Simon Community Blog – Tackling Homelessness
Tue 17th April 2018
Tricia Imrie, Assistant Director for Development at the Simon Community Scotland, has written a special blog for the Foundation to keep supporters up to date with the progress, and ethos, of the projects we have supported over the last two seasons.
Nighstop is now fully operational for young people at risk of sleeping rough and Street Cycles is making significant inroads into contacting and supporting rough sleepers out with the city centre. Read on to hear more about the huge difference these projects are making in our city.
Simon Community Scotland is the largest provider of homelessness services in Scotland, with a reputation for excellence. Our vision is that everyone should have a safe place to live and access to the support they need.
Everything we do is about and for people: the people we support, our staff, our partners and everyone affected by homelessness. Our values are built into every area of activity and tell the story of how people remain at the heart of the Simon Community.
We have huge ambitions for the future and plan to extend our reach further to those who need us most through embedding volunteering within all of our services. Rangers Charity Foundation, through their funding of two of our new and pioneering services in Glasgow, have allowed us to really harness the passion, goodwill and skill of the general public who wish to volunteer with us across the city and play an active role in our mission.
Those new services are Nightstop Glasgow, our first youth homelessness prevention service, which is designed to catch that first time homeless person from spending the night sleeping rough on the streets, and Street Cycles, which is the UK’s first street outreach service on bicycles.
The concept of ‘Nightstop’ is preventing youth homelessness through community hosting, where people in our community offer up a spare room in their home to a young person aged 16-25 years for at least one night.
We understand that anyone wanting to take on a volunteer host’s role will not make this decision lightly and that the decision will have involved many discussions with family and friends. To increase exposures to the Nightstop concept, we have arranged social nights and Information Sessions which have been very successful but also exposure from the Foundation has been important, reaching out to an audience of people in our communities who want to make a difference in young people’s lives.
The Initiative was launched in January 2018 with 4 host households and we are working with 3 more willing and inspirational households who join this team of hosts, in addition to volunteer driver chaperones who will support the young person to arrive safely at their destination.
Our Street Team is an essential part of our RSVP (Rough Sleepers and Vulnerable People) Service, providing presence on the street and support to people 365 days a year. Through our new Street Cycles initiative we are able to extend, strengthen and support the existing work they do.
This project is a response to the emerging begging, and subsequent rough sleeping, in the South and West of the city. People here are often the most deeply excluded from homeless services, and are more likely to be women who are attempting to seek ‘safer’ places to sleep.
Our ability to cover these areas was inhibited by geography and staff resources. Since the introduction of Street Cycles we are now able to travel greater distances and respond more rapidly to those in need.
Our Street Cycles team travel in pairs on specially equipped bicycles, capable of carrying large quantities of life changing items, including food, clothing, first aid, sanitary products, needle exchange kits and sleeping bags.
They undertake a mapping exercise where they seek out ‘skipper’ sites with a view to engaging and supporting people they find. By mapping the city and offering basic supplies, our Street Cycles team can make vital connections with people. This helps us build contact and trust with those we support.
More experienced and trained staff are then able to follow up with individuals and support people off the streets.
The injection of funding for both of these services has meant that we have been able to adapt to meet the needs of people either at risk of homelessness or who are currently homeless. Both services are volunteer led and the Rangers Charity Foundation’s support has meant that we have been able to recruit, vet, train and support volunteers to really make an impact to the lives of the most vulnerable people in our city.
We are extremely grateful to the Rangers Charity Foundation and fans for their generosity and very much look forward to working with them to increase awareness for both services so that everyone with a desire to make a difference or who needs these services can know how to access them.