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News from Simon Community Scotland

A fantastic initiative and a much needed resource centre for people experiencing homelessness in Glasgow

We’re very lucky to have amazing Simon Community Scotland ambassadors who are passionate about the work we do and will support us in any way they can. Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue officially opened the Access Hub at the end of September. 

After cutting the ribbon Lorraine made a short speech which really hit home with all of us “It’s a real privilege and a great honour for Ricky and I to be here to celebrate the opening of the Access Hub. This Hub is a fantastic initiative from Simon Community Scotland and a much needed resource centre for people experiencing homelessness in Glasgow.

Living in Glasgow I, and most folk I know, have been saddened and frustrated at the amount of people who seemed to have nowhere to call home but the streets of our city.

This Access Hub is the latest step in not only improving figures for homelessness but for eradicating it

Homelessness, as I’m sure you all know, is a complex issue which has a devastating impact on those who experience it. Working as ambassadors with Simon Community over the last year or so we have both been amazed and encouraged by the work we’ve witnessed. This Access Hub is the latest step in not only improving figures for homelessness but for eradicating it.”

Lorraine continued “It’s taken several years and a huge commitment, but today the people of Glasgow can celebrate some good news and be proud that, here, our most needy citizens can access help and support by walking in off the street. Here there is everything from legal advice, monthly sessions with the DWP, health care for not only themselves but their beloved dogs, counselling, story telling…the list is long and impressive.

Interior of the Access Hub

The people of Glasgow can celebrate some good news and be proud that, here, our most needy citizens can access help and support by walking in off the street

Living through these difficult times when all our lives have been affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic, it has been amazing to see that when it comes to solving the problem of homelessness, where there’s a will there’s a way. During this time rough sleeping in Glasgow has almost disappeared. Our challenge now is to make it a priority that these people are not forgotten about and that their right to a safe place to live is not ignored.

We all know the way we treat the most vulnerable amongst us says something about who we are as a society and the creation of this Hub says we want homelessness in our city to be a thing of the past. The Access Hub is an important step forward in making that a reality.

So, thank you to everyone who has worked to get us here today and thank you all for coming. This is a place we should all be very proud to have in our city.”

Lorraine MacIntosh and Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue inside the Access Hub

Under One Roof: Working together to make things easier for people

Our brand new multi-agency Access Hub has opened its doors in Glasgow city centre. People can drop in to get help with benefits, health, finances, legal advice, access to the digital world and more.

This innovative new service is being delivered in collaboration with over 20 partners – each committed to helping to make it much easier for people to get the support they need.

Frances McKinlay, chief officer, Marie Trust and her colleague, Lynn Rae, enjoying one of the new chat spaces in the Access Hub.
Frances McKinlay, chief officer, Marie Trust and her colleague, Lynn Rae, enjoying one of the new chat spaces in the Access Hub.

The beautiful interior has been carefully designed to engender a sense of calm and welcome. It has many different private and semi-private spaces so people can meet with different agencies all in the one space. All aspects of the design was based on extensive engagement on what people wanted and what the city needed to improve responses for people in crisis. We also have a state of the art training room, a clinical treatment room and a mulit-functional space for arts activities and the pet clinic. 

It’s great to be able to drop in to chat about something small or to discuss more serious stuff like help with benefits, sexual health clinic and also Trusty Paws [monthly vet clinic]. My dog, Jinty, is a regular visitor!”
– Joanne, service user
The new Access Hub with bright colours, beautiful wooden finishings and different zones for conversation and support.
The new Access Hub with bright colours, beautiful wooden finishings and different zones for conversation and support.

Joining the dots

In addition to our regular support providing information, advice and support to people, we continue to link them to other relevant services. This is now so much easier as many of the agencies we link people to will have regular drop-ins and clinics operating from the Hub, meaning people only have to go to one place to access many different forms of help and care. There is also a place for staff from across the agencies to take a sharing a coffee, exchanging practice and building stronger relationships as they do.

The Access Hub will not only be a place to access a wide range of health and other interventions, but offers a more holistic approach in supporting people in immediate and longer term need. It will also be a place of learning for homeless and at risk people.”
– Frances McKinlay, Chief Officer, Marie Trust 

Partners working with us to deliver this enhanced support, include: 

  • JobCentre Plus (DWP) – supporting people to navigate the benefit systems and resolve any benefit-related issues
  • Phoenix Project – a partnership between Simon Community Scotland and the NHS pharmacists – ensuring people have the prescriptions and treatment they need, and linking into other NHS services as needed
  • An NHS Podiatrist – providing a regular clinic to help take care of people’s feet
  • Marie Trust – delivering a counselling service and providing personal development training including accredited and non-accredited learning to widen access to further education where traditional entry routes pose barriers
  • Shelter Scotland and Govan Law Centre – providing support, including legal advice for anyone who is having difficulty accessing housing
  • Waverley Care and Brownlee Centre – providing care and support to people living with HIV and other medical conditions
  • Nemo Arts – providing creative workshops that have a focus on mental wellbeing and reducing social isolation through the arts
  • Trusty Paws – providing free clinics and advice for dog owners sleeping rough or struggling with homelessness
Isabel McHue, founder of Nemo Arts in the new Access Hub
Isabel McHue, founder of Nemo Arts in the new Access Hub

There is nothing else like it in Scotland for the people we support

The Access Hub brings a different model of service in a unique space and environment. It allows us to work in partnership with other agencies in new and creative ways. By taking this approach we can minimise any barriers or ‘going around the houses’ – with partners working together and alongside the people we support, to find solutions . 

This model demonstrates the extent of creativity and determination from key partners ensuring services are quickly accessible and responsive to those in most need.”
– Pat Togher, Assistant Chief Officer, Public Protection and Complex Needs, Glasgow City HSCP
Entrance to The Access Hub in Glasgow

Innovation in Glasgow

The venture would not have been possible without the support and dedication of our development partners. Building on our experience working together as part of the City Ambition Network (CAN) in Glasgow, these agencies recognise how important it is to ensure staff from different organisations can work more closely together in providing people with the best possible support. The CAN partnership consists of:

We are enormously proud of this venture, and so grateful for all the partners already involved helping to bring this dream to life! 

If you would like to get involved, please get in touch!

Our training room and a confidential space for counselling and other services.
Our training room and a confidential space for counselling and other services.

Design at heart of well-being ethos of new advice and support centre for homeless people

THE calm efficiency and first-class service that guests of a modern, boutique hotel might reasonably expect is to be provided in a brand-new multi-agency advice and support hub for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

GROUNDBREAKING NEW SERVICE

Fitted out in cool colours, contemporary furniture and designer lighting, the Access Hub – in Glasgow’s Argyle Street – is expected to be hailed as mould-breaking in the provision of services to people who – often through no fault of their own – are seeking help.

Officially opened earlier today by leading homelessness charity, Simon Community Scotland, The Access Hub has been imagined to ensure that users feel their welfare is paramount and to make it much easier for people to get support.

PEOPLE AT THE HEART

On entering the city centre building, they will be met by a person rather than a reception desk.

The brief to architecture practice, INCH Architecture + Design, and interior designers, 3 Design Scotland, was to make visitors feel special. 

The hub has been designed so that staff from partner agencies will be able to meet clients, ‘hot desk’ and share ideas and practice with fellow support workers.

A calm and healing space at the Access Hub

MAKING THINGS EASIER 

People using the hub will be able to access a wide range of support all ‘under one roof’ from expert providers. These include financial and legal support and advice, counselling and digital support as well as health and well-being services. 

This groundbreaking initiative is expected to radically reshape the experience and impact for people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness in Glasgow.

WORKING TOGETHER 

The hub has been set up in partnership with Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, Glasgow City Mission, Marie Trust and Turning Point Scotland. Along with Simon Community Scotland, each are members of City Ambition Network, formed in 2015 to aid Glasgow’s most vulnerable and excluded homeless people.

The opening was attended by Simon Community Scotland supporters, Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross – of the band, Deacon Blue.

Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross of the band, Deacon Blue, at the opening of the Access Hub
Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross of the band, Deacon Blue, at the opening of the Access Hub

Funding has been provided by the Robertson Trust, plus Glasgow City Mission, Bank of Scotland Foundation, Glasgow City HSCP, the Clothworkers Foundation and the Landfill Trust, along with Simon Community Scotland’s own reserves.

WHY THIS MATTERS SO MUCH

Quote from Lorraine McGrath, Chief Executive of Simon Community Scotland

Begins Simon Community Scotland chief executive, Lorraine McGrath: “Getting support should feel as good as possible – especially if you’re having a really hard time. 

“We have launched a beautifully-designed and welcoming space and service – so important for people who are facing extremely difficult circumstances. We wanted a space and service that feels good, calm and can even contribute towards healing.

A corner of our new Access Hub

“Getting support should be as easy as possible, especially if your confidence has been knocked, you’re dealing with multiple pressures and you may be in poor mental or physical health.“We’re launching what we believe to be a different model of service, as a blueprint for the country.

“By coming together, ‘under the one roof’, many of the barriers to accessing critical services are removed and we are delighted to have the support of close to 20 organisations to make this groundbreaking project a success. The last thing anyone requiring support should have to do is negotiate various bureaucracies. The hub also doubles up as a great way for partners to learn from each other and work more efficiently in providing solutions for even the most challenging of circumstances.”

Quote from Ashley Young, Service Lead of the Access Hub

Her sentiments were echoed by Ashley Young, service lead for The Access Hub. She said: “Everyone deserves to be in spaces that feel good – places that promote healing and well-being.

“The people we support are having some of the toughest days of their lives – we want to make it really easy to get support. It’s really important that the environment and interactions with staff feel good. 

“Following numerous COVID-related delays, we’re so excited to be finally opening the doors and are looking forward to seeing how this service grows and develops.”

A GREAT SPACE FOR CHATS AND GETTING SUPPORT

Quote from Joanne, long-time service user

Long-time service user, Joanne (40), said: “There are lots of different issues I’ve faced while homeless. The Simon Community is one of the main services that worked for me, so to hear of the new premises is fantastic! 

“The Access Hub has so much space for so many activities and lots of quiet, wee spots for the wee chats that really help people like myself. 

“It’s great to be able to drop in to chat about something small or to discuss more serious stuff like help with benefits, sexual health clinic and also Trusty Paws [monthly vet clinic]. My dog, Jinty, is a regular visitor! I’m really looking forward to using the new Access Hub in Argyle Street.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN GLASGOW

Speaking about the innovative approach to partnership working, Pat Togher, assistant chief officer, Public Protection and Complex Needs, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “This model demonstrates the extent of creativity and determination from key partners, ensuring services are quickly accessible and responsive to those in most need.”

Frances McKinlay, chief officer, Marie Trust, added: “The Access Hub will not only be a place to access a wide range of health and other interventions – but will also offer a more holistic approach in supporting people in immediate and longer-term need. Together, in partnership, we are stronger in alleviating homelessness and enabling opportunities for self-growth and routes out of homelessness.”

Entrance to our new Access Hub

THOUGHTFUL, CREATIVE DESIGN

Says Suzy Kingswood, from 3 Design Scotland: “To help create that welcoming feel, to ensure that the centre was a place of comfort and inclusion, we focused on high quality and creative wall finishes and beautiful furniture. We chose a palette of colours that read cohesively across the space; nothing too ‘out there’ but definitely something slightly out of the ordinary and unexpected.

She added: “We also chose artwork that will hopefully bring a smile, as well as generate a sense of calm, plus restrained flooring patterns – to break up the zones within the space without the need for physical barriers.”

CELEBRATING THE OPENING WITH DEACON BLUE

Lorraine McIntosh added: “Glasgow has always been a city with a huge heart and reaches out to support people in crisis. We’re delighted to be supporting Simon Community Scotland in creating this amazing space providing an unified response to the challenges people face with homelessness.”

Our Street Team in Edinburgh

Vote for Us!

We hope you’re as delighted as we are to hear that Simon Community Scotland have been shortlisted in this year’s Scottish Charity Awards. 

This year has been a remarkable year for our charity with many changes and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With your support we have been able to help so many people affected by homelessness to transform their lives. 

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Two of our staff providing support to people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simon Community Scotland shortlisted for hat-trick of Charity Awards

Simon Community Scotland, the largest provider of homeless services in Scotland, has scooped a trio of shortlistings at the Scottish Charity Awards. 

The annual awards are organised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and celebrate the best of Scotland’s voluntary sector. Simon Community Scotland have been recognised as a finalist in three categories – Charity of the Year, Demonstrating Digital and the People’s Choice Award.  

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