Nicola Sturgeon gives £6.5m backing to Social Bite’s Housing First program

The First Minister unveiled the support at the SNP party conference following recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group

Nicola Sturgeon has awarded homeless charity Social Bite £6.5 million to increase the number of people helped off the street by its Housing First program.

Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn raised more than £4m with last year’s Sleep in the Park event to support the scheme, which sees rough sleepers housed in their own property alongside support for complex needs.

But the First Minister’s announcement at the SNP party conference in Glasgow today will now take the number of people helped up to 830 over the next three years with aid from local authorities, third sector and housing providers.

“Traditionally the approach has been to provide support and get a person ‘tenancy ready’ before giving them a house. But that can mean they spend long periods of time in temporary accommodation, making it harder for them to address the other issues they face,” said Sturgeon. “We want to change that, which is why we are working with Social Bite and others to invest in and expand Housing First to make it a key element of all homelessness services in Scotland. It is our priority to get a person into settled accommodation first, so they can then access support from the security of their own home.”

DID YOU KNOW…

In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.

The move comes following recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which included Littlejohn.

Social Bite, which has sandwich shops that employ homeless people in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, will be holding Sleep in the Park once again across four cities on December 8 this year.

“It is our firm belief that Scotland can be a country where no-one has to be homeless here,” Littlejohn said. “However, if that is to become a reality then there must be the political commitment to prioritise and tackle the issue head-on. With this funding pledge, the Scottish government have demonstrated a commitment that will see Scotland become by far the largest provider of ‘Housing First’ in the UK and one of the largest in Europe.”

Sturgeon also addressed social housing in her speech insisting that more council houses were built in Scotland in the last five years than in England.

The First Minister insisted that it was a “remarkable fact” that 5,667 homes had been built in the country compared to 5,330 south of the border.

Image: Social Bite