community colleagues being playful with our #OneTeam hashtag!

The past 10 months have tested our resilience in ways no one could have expected, it has been dominated by stories of loss and fear and change. Yet our staff have continued to turn up, continued to deliver excellence, and continued to provide support and care for people experiencing homelessness day in and day out. What #SpacesForListening has offered us, as an organisation, is a space to be vulnerable, to show that it has been really hard, and to find a bit of common humanity and connection. It offers more than a well-being intervention, it builds on the type of organisation we want to be. With kindness, compassion, and connection at the centre for both our staff and for the people we support.

SpacesForListening gave me a place where I could breathe. It let me be ‘off duty’ from life and work for a while and just be me, and that felt good”.
#SpacesForListening Participant at Simon Community Scotland
Self care isn't selfish

It has allowed us to level the playing field — we are all people, all with our own lives inside and outside of work regardless of what our role is within the organisation. In order to perform our roles well, it’s essential we bring our whole selves to work as relationships are central to what we do. Showing kindness, compassion, and understanding is the foundation of our practice. #SpacesForListening has shown us how important it is to give to ourselves too. It has invited people to listen to each other with kindness, and to be heard. And what we have learned in the last couple of months is that, actually, sometimes, that is what we need most.

Thank you to Claire & Melissa and all their colleagues in Simon Community Scotland for sharing so generously their experiences of #SpacesForListening with us. We are keen to share more about the experiences of #SpacesForListening as they ripple out farther and wider — and we invite the people who are putting spaces into practice in their own context to keep in touch with us. You can find us on Twitter @charlie_psych @brigidrussell51 @clongmuir88

See more about spaces for listening in participants’ own words by searching #SpacesForListening on Twitter.