By Olivia Armstrong
FOR many, December is a busy yet happy time in the inevitable lead-up to Christmas. But for others who don’t have a home to spend it in, it can be a miserable way to endure one of the coldest and most unforgiving times of the year.
Latest statistics in Scotland show a total of 27618 applications to local authorities due to homelessness and studies from 2015/16 show that 4% of applicants (1352 in total) slept rough before applying for assistance. Aberdeen City and Dundee City had the highest proportions (8% in both Local Authorities).
There are many reasons and situations in which someone can find themselves without stable accommodation. One of the main causes of homelessness applications is being asked to leave their previous living space, with the breakdown of relationships also cited as a key cause of leaving the home.
Living on the street is hard enough but it is even more so at Christmas. Lead housing charity Shelter has claimed that the number of children who are registered homeless or living in temporary accommodation will rise to its highest figure in eight years, with 5224 children in Scotland currently in temporary accommodation.
However, since it’s establishment, the charity has seen a huge rise in people willing to help and campaign. Shelter was set up in 1996 and 20 years on, more and more people have found themselves in need of their help. They help millions of people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness. Their latest campaign is outside the Scottish Parliament (December 6) to highlight the plight of homeless children at Christmas and to urge MSPs to sign up to their new campaign aimed at fixing the human tragedy of homelessness in Scotland.
Homelessness: Far From Fixed hits Holyrood on the same day the charity releases details of a rise in the number of people contacting it for help in the last year, saying that it helped more people last year than in any previous year.
The charity says more than 5,000 children will wake up homeless this Christmas in Scotland and around 30,000 households were made homeless last year, with over 10,000 forced to live in temporary accommodation. Shelter Scotland believes that Scotland’s current level of homelessness a national badge of shame for one of the world’s richest nations.
The campaign aims to urge politicians and members of the public to sign up to their demands of the the local and national government. The four main demands are:
- A safe and affordable home for everyone
- Help is available for everyone to keep or find a home
- A strong housing safety net to catch people if they do lose their home
- And, that no-one should ever have to sleep rough on Scotland’s streets
Adam Lang, Head of Policy and Communications at Shelter Scotland, said: “It’s shameful that each year there are thousands of people sleeping rough on our streets, that there are thousands more hidden homeless people sofa surfing with friends and that on Christmas morning this year more than 5,000 children in Scotland will wake up homeless in temporary accommodation.
“We are outside the Scottish Parliament today to highlight the plight of homeless children at Christmas and urge MSPs to sign up to our campaign aimed at finally fixing the human tragedy of homelessness. Frankly, we think it’s a disgrace that homelessness still exists in Scotland today. We are one of the richest nations in the world, yet nearly 30,000 households became homeless last year.”
With more emphasis placed on the importance of generosity and charity this holiday season, the work done by organisations such as Shelter and many other Scottish charities show an effort to ensure that no one should have to spend Christmas alone or on the streets.
People can support Shelter Scotland’s Christmas campaign by visiting shelterscotland.org or text SHELTER to 70123 and donate £3 to support their work to prevent homelessness.