Housing First in Edinburgh

Housing First – a simple statement that seems almost too obvious to be a solution for people who are experiencing homelessness. In the recent past, however, for some people with multiple complex needs, they were often required to demonstrate they were “ready” for housing – by abstaining from alcohol or drugs for instance – before being “awarded” a tenancy. 

Housing First challenges this approach – a home is not a reward, it is a right.

In first establishing a stable foundation in settled accommodation, individuals with multiple complex needs – problem substance use, trauma, mental health challenges – can then be assisted in accessing the support they need from a place of security – their home. 

And that is where Streetwork at Simon Community Scotland come in. Having been part of a consortium delivering Housing First support in Edinburgh since 2018, we’re now expanding our service from 1st October in conjunction with our partners Bethany Christian Trust, Hillcrest Futures and Turning Point Scotland. 

Our team work with people for as long as they are needed; bringing empathy and understanding, advocacy and assistance, and opportunities for community connection to those who may have faced multiple barriers throughout their lives. Our approach is tailored to the needs of each person we support; flexing and developing as they do, though always trauma informed with a harm reduction mindset.

One of our Support Workers describes Housing First as “we stay by you, no matter how bad things might get“, with this focus on strong relationships resulting in real success: 

A client who was previously considered “unaccommodatable” due to a range of complex support needs is now approaching his first year in a tenancy – his first in 23 years!

We’re excited to be continuing our Housing First journey in Edinburgh; research has shown that this approach results in improved outcomes for people with higher tenancy sustainment, improved health outcomes and fewer interactions with the criminal justice system. 

We’re always looking for people who share our vision and values to join our team. If this sounds like you, please check out: https://www.simonscotland.org/join-us/join-our-staff-team/

Written by Lesley Henderson