Housing

Homelessness outreach service goes the extra mile

Glasgow charity Simon Community Scotland has got its on bike and created a pedal-powered outreach service for urban rough sleepers

Simon Community Cycle Team

Rough sleepers in Glasgow’s urban areas are to be supported by bicycle thanks to a new initiative.

The Street Cycles team, run by Simon Community Scotland, are being kitted out with bikes to allow them to meet the changing demands of helping rough sleepers.

After discovering growing numbers of rough sleepers heading to different areas of the city, the team developed the innovative pedal-powered programme, which will see their teams use touring bikes loaded with food, clothing, needle-exchange kits and sleeping bags to reach Glasgow’s outer areas.

We are bringing in volunteers to increase the scope of our cover and using bikes to reach a wider number of people

Hugh Hill, director of Services at the charity, said: “We are encountering growing numbers of homeless people in the south and west of the city, most of them women concerned about their safety in the city centre.

“Our ability to cover the more outlying parts of the city is inhibited by staff resources, as well as geography. We are bringing in volunteers to increase the scope of our cover and using bikes to reach a wider number of people, increase the visibility of the work we do, and distribute supplies.”

Funded by The National Lottery, the scheme is appealing for people to volunteer for this “unique and rewarding challenge”; extensive training will be given, including first aid and the administration of opiate reversal drug, Naxolone. It is hoped that an army of 30 volunteers working in pairs will provide the necessary staff for a seven-days-a-week service.

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The project was launched by the Minister for Local Government and Housing for Scotland, Kevin Stewart. “Scotland has some of the strongest housing rights for homeless people anywhere in the world,” he said. “This year we have set our a clear objective to eradicate rough sleeping, recognising that it requires more than just the provision of housing and that every individual has their own unique needs and challenges.”

Simon Community Scotland has announced that the kits used by their outreach ‘street team’ will now include sanitary products for women who are rough sleeping. They are also launching ‘Period Friendly Points’ throughout the city’s homelessness services, where as well as picking up sanitary supplies, women are given the chance to speak to trained staff on issues such as personal health and hygiene.

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