By now many of you will have read the Glasgow Evening Times articles that have been running over the past two weeks about homelessness in Glasgow. I want to thank the Evening Times and in particular Peter Swindon, for his journalism. The reporting is shocking in places and should shock us all as a society. These articles remind us that there are real people day in day out facing homelessness right on our doorstep.
Much, much more needs to be done in the city, and while it is not an easy fix we believe there is a renewed desire to bring change. So we call on Glasgow City Council to delivery on its statutory duty, we call on the third sector to rise to this increasing challenge in new and innovative ways, we call on the public to hold every one of us in the sector to account and not forget the homeless population once the headlines have disappeared and we call on the Christian Church to pray and participate in our desire to end homelessness.
On 7th June we’re announcing further steps Glasgow City Mission is taking to combat an increasing brokenness in our society. While desperately sad that we need to, we’re thrilled that we can, with your help, put extra resource into the city to continue to combat not only the root causes of homelessness but the symptoms as well.
We’re determined to see things change, and I’m delighted to work with such a passionate team of staff and volunteers.
Join us 7th June 6.30pm at St Silas Church on Woodlands/Park Road, G4 9JE for an evening entitled “Going Deeper” and hear more about the work we’re doing, how it makes a difference and our ambitious plans for the future.
Until then, let me take a moment to unpack some of the complexities surrounding homelessness in Glasgow – layers which you have the power to participate in to bring about change.
Root cause of homelessness
All charities involved in homelessness know for a fact that relationship breakdown is the number one cause. There are many other factors, but relationships are at the core of the problem and in turn the solution.
Your local authority isn’t responsible for building and sustaining good relationships in our community – the community is. And relationship building and sustaining skills don’t come to us easily when we’re older; they are developed as children particularly in the home. Missing this developmental stage doesn’t make good relationships impossible, it just makes it harder.
Each and every one of us are in relationships with others, from passing your neighbour and saying hello, to lunch with a colleague or date night with your better half.
The simple act of sustaining, nurturing and developing these relationships can be a long term life saver.
So often I hear people say “if it wasn’t for my friends… or family or faith, I’d be in the same situation.” You can be part of the solution, maybe you’d like to volunteer and become a befriender, or maybe you want to simply invest in relationships with your neighbours.
Coping mechanisms and symptoms
Often confused with the cause of homelessness, addictions and other coping strategies are signs that things are broken. Pressures at work, money problems or relationship breakdowns often lead people deeper into a place that either numbs the pain for a while, and or brings a short term rush.
How our culture portrays alcohol and its abuse is a factor, as is how it is sold, marketed and distributed. How we think about alcoholics and the stigmatism all play a part.
Our world can be a pretty cruel place for those who are just coping. People often ask me why the 54” telly in the council flat. It’s simple. Our world advertised that this 54” telly would bring joy; something that was missing from the flat. Furthermore you could purchase this “joy” in 24 easy payments. Turns out the joy didn’t last but the 24 payments won’t go away.
The increase and accessibility of gambling both online and in our high streets leading to debt, leading to pay day lenders, leading to more debt, leading to depression, leading to self-medicating. Need I go on? I could talk about the unacceptable face of violence on our television screens, video games, and films that leak into our schools, communities and our homes, however there are others more qualified than I to contribute to discussion on domestic violence.
The more I see at Glasgow City Mission the more it becomes clear to me how nobody is ever homeless because of one single issue. There are multiple issues and they are all connected like a stack of dominoes, and while those on the sharp end of service provision must and can do better, we all have a responsibility for the society we live in.
What papers you read, what TV programmes and films you watch, the rhetoric you use, the social media you participate in, all come to shape the world/city/community we live in. How you participate in your community really counts.
Kingdom of God
There are some who believe that I’m naive and the utopia or nirvana that I seek is a myth and the world we live in is going to hell in a handcart. However I’m witness to glimpses of paradise which promise more to come. It’s called the Kingdom of God, and it’s here in part now and there is much more to come. It’s a Kingdom where people are set free from addictions, relationships are restored, where joy and contentment live hand in hand and violence is defeated by the power of peace.
I believe this is the Kingdom that Jesus came to reveal, and while there is more of His Kingdom to come, Glasgow City Mission feels called to work in the present and pray for the future. Thank you for partnering with us.
Evening Times homelessness investigation links:
Homeless in Glasgow
Difficulties accessing statutory homeless accommodation
- Undercover investigation: I've got no accommodation tonight
- Homelessness case worker: Take council to court to get a bed for the night
- Homeless woman slept on streets after fleeing violent boyfriend
- Man slept in alley after he was turned away by the council
Striking homelessness case workers:
- Caseworkers reveal chronically under-resourced service
- Union accuse council of treating striking staff with contempt
Expose on the 'notorious' Bellgrove Hostel:
- Bellgrove manager admits it's the bottom rung of the ladder
- Bellgrove: I imagine dying here
- Bellgrove should have been closed years ago
- Bellgrove hostel is here to stay say locals
- Bellgrove owner: nobody is saying we don't make money
Asylum seekers homeless in Glasgow:
Homeless war veterans:
- Homeless veteran forced to sleep in car
- Hundreds of homeless veterans in Glasgow
- Hero veteran who sleeps in car now in priority group for housing
- Many more hidden homeless veterans
- Homeless Afghan veteran tormented by flashbacks
- Charities responding to homelessness in Glasgow
- Big Issue vendor: the worst is when people lash out… I've had guys punch me
- Big Issue vendor: abused and ignored - a day in the life