1. Streetwork, our Charity of the Year 2018/2019, tell us about the support they offer to those who don’t have a safe place to sleep.

  2. Last year, a household was made homeless in Scotland every 18 minutes. There were 34,972 homelessness applications recorded and 10,933 households living in temporary accommodation. Add to that the fact that the number of homeless applications has increased for the first time in nine years, and you can see why there is a need for action and change.

    It’s this such change that Streetwork, Baillie Gifford’s Charity of the Year 2018/2019, has been working to bring about in Edinburgh for over 25 years. With the aim of enabling a life off the streets for those facing difficult circumstances, Streetwork provides expert support linking people to the services that they need. “We use a reach out, respond and resolve model. Our street team reach out to people on the streets or those who are at risk of homelessness. Those in difficulty are then referred to our Holyrood Hub, a drop-in centre where people can get further support with the hope of resolving their homelessness situation,” explains Emma Colgan, Crisis Team Leader at the Holyrood Hub, based on Holyrood Road in Edinburgh.

    “We offer support to anyone in Edinburgh who does not have a safe place to sleep,” says Emma. The Hub is open 365 days a year, for 15 hours a day and is supported by a 24-hour freephone helpline for immediate advice and support. “Each day up to 200 people come through the door; we often see the same people come in multiple times a day but there are no two days that are the same,” she says. “People who come to the hub are generally people who are sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation but we also have people who might be in a tenancy who need support in order to sustain their current arrangement.”

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    We want to make people aware of the homelessness problem while also demonstrating that there can be a happy ending.
  4. The primary goal of the service is to support people into housing, whether that be temporary accommodation or a more permanent arrangement.  “Although our end goal is to help resolve homelessness situations, often someone may be facing a myriad of problems. Therefore in most cases, we don’t only focus on housing – for example, people often want to get their money in order or increase their social network before they are in a position to tackle their lack of housing,” Emma explains.

    There isn’t a one size fits all solution and in order to work towards that end goal, the Hub offers a variety of practical and emotional support to service users. Amenities which may be taken for granted in ordinary day-to-day life including showers, computers, laundry facilities, storage space and a correspondence address are supplied. Staff also offer support in setting up and attending appointments, and they facilitate workshops for skill development. Additionally, partner organisations come into the Hub to provide services people may not otherwise have access to such as healthcare professionals, vets and a barber.

    Trust is key to any relationship, but as Emma explains, establishing this with people who use the service is not always straightforward, “The key to being able to help those who come through the door is being able to build a relationship. However, a lot of people have been let down in the past so they find it difficult to open up and instil that trust,” explains Emma. “All of our staff are trained in using psychologically informed environments. This means that they take into account the thinking, emotions, personalities and past experience people may have had in order to create an environment that can help promote positive relationships.” 

    It is when these challenges are overcome that Streetwork’s effort is compensated and for Emma, this is a highlight of her role, “When you can break down those barriers and have the conversations that allow you find out what is going on, that’s what can enable you to make a difference to people’s circumstances and that’s extremely rewarding.”

    As the charity looks towards the future, Streetwork is aiming to continue to improve the services that they offer, “We are looking to plan more activities in the Hub at night. In order to do this we are keen to build up our volunteering base,” says Emma. “We are also trying to raise our profile whether that be by using social media or encouraging fundraising activities. We want to make people aware of the homelessness problem while also demonstrating that there can be a happy ending.”