Category Archives: News

News from Simon Community Scotland

Period Friendly Points – Dignity as standard

On the 23rd of August Simon Community Scotland launched a new program designed to make sanitary products freely available, easily accessible and support to homeless women having their period; Period Friendly Points. The program supported by the Big Lottery is designed to address the very real challenges homeless women experience in managing their periods.
The initiative starts with Period Friendly Points in Glasgow and Edinburgh and an expectation that by Christmas 2017 there will be over 20 Period Friendly Points across the country.
In addition to identified places for women to access support Street Teams in Edinburgh and Glasgow will be carrying a 72 hour period pack for women on the street including sanitary products, pants, wipes and disposal bags.
Our ambition is to make this aspect of life a little easier and support homeless women to have a period of dignity.  Read more…

Volunteering

Volunteer With Us

Our volunteer team welcomes people with a wide range of skills and experiences – including those who have lived through homelessness. If you like what we do, we’d love you to join us!

How people end up homeless is many and various. And just as the story of each and every homeless person in Scotland will be different, so everyone in Scotland can be part of the solution.

Our roots are in volunteering. Combatting homelessness involves all of us – as a community.

There are a number of different range of ways people can volunteer with us. We are currently looking to fill these roles

  • Warehouse Volunteer  (Glasgow)
  • Simon Store Volunteer (Glasgow)
  • Street Cycles Volunteer (Glasgow)
  • Period Friendly Pals (Glasgow and Edinburgh)
  • Nightstop Volunteer Host (Glasgow)

Click here for more information.

 

Nightstop in Glasgow

NIGHTSTOP IN GLASGOW

We’re  delighted to be working in partnership with Depaul UK to launch Nightstop in Glasgow – a really important service for young people in distress who are at risk of homelessness. We’re putting a call out for volunteer hosts.

The reasons why young people end up homeless are varied. Most commonly, it’s a breakdown in the relationship at home and sometimes a cooling-off period allows staff to support the family to reconnect and talk through their issues. Sometimes, the young person is escaping violence or abuse, or is facing issues concerning their sexuality.

Through Nightstop, young people facing the prospect of sleeping rough on the streets can be provided an emergency bed for the night – in a volunteer’s home rather than in a homelessness hostel. The Nightstop concept has been hugely successful in other parts of the country and we’re excited about the opportunity to deliver a safe, compassionate and homely alternative to potentially risky options elsewhere.

We are putting out a call for the people of Glasgow to join the Nightstop network, by offering up any spare rooms they have in their homes and becoming a Nightstop host.Potential hosts undertake an application process as well as training and a vetting exercise; and will receive ongoing support from Simon Community staff.

There’s more information about Nightstop in our news release.

You can help by applying to become a host as well as by promoting this programme in your networks.

To register your interest or learn more about this initiative, please contact Pauline Hannigan at pauline.hannigan@simonscotland.org

This will allow us to invite you to an information evening to meet us, hear about Nightstop and ask questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

The Scottish Women’s Awards 2017- Finalist

Challenging the causes and effects of homelessness, that’s not only the mission of the Simon Community but the personal driver for Lorraine McGrath, Chief Executive of Scotland’s largest charity dedicated to supporting people at risk of and experiencing homelessness. The charity has been delivering care and support on the streets for over 50 years and now reaches over 3000 people a year.

It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the Simon Community. In 2011 the organisation almost closed its doors. Lorraine stepped in as Chief Executive with a passion and a commitment she knew was inherent in the staff, volunteers and service users who made the Simon Community and with this energy took to turning the ship around.

Lorraine took the opportunity to re-evaluate the charity and began a process of modernisation whilst retro-fitting the organisation back to it’s core values. The result has been an organisation that has embedded quality improvement into its core achieving Committed to Excellence last year, substantially grown the organisation to become Scotland’s largest specialist provider of support to people experiencing homelessness, built a solid financial platform bringing security and stability and has built a reputation as an innovative can-do organisation.

Today the Simon Community are going from strength to strength driven by passion and compassion at every point of the organisation. The charity continues to innovate and find solutions most recently with Lorraine launching Period Friendly Points, an initiative designed to address the challenges homeless women experience when having their period and in September Street Cycles will launch. A team of cyclists working with the Glasgow Street Team to reach rough sleepers and vulnerable people around the City, the first of its kind in the UK.

Lorraine views this nomination as a recognition of the efforts and work of the team at Simon Community. Lorraine said of the nomination ‘I’m delighted to have been nominated for Services to Charity/Third Sector category. I’m immensely proud of the work that our staff do and I feel privileged to lead an organisation that genuinely changes lives.’

 

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 0800 027 7466

 

There is more information available here:

Media Release: Confidence building cycling course for Simon Community Scotland

Media Release 15th June 2017

 

People supported by Glasgow-based homeless charity, Simon Community Scotland, were given a skills and confidence boost by taking part in an Essential Cycling Skills course from Cycling Scotland today.

Ten people who receive support from Simon Community Scotland took part in the course at the Charity’s Ballater Street centre in Glasgow.

Many of those taking part in the Essential Cycling Skills course will go on to take part in Pedal for Scotland’s 45 mile Classic Challenge from Glasgow to Edinburgh on 10th September 2017.

William Wright from Cycling Scotland, said, “The Essential Cycling Skills course is for adults who are new to cycling, or who haven’t ridden a bike for a long time. As well as covering many of the technical and safety aspects of riding a bike, the course also serves to boost confidence and self-esteem of those who take part – something that can benefit everyone across many areas of life. Going on to take part in Pedal for Scotland is a great achievement for anyone, and we’re delighted Simon Community Scotland have entered a team to take part in the Classic Gold Challenge on 10 September.”

Hugh Hill, Director of Services and Development at Simon Community Scotland, said, “There’s nothing good about being homeless. It’s particularly bad for your physical and mental health and has an average life expectancy of almost half that of the general population. Cycling on the other hand is proven to improve your health and your wellbeing which is why at Simon Community Scotland we’ve been promoting cycling within the homeless community and with our staff.  It’s good for your health, your happiness, your purse and the environment! What’s not to like?”

Entry for Pedal for Scotland on 10th September is now open. An adult place on the Classic Challenge is £28 (£19 concession), while the Big Belter is priced at £48 per adult. Enter online at www.pedalforscotland.org.
– ENDS –

 For further information please contact:

William Wright, Cycling Scotland

0141 229 5350 / 07795 048042

williamwright@cycling.scot

NOTES TO EDITORS:

 Pedal for Scotland

  1. Pedal for Scotland is organised by Cycling Scotland, the lead organisation for cycling promotion in Scotland. Cycling Scotland is the national cycle training, promotion, events and engineering organisation for Scotland. With grant funding from Transport Scotland we are working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option.

www.cycling.scot.

Cycling Scotland is a recognised Scottish Charity no. SC 029760

  1. Transport Scotland is the national transport agency for Scotland, delivering the Scottish Government’s vision for transport.

www.transport.gov.scot

  1. Pedal for Scotland was established in 1999 as a way to encourage more people to cycle. Cycling 50 miles in a day demonstrates the considerable distances it is possible to achieve by bike, and encourages people to leave the car at home for short journeys.
  2. Pedal for Scotland event is delivered in partnership with eight local authorities and support services such as Police Scotland, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and the St Andrews Ambulance Association.

pedalforscotland.org/

Simon Community Scotland
Founded in 1966, Simon Community Scotland is a charity that works to combat the causes and effects of homelessness. Its vision is that everyone should have a safe place to live and access to the support they need.

It operates a ‘street team’ from premises near Glasgow’s High Street. It also provides accommodation, including emergency accommodation in 12 locations across Glasgow, in North Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire.

Its ‘street team’ sees around 150 people on the streets of Glasgow every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

It is estimated that people who are long-term rough sleeping have a life expectancy of 47 (age 43 specifically for women). 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.

Simon Community Scotland has entered a team in the Pedal for Scotland event. Anyone can join “Team Simon Community” when booking their place to enter this event.

Visit www.simonscotland.org @SimonCommScot

Telephone: 0141 418 6980. Its street team can be contacted on freephone: 0800 027 7466.

STV Children’s Appeal

STV Children’s Appeal is the official charity partner of Pedal for Scotland. The STV Children’s Appeal is committed to helping children and young people affected by poverty in Scotland. The money raised by the STV Children’s Appeal helps make a real difference in the lives of Scotland’s children and young people by providing practical help like food and warm clothes; creating opportunities for training and employability; and enabling social and emotional support for those who need it most.

In its first six years the Appeal has raised over £13.7 million. This has allowed us to make 722 big and small awards to projects across all 32 local authority areas in Scotland, providing much needed support to over 62,000 children.

The charity was launched in 2011 by The Hunter Foundation and STV.  In 2013, The Wood Foundation pledged its support to the Appeal for projects in the North East.

Every single penny raised by the STV Children’s Appeal stays in Scotland and 100% of donations are spent on the children who need it most, as all overheads are met by STV and The Hunter Foundation. In 2015, the Scottish Government once again committed to match fund the first £1m raised.

www.stv.tv/appeal/

STV Appeal SCIO SC042429

Funding boost helps secure successful approach towards eradicating homelessness in Glasgow

AN already successful approach towards eradicating rough sleeping on the streets of Glasgow has been awarded a grant of over £400,000 to help maintain its work.

The City Ambition Network (CAN) – a partnership involving key, city centre homelessness charities and statutory services – has received £430,000 to expand an existing project with its next target being to reach 70 of Glasgow’s most vulnerable people.

The initiative recognises that many rough sleepers will often remain on the streets even when shelter is available.

Therefore, it provides not just access to immediate accommodation, but also support, care and health responses with the aim of putting the homelessness person more in control of their future.

The funding has come from the USA-based philanthropy organisation, Oak Foundation.

CAN was set up two years ago, to work with people who were entrenched in a cycle of homelessness, substance use and mental health problems.

It operates as collaboration between Simon Community Scotland, Glasgow City Mission, The Marie Trust and the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership.

Says Lorraine McGrath, chief executive at Simon Community Scotland: “By working together across the city, staff from our different agencies are able to support people into safe and secure accommodation.

“Service users being supported by CAN tell us they have a really strong sense of being cared for in ways they have not experienced for a long time for many this has helped them break their in and out of rough sleeping.”

It is estimated that, each year, over 1,000 people sleep rough, for varying periods of time, on the streets of Glasgow.

Added Grant Campbell, chief executive, Glasgow City Mission: “The complexities behind the phenomenon that is rough sleeping are often overlooked. If it was an easy fix it would have happened by now.

“What the City Ambition Network has been able to achieve might appear small to the casual observer, but to those in the homelessness sector, the joined-up ‘never let go’ approach to individuals dealing with chaotic lifestyles has been powerful.”

Says Simon Community Scotland, the grant will provide much-needed new staff and a research team to help connect with Glasgow’s most vulnerable homeless who need a consistent and intensive approach.

One of the people CAN is currently working with is Karen. Her needs extend beyond simply a roof over her head.

Begins McGrath: “Karen had a traumatic upbringing which followed her into adulthood. Her life was chaotic and she often slept rough in Glasgow and placed herself in very dangerous situations.

“Key workers in the CAN worked closely with Karen, over six months, helping her into a home that she felt safe in.

“A home was just the start for Karen, getting treatment for her mental health, support with her alcohol use and maintaining her belief in herself took a lot of time and expertise.

“Karen has been in her home for five months, the longest period off the streets in ten years.

“Karen’s story is not unique. Many of the people we support have very real trauma in their lives. A roof over Karen’s head will help towards her find safety, but she also requires compassion, understanding and other forms of support.”

Adds McGrath: “Over the next three years, the grant from the Oak Foundation will be invested in helping people like Karen find peace of mind, safety, a secure place to live.

“We’re obviously delighted with the support from the Oak Foundation and excited about supporting our most vulnerable in society, to find a safe place to stay and the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

In Glasgow, the Simon Community Scotland ‘Street Team’ works with around 150 rough sleepers every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

Eric Steel, head of Homelessness at Glasgow City Council, said: “The CAN initiative is an innovative and inspiring approach to tackling the very real challenges people face and Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership is pleased to be working in partnership with the voluntary sector in improving outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens.”

McGrath continued: “Rough sleeping is bad for your physical and mental health, it’s unsafe, it’s risky and it’s scary. The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 47, almost half that of the rest of the population.”

For more information on the City Ambition Network, visit www.simonscotland.org.

Doing More Together: Bringing Real Change for Folk Across the City

The City Ambition Network or CAN was formed two years ago by the Marie Trust, Glasgow City Mission and ourselves. We had a simple belief that by working together we could work better and service users would be the beneficiaries of that.

Helping the most vulnerable

We share a common vision, that no one in Glasgow should ever need to sleep rough and behind that is a desire to put people at the heart of our services. That means constantly finding new ways of working with people who really struggle to accept the help that is on offer and  just can’t meet the expectations of services in Glasgow. Once we came together it wasn’t long before the Health and Social Care Partnership – Glasgow City Council, and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde – jumped on board opening  new doors to resources, systems and networks that were critical to offer the right kind of help for these extremely vulnerable people.

Getting Practical

With some seed funding from the Robertson Trust we were able to employ a Coordinator to translate our lofty visions into something infinitely more realistic and practical. From there we began a process of identifying those people who were known to services, where we were most often simply reacting to their chaos and crisis, not resolving it.

Real solutions, not just responding to crisis

Many of the people we were talking about circulated between prison, hospital, rough sleeping and emergency accommodation, and had been doing so for years. Staff and services were spending huge amounts of time and resources reacting to this chaos but it inevitably would be back. This was not a solutions focussed approach; this was crisis management.

Working as a team to stick by people

From a cohort of 70 , 12 people were prioritised. The approach was simple: we’d stick with people no matter what, we’d work as a team – from different organisations – to support each other and find solutions, we’d build and use networks to connect people with the resources they needed and we’d provide enough staff to have the right intensity of response that each individual person needed. The interagency operational team are given support and authority from our organisations to find solutions, push the boundaries and do things that work for people.

Good things

It has been fantastic to see the compassion, determination and resolve of the CAN Key Workers. Importantly, service users have a really strong sense of being cared about in ways they haven’t experienced for a long time. No service, professional or resource boundaries get in the way of making things happen for someone.

The impact has been stunning, both for service users and staff involved in the team. Some of the people supported have tested the resolve of staff and true to their ambition they have stuck with them, pretty much no matter what. There remains a level of chaos but on engagement, health status, accommodation, incidents and risks the measures for the people themselves have significantly improved. Critically a drastic reduction in the nights they slept rough!

The future

For us this is still early days. The people supported by CAN have many many years of homelessness, substance misuse and trauma. For some it may take as many years again to enable them to find real hope and to see and experience a safe, secure and happy life.

CAN continues to evolve. Its shape and function is driven by the wide, diverse and complex needs of the people with whom we’re engaging.

More funding: Helping more folk

In 2017 we’re taking the CAN up a gear with more staff being dedicated to the approach.   A three year grant from Oak Foundation means we can expand and evidence the work of the team. By the end of 2017 we’re hoping to be supporting 50 service users and applying a Housing First approach to the team.

The vision and ambition remain the same but our journey is unpredictable, eventful and exciting.

For more information on the organisations delivering the CAN visit:

www.simonscotland.org

www.glasgowcitymission.com

www.themarietrust.org

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=17283

http://www.nhsggc.org.uk/services/homeless-services/

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.