Urgent need for accurate measure of rough sleeping in Scotland.

published on 27 Feb 2024

The Salvation Army is calling for accurate measurement and reporting of rough sleeping to be introduced urgently in Scotland following publication of the latest homelessness statistics today by The Scottish Government. They include an indication that growing numbers of people are sleeping rough. 

The figures released today show that from 1 Apr to 30 Sep 2023, 1,408 applications that reported a household member experiencing rough sleeping in the three months before the application was made, and 888 the night before. 
This compares to 1,184 households and 733 households the year before.

Malcolm Page, Assistant Territorial Director of Homeless Services with The Salvation Army, said: “From today’s statistics we see indications that rough sleeping is increasing in Scotland, up from very low numbers during and immediately after the Pandemic when legislation protected people. Rough sleeping numbers in Scotland are assessed through asking questions when people make a homelessness application. It is good that this information is collected but because not everyone sleeping rough will register as homeless it needs to be supplemented with real-time information.” 

In London, organisations supporting people who are rough sleeping collect and submit real-time data, building an accurate picture across the city through a process called CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network). The Salvation Army is calling for the establishment of a CHAIN-type approach in areas with high levels of street homelessness in Scotland to enable more effective and targeted allocation of resources and more help for people who are sleeping rough.

Malcolm added:  “We know from experience in London that resources can be allocated effectively when we have access to real-time information on rough sleeping. That is why we are calling for a CHAIN-type system here Scotland where there are high levels of rough sleeping, capturing the number, nature and distribution of the problem. This would not only assist in targeting resources but would support progress towards eradicating it.

“Scotland has some of the strongest measures in place to protect people who are homeless. In addressing this information gap, we have an opportunity to further strengthen protections for people with the sharpest experiences.”

The Salvation Army runs homelessness services across Scotland, including 10 Residential services in Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Perth, Edinburgh and Dundee; three outreach services in Greenock, Inverness and Aberdeen: two Housing First services in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire; two drop in / hub services in Edinburgh and South Lanarkshire. It also provides support through its network of churches, from Stornoway to The Borders.

Salvation Army officer welcoming a homeless person into a Salvation Army centre

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