Belgian government minister inspired by Salvation Army project

published on 11 Nov 2021

A Belgian government minister has praised Glasgow’s Housing First project for helping people break the cycle of homelessness.

Meryame Kitir, who is in charge of development cooperation for major cities, was in Scotland for COP26 and took the opportunity to see how The Salvation Army helps provide intensive personal support to people in their own homes.

The church and charity is commissioned by Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, in partnership with the Wheatley Group and Social Bite to help men and women overcome sustained and recurrent periods of rough sleeping and repeat homelessness.

I’ve been really impressed at how all the different partners in this project work together to provide the support a person needs.
Belgian government minister Meryame Kitir

The minister met some of the service users who have been able to transform their lives through Housing First and said the Belgian Government was looking closely at the success of the project.

She said: “It’s inspiring to hear from the people who have turned their lives around thanks to Housing First. It’s a credit to them that they have the courage to accept the support and try to change their lives.  

“In Belgium we have a few pilot projects underway and are looking at Scotland and Finland as good examples of homelessness work. This project and what I have heard today is something I will take with me.”

Belgian minister 2
Belgian minister Meryame Kitir with Housing First service users Gary, Craig and Fraser.

Crucial to the success of Housing First is the support worker whose job, before helping someone move into a tenancy, is to identify their needs. For many people going through Housing First, their primary concern is financial - how they are going to pay bills and claim benefits, for starters.

Salvation Army staff also make sure people are registered at their new address and their utilities are in place. Health and wellbeing is another priority and staff will help people register with a GP and go to any medical appointments with them.

Ms Kitir added: “I’ve been really impressed at how all the different partners in this project work together to provide the support a person needs. They provide more than just a roof over someone’s head. Most of all they give a person respect. If someone doesn’t feel respected or treated as an equal then the project would not succeed.”

A Salvation Army officer speaking to a Lifehouse resident

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