Charities send open letter to Scottish Government - demanding urgent action on homelessness
Charities are calling for emergency action to be taken to end the “human tragedy” of homelessness which is once again stalking Scotland’s streets.
A range of civil society groups are demanding a radical new approach be taken by the Scottish Government to deal with the problem.
They were spurred into action following the tragic death of 28-year-old Matthew Bloomer, who was found dead in a shop doorway in Glasgow city centre last month.
The tragedy sparked a protest from a grassroots activist group, called Homelessness Shames Glasgow.
As reported in TFN, campaigners organised an emergency distribution of food and sleeping bags and pillows and staged a demo in the city centre.
They have also launched a petition, calling on Glasgow City Council to “fulfil its duty” to look after the vulnerable.
There has been a noticeable growth in the number of people sleeping rough in Glasgow, Edinburgh and elsewhere and Shelter Scotland has previously accused Holyrood of taking its eye off the ball over the problem, saying it is jeopardising its 2012 commitment to provide a home for everyone.
Now Shelter is the main driver behind calls for the creation of a new national homelessness strategy.
It has published an open letter to equalities secretary Angela Constance, which has been signed by a range of prominent charities.
It reads: “The human tragedy of homelessness was recently brought into sharp focus by the sad and widely reported death of a young man who had been sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow in recent days.
“This was not the first such story and it will not be the last. It is a badge of shame that homelessness still exists in our society.
“We are profoundly concerned by the current lack of political leadership and urgency in relation to tackling homelessness in Scotland today.
“We are calling for a new national homelessness strategy to tackle this complex problem head on. Without decisive action, we are endangering the lives of a growing number of people forced to sleep rough on the streets of our towns and cities and condemning many more individuals and families to a life in limbo, by forcing them to stay for increasing lengths of time in so called temporary accommodation.
“There is now a real danger of squandering the legacy of Scotland’s world-leading 2012 commitment on homelessness - which gave everyone the right to a settled home. Indeed, Scotland is already at risk of slipping behind the progress and innovative action being taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to tackle homelessness.”
It continues: “We believe that a new national focus on homelessness is a necessity for achieving the Scottish Government's ambitions of a fairer Scotland.
“Key public policy priorities such as closing the education attainment gap, improving health outcomes, eradicating child poverty and reducing re-offending are being undermined by the failure to grasp the significance of preventing and tackling homelessness.
“Our current challenges in this area are real and urgent. Now is the time for political leadership and action.
“A new national homelessness strategy, working across local and national government and other partners to tackle the root causes of homelessness, would allow the claim – that Scotland leads the world on homelessness – to be backed by evidence of real progress and real change. We look forward to your response.”