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Home  >  News  >  Rough Sleeping Plan Welcomed by Former Moderator


Rough Sleeping Plan Welcomed by Former Moderator

Wednesday March 7 2018

A former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has welcomed a Scottish Government decision to accept proposals to eradicate rough sleeping.

The measures include a national system of rapid rehousing, involving integrated support from frontline outreach services and local authorities. This will include moving to a ‘Housing First’ model for those with most complex needs – where people move straight into a permanent, settled home rather than temporary accommodation.

The Very Rev Dr Russell Barr, minister of Cramond Kirk in Edinburgh, is a member of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.

Dr Barr said: “I am delighted that the Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart, has accepted our proposals and provided funding to ensure the recommendations are put into action.

“This is an important first step on what I hope and pray will be a series of co-ordinated efforts to end the blight of homelessness in 21st century Scotland.

“Although it only represents the tip of the homelessness iceberg, the sight of people sleeping rough in shop doorways and park benches is awful beyond words.

“As everyone who took part in Social Bite's 'Big Sleep Out', last December in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens could tell you, one night spent in the freezing cold was bad enough.

“It is impossible to imagine what it must be like to spend night after night , especially over these last few days.”

Dr Barr is the founder of homelessness charity Fresh Start and associate convener of Scottish Churches Housing Action.

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Rev Dr John Cameron - Saturday, March 10th, 2018

“I'm glad to see Russell throwing his weight behind the US initiative "Housing First" (HF) which provides permanent housing to rough sleepers without preconditions regarding recovery from (or participation in treatment for) substance misuse or mental health problems.

Its being increasingly replicated in Canada, Continental Europe and Australasia. It marks a significant departure from the traditional ‘treatment first’ or staircase approach. Development of HF in the UK has been sporadic at best and pretty much non-existent north of the border.

There's been far too much virtue signalling and not enough research. In fact HF is about the only program which is evidence based though further work is needed to assess the effectiveness and long-term impacts for subgroups.

There's also scope for further research on the impact on health and substance abuse and the influence of different programmes on outcomes. But HF has excellent housing retention outcomes, which are especially impressive given that it's dealing with people with such complex needs.

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