Heriot-Watt study outlines homelessness action plan



A study by Heriot-Watt University has outlined a number of actions to help homeless people in Scotland.

The report was commissioned by Social Bite who are currently organising Sleep in the Park, which will be held in Edinburgh on December 9, and has a fundraising target of £4m.

Now, researchers from the University have recommended support for the ‘housing first’ model.

This offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

The study reveals the model could help 470 people a year, with accommodation and support services, to avoid returning to homelessness.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, of the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research said: "The study demonstrates that these more extreme forms of homelessness are still a substantial problem in our main urban centres, but also that it is possible for collaborative efforts to seriously drive down this persistent and distressing social problem.

"It is hoped that the evidence provided in the report, together with the profile and fundraising activities of Social Bite, can help to shape public debate in a progressive direction that makes positive policy responses more likely."

The Sleep in the Park will take place in West Princes Street Gardens and will feature exclusive busking sets from Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit. CYBG, owners of Clydesdale Bank, have become the main fundraiser for the event, with staff aiming to raise £500,000.

Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, said: "The study gives us a very clear roadmap of how homelessness could be brought right down and the issue could be solved.

"The statistics are certainly not so big that it is beyond our combined with as a nation to end homelessness in Scotland.

"One of the most important areas this report tells us really needs our collective focus is on a significant 'housing first' solution to homelessness.

"Housing first basically means rather than making homeless people live through years of expensive temporary accommodations and rough sleeping, we provide access to a mainstream tenancy straight away and invest in a well-resourced support structure to support them in that tenancy.”