Homelessness Action Group ‘getting things done’ says David Duke

Street Soccer Scotland founder praises the task forces's plans to save rough sleepers over winter after Nicola Sturgeon confirms £300k funding boost to implement proposals

Street Soccer Scotland supremo David Duke has praised plans to tackle rough sleeping over winter after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that more than £300,000 will be made available to bring their proposals into action.

The  Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group’s task force, which Duke joined alongside 11 others for the first time in October, has called for a host of new actions to tackle rough sleeping this winter in a new report, and the First Minister responded during a visit to Edinburgh homelessness charity Streetwork by announcing that £328,000 is available to bolster emergency measures in the short-term.

The group only formed 56 days ago and we created these short-term proposals because our aims are two-fold – saving lives this winter and improving lives in the long-term

Proposals include increased emergency accommodation across the Scottish capital, Glasgow and Aberdeen, where rough sleeping is at its highest, and introduce personal budgets to enable front-line workers to meet immediate housing needs.

The group also called for greater use of the emergency Nightstop service – which provide young people with emergency accommodation for up to two weeks in the homes of approved volunteers – in Edinburgh and support implementation of the service in Glasgow by January next year.

The 12-strong action group – which includes Duke, Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn and Shelter Scotland’s Alison Watson among others – was unveiled in September with a £50m remit to end rough sleeping across the country.

The Street Soccer Scotland founder, who previously worked for The Big Issue’s outreach team, said: “I think the news shows that we are getting things done – I speak to a member of the group on a daily basis and everyone else involved is the same.

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“The group only formed 56 days ago and we created these short-term proposals because our aims are two-fold – saving lives this winter and improving lives in the long-term.

“The Scottish Government have been very supportive so far – the Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have really listened and they have not questioned any proposals, they have just let us do what we need to do.

“But there are only 12 of us in the group and we need help from people all across the sector because only a team effort will help us reach our goals in the end.

“I’m very positive about how the group will progress going forward and I’m happy to help but there is a lot of work to be done.”

The group first met on October 5 with subsequent get-togethers happening twice in November 2017 to allow them to rubber-stamp how they will look to help rough sleepers get through the winter before moving on to ending homelessness altogether in the long-term.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister announced the £328,000 funding while visiting homelessness charity Streetwork in Edinburgh on Tuesday

Sturgeon said: “I want to thank the action group for the serious and urgent work they have done. These actions, which the government accepts in full and will roll out immediately, will provide more support for those who find themselves homeless and more safe and warm places to stay this winter.

“We have a shared commitment to eradicate rough sleeping and end homelessness which is why we established the action group, backed by £50 million to drive change.

“While we take these immediate steps to help those who find themselves at risk of rough sleeping this winter, the group’s work now continues as we strive to end rough sleeping for good.”

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