An Action Plan for Homelessness: Briefing and reception with Social Bite and Heriot-Watt University

Tuesday 30 January, at the Scottish Parliament

Homelessness remains a significant challenge in Scotland. As noted in a recent Holyrood Magazine article "Out in the cold", 28,000 households were made homeless in Scotland in 2017. This means a Scottish household becomes homeless every 19 minutes, while more than 6,000 children woke up without a permanent place to call home at Christmas.

Edinburgh-based social enterprise Social Bite believes that the statistics in Scotland are not insurmountable. As it announced the 500 Homes Campaign, a Housing First programme to tackle homelessness in Scotland, co-founder Josh Littlejohn spoke at a Futures Forum event about the organisation's work, including the hugely successful Sleep in the Park, and what it calls the UK's largest ever Housing First programme. 

Social Bite // Sleep in the Park 2017 from Heehaw on Vimeo.

Josh gave details of the significant pledges to housing for homeless people in Scotland that Social Bite has secured already. So far Edinex and others have offered 290 properties in Edinburgh, while the Wheatley Group has offered 200 properties in Glasgow. Social Bite's target is to bring 500 people off the streets and out of homelessness, into a proper home with fully funded support, within 18 months. The homes will start to be released in April at a pace of roughly 27 homes per month over the course of 18 months.

Professor Sarah Johnsen from Heriot-Watt University ran through the academic research produced on Housing First initiative throughout the world, noting that there is more evidence for Housing First than any other homelessness intervention. Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, provided an update on the work of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which will report later this year. Kevin Stewart MSP, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, also spoke, stating that, while much progress had been made, now is the time to do more.

The event was chaired by the Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP as chair of the Futures Forum Board of Directors, with a final contribution from Sir Andrew Cubie, also a director of the Futures Forum, who will chair the 500 Homes Programme Board.

A full event report will be produced shortly.

Background reading

"Eradicating 'Core Homelessness' in Scotland's Four Largest Cities: Providing an Evidence Base and Guiding a Funding Framework", A Report to Social Bite by Mandy Littlewood, Glen Bramley, Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Jenny Wood, I-SPHERE, Heriot-Watt University 

"Out in the cold: homelessness"Holyrood Magazine, 29 December 2017.