As Scotland pushes ahead building affordable housing at twice the UK rate, rough sleepers in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the central belt are to be allocated 475 homes. See:
Scottish Government increases supply of affordable housing and builds at more, perhaps much more, than twice the rate as in England
Saturday’s Sleep in the Park with entertainment by Liam Gallagher and Deacon Blue had 8 000 people sleeping or attempting to, in Princes Street Garden, in sub-zero conditions. The money will be used to help families and individuals stay in their homes or find homes.
At the same time, Edinburgh’s EdIndex Partnership will help to make 275 homes available to homeless people and in Glasgow, the Wheatley Group has committed 200 homes for rough sleepers.
With the Scottish government’s strong commitment to ending homelessness and Housing First pilot schemes well underway, the situation is beginning to look promising. See these for more detail:
Could Scotland end homelessness?
Homelessness falls in Scotland as it rises in England, mainly driven by heartless Tory welfare reforms
Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite, was particularly inspiring in saying:
‘Tonight, was the night when people from all walks of life came together in Scotland, to stick up for the most vulnerable people among us. This is the night that we collectively gave a voice to the people who have never had one. There are 11,000 homeless households in Scotland. When I think about all of the amazing different people, sleeping in this garden tonight, the one thing that strikes me about these statistics of homelessness is that they are not insurmountable. Scotland is a small enough country, a compassionate enough country and a collaborative enough country, where nobody has to be homeless here. If we put our heads together, we can wipe out homelessness in five years.’
I hope, I’m not overdoing this but, once more, do we see something a little different in the core values of our political leadership and in the majority of the people who live in Scotland? See:
SNP moves to finally put an end to foxes’agony being ripped apart by hounds as the English Tories plan a return to the unspeakable business. Different again?
8% of the UK population and 28% of living wage employers. More evidence that we are different enough to want to run the whole show?
Racial hate crimes increase by 33% in England & Wales while falling by 10% in Scotland: Who says we’re not different?
Scientific evidence that Scots tend to be different from the other groups in rUK?
The event in Edinburgh was one about which I had been very sceptical, especially with the ‘celebrity’ aspect. However, the size of the turnout was far in excess of anything I had that I estimated was an ‘optimistic’ turnout and the amount of money raised was, frankly, astounding. I am delighted that my shameful cynicism and scepticism have been confounded.
So, credit to the many who slept out in what was a dreadfully cold night and, in particular to the organisers.
If this kind of support can be turned to political effect and move those as doubtful as I was then perhaps we can get a genuine political movement for social change. We need to get as many homeless people off the streets as soon as possible and for the duration of the winter, using the monies raised, offers of accommodation from individuals and providing social housing. However, we must begin to set out and campaign for the kind of anti-austerity, redistributive, social rights policies which will change the ‘neoliberal’ economic hegemony more decisively. This is the kind of thing where Labour must act collaboratively with SNP and Greens to build a strong consensus. They need to stop their oppositionist bile towards the SNP, and be constructive and realistic and not seek to points-score: no blaming, no making unrealistic demands about powers which are not available to the SG. Of course, there are those within the SNP and Greens who are capable of such ping-pong, too.
Literally, lives are at stake.
Whether one believes in independence or not we can work ‘as if we are in the early days of a better nation’.
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Like many other things the quote attributed to Henry Ford saying ” Whether you think you can do it or whether you think you can’t you are right ” applies to homelessness in Scotland and I believe that if a strong enough political will exists to end homelessness it can be done.
Ending homelessness is starting to rebuild a just society from the very bottom and I like to believe that if everyone in society feels wanted and cared for we should have a successful country. There’s an old saying that hopes spring is eternal but it must be at a low ebb at the moment in many places and grinding people down into deeper despair and poverty is not an answer to anything.
Like you Alasdair I am heartened to see so much support shown in Edinburgh at the weekend so let’s hope it grows into an integral belief in Scotland that no one should be homeless.
Yes, a good feeling. Let’s hope it’s delivered.