‘More of the same won’t do’: meet the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness
When sharing the Alliance’s aim to end homelessness in Glasgow by 2030, I’m often met with the same response: “Is that really possible?!”. My answer, of course, is a simple and confident ‘Yes’.
To some the ambition may seem unrealistic. The causes of homelessness are complex and as welcoming as our city is, unwelcome inequalities persist. In a city of approximately 650,000 people, a third of adults have a long-term illness or health condition, problematic drug use is almost double the national average (at 13,000 people), and more than 125,000 people are prescribed drugs for anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
People continue to face personal challenges, and at the same time, we ask them to navigate a complicated and disjointed system to access support. Whilst progress has been made, Glasgow City Council receives the largest number of homelessness applications in Scotland, consistently receiving over 5000 applications each year. That’s over 5000 households facing and trying to overcome personal barriers such as money troubles, domestic violence, addiction, ill-health and more. Each household has their own unique circumstances and needs. They might benefit from the hundreds of charities and services available to them, and be offered a suitable home by one of Glasgow’s 68 registered social landlords, but our support network has grown so big that it can seem impossible to navigate, and people can become lost in the system.
This is why the Alliance approach is so exciting. Recognising that ‘more of the same won’t do’, Glasgow City Council invited organisations to form an alliance in a bid to improve provision across the city, influence system changes, and deliver creative and innovative solutions to end homelessness. After one final competitive tender process, the successful Alliance partnership now has the delegated responsibility for all commissioned homelessness services in Glasgow. We recognise that for people facing the threat of or experiencing homelessness, the last thing they need is to navigate a complicated network of providers. Supporting people into the best possible accommodation for them as soon as possible, whilst providing continuity of support is one of our priorities. Readers can find out more about our six key objectives on our website.
So given the scale of the challenge, why am I so confident that we will end homelessness in Glasgow by 2030? Because we’re Glasgow! Glasgow has a proud history of coming together to tackle injustice. From before anti-apartheid activism (resulting in St George’s Place becoming Nelson Mandela Place – now home to Timothy Schmalz’s ‘Homeless Jesus’ statue), through to Drumchapel’s ‘Glasgow Girls’, and beyond. When Glasgow witnesses and understands an injustice, we come together and overcome it because it’s more than just a slogan. People really do Make Glasgow, and Glasgow really does make the best people.