Books to bring space and solace for capital’s rough sleepers

Media Release – 11.10.2018
SCOTS novelist, Ian Rankin, is to be joined by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in supporting a scheme that sees books being distributed to people who are rough sleeping, in Edinburgh.
The Inspector Rebus creator is backing an initiative adopted by local homelessness charity, Streetwork, which includes literacy classes and a network of outlets offering free books.
‘Streetreads’ will also see books being handed out to people on the streets and in emergency accommodation, recognising that a book can provide a place of space and solace.

An official celebration at the Storytelling Centre, in Edinburgh, will coincide with a call out to well-known individuals in the literary world, to become ambassadors. Plus to the general public, to help hand out books, co-ordinate their collection and fundraise.
Streetreads is the brainchild of local woman, Rachel Cowan (aka #bookwumman), who started it after she got to know a homeless person who was a keen reader.
She said: “The impact a book can have on a homeless reader is huge. Our books are given as a gift and are in excellent or even new condition so our readers know they are getting a present which is given with respect and love.”
Said Ian Rankin: “I’ve been a long-time fan of Streetreads and have seen first-hand the great work they do. Books can transport us anywhere, to times and worlds that excite and stimulate. That’s hugely important, no matter who you are or what your circumstances.”
Lorraine McGrath, chief executive of Streetwork and its sister charity, Glasgow-based Simon Community Scotland, said: “At Streetwork, we create connections with people from every background, circumstance and organisation – supporting people into recovery and off the street.”
“Stories – our own and those of others – are a great way of connecting with each other and Streetreads is a beautifully-engaging way to do this.”
“For most people, reading a book is a delightful, everyday pastime. Through Streetreads, this ordinary activity is more easily available to people facing and recovering from homelessness in Edinburgh.”
“We have been friends of Streetreads and Rachel for some time, loving the work she’s done in creating this amazing service.”
“We are delighted to bring this fabulous initiative to Streetwork, working with Ian Rankin and other supporters to reach further and build new exciting connections and opportunities for those we support.”

The launch is being supported by investment management firm, Baillie Gifford, which is headquartered in Edinburgh.
Sam Pattman, sponsorship manager at Baillie Gifford, said: “By giving away books to homeless readers, Streetreads ensures that – no matter what an individual’s circumstances are – reading is still a possibility. As a firm, Baillie Gifford advocates the importance of literature, which is why we are delighted to support this incredibly worthwhile initiative.”

Notes to editors:
The official launch of Streetreads is taking place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR, on Thursday October 11, between 1400 and 1600hours.
You are invited to send a representative, by first contacting Lydia Bennett on 0131 344 0825.
Photographs from the launch are available, afterwards, via https://goo.gl/idTDsx. Please credit: Euan Robertson.
Attending: People with experience of homelessness and Streetwork volunteers, Ian Rankin and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Minister for Local Government and Planning, Kevin Stewart MSP. Plus Lorraine McGrath, CEO Streetwork and Simon Community Scotland; Rachel Cowan, creator of Streetreads; Linda Holden, chair of Streetwork; Mary Craig OBE, chair of Simon Community Scotland; Sam Pattman, sponsorship manager, Baillie Gifford; Helen Mill, executive director at The Village Storytelling Centre in Glasgow; Gavin Francis, GP and award-winning author; and other guests.
About Streetreads:
Streetreads provide books, reading glasses, storytelling workshops and literacy support to people experiencing homelessness.
The initiative is supported by volunteers and welcomes involvement from anyone who wants to support this work through workshops, fundraising, book distribution or other initiatives.
A wide range of people are invited to get involved and make a difference including writers, publishers, profile raisers, optometrists, educators, creative thinkers and enthusiasts.
Streetreads outlets (contact Streetwork for opening times): 
Streetwork Holyrood Hub, Holyrood Road
Streetwork on South Bridge
Soul Food at St Paul’s & St George’s Church
Soul Food at Mustard seed St Margaret’s Church
Super Saturday at Old St Paul’s Church hall
Broomhouse COSS One Stop Shop
Edinburgh NW Foodbank
Bethany creative writing group
Edinburgh Access Practice
Cunningham House hostel
Safe Haven Leith
@streetreads
www.streetwork.org.uk/ streetreads/beafriend

abstract flying book over urban scene

About Streetwork
Homelessness charity, Streetwork, enables life off the street for people in Edinburgh who face extremely difficult circumstances.
Everyday, the team reach out, respond and help people resolve their homelessness so that they can recover and thrive.
Founded in 1991, Streetwork’s ‘street team’ is regularly joined by the likes of GPs and vets, to provide practical assistance to people sleeping rough (and any pets they might have).
Streetwork operates out of two premises in central Edinburgh, on South Bridge, and on Holyrood Road (a support and amenities hub for people who are homeless).
Among the facilities at the Streetwork Holyrood hub: individualised support, health services, digital skills training, employability services, washing facilities, telephones, internet access and correspondence address, etc.
The Streetwork visiting outreach team go out and meet with people in a wide range of settings including people living in hostels and temporary accommodation to build connections and positive relationships in order to support those who are most at risk of homelessness.
Streetwork is a sister charity of Simon Community Scotland, a Scottish homelessness charity based in Glasgow.
Visit http://www.streetwork.org.uk, @street_work
Telephone: 0131 344 0825. Its ‘street team’ can be contacted on freephone: 0808 178 2323 or by email: streetteam@nullstreetwork.org.uk by anyone who has concerns or needs advice.

Amazing things happen when we give people power to act

We are very proud to launch this independently commissioned report – ‘Views from the Frontline’. Drawing on the experience and insights of frontline staff, it highlights the activities, impact and key learning points of the 2017/18 Winter Initiative work across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Actions directly leading to life off the streets

The report clearly shows that when we give our frontline staff the power to act, amazing things can happen for the people we support, even those with the most extreme needs. Multiple case studies in the report show the profound (and sustained) impacts of actions taken by staff to support people to find a life off the streets. Many of those reached, engaged and enabled off the streets during this period had long histories of experiencing rough sleeping, extremely poor health and a consistent struggle with engaging with support and treatment.

Scottish Government commitment and initiative

The rapid action and resource allocation commenced in December 2017 following the formation of the Scottish Government ‘Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) in November 2017. The first questions this group were tasked with, was to respond to the question: What can be done to reduce rough sleeping this winter (2017/18)?

Enhanced activities

This report captures the enhanced activities of Streetwork, Simon Community Scotland and Aberdeen Cyrenians frontline services and the many partners they work with across the three cities. The enhanced activities included:
  • the introduction of ‘Personalised Budgets’ – a trailblazing innovation empowering frontline staff to make timely, on-the-spot decisions to end rough sleeping
  • a model of direct and rapid access accommodation in Edinburgh
  • stronger inter-agency working, including through Inter-Agency Street Networks
  • increased capacity and co-location of partner services within night/care shelters and outreach hubs.

Changing and saving lives

The positive impact over the winter – particularly with the harsh weather conditions and our ‘Beast from the East’ experience – cannot be overestimated. Literally hundreds of people did not spend the night sleeping on the streets of our three main cities. Many received much needed health inputs and found sustainable resolution as a direct result. As highlighted by our CEO, Lorraine McGrath, “Lives have been changed through their actions and, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say, lives have been saved.”

Doing what we do:

Amplifying and extending existing models of practice
Much of what we did over the winter was already in practice, but in much smaller ways, this initiative gave approaches greater life and formality and in some cases increased capacity to act. It also provided a way to properly evidence the value and impact of both existing and new ways of working.
No wheels were reinvented. We simply amplified and extended existing effective models of practice, strengthened collaborations, focused our attentions and actions on the most vulnerable and, most vitally, gave the power to act and direct resources to those that know best and have the greatest opportunity: the staff that know, meet and work to engage people sleeping rough every day.

Collective commitment

The report highlights that the momentum and national ambition to end rough sleeping is shared and owned at a local level. Actions from the Winter Initiative have directly supported frontline staff to better connect and engage with people who sleep rough – and led to more people being supported off this street this winter.

Seeing opportunity not risk and barriers

We are immensely proud of everyone – especially our own Street Teams and Outreach Workers – who pushed their organisational and professional boundaries, moved beyond their comfort zone, saw more opportunity than risk and barriers, and worked tirelessly (as always) just to make things happen for those we are most concerned about. Together we have doubtless saved and changed lives through these actions.
Thanks also to Dougie Paterson, who conducted all the interviews and drew this report together.

Click the link to see the ‘Views from the Frontline: The 2017/18 Winter Initiative’ report.

 

Welcoming Nicola Sturgeon to Streetwork: Announcing actions to make a difference

Streetwork are delighted to have welcomed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to our Holyrood Hub today. The visit was to announce that the recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group have been approved by the Scottish Government. This ensures there is a mandate and resources available to better support people and help combat homelessness this winter.

Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Kevin Stewart (Minister for Local Government & Housing) and Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis UK and Chair of the Scottish Government Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.
Streetwork’s Chief Executive, Lorraine McGrath, is a member of the Action Group representing both Streetwork and Simon Community Scotland: “It’s great to be part of such rapid action and to have this support from the Scottish Government and local services; support that will enable our street teams, at Streetwork and Simon Community Scotland, to simply make the right things happen, right now, to deliver that vital difference for people in the most extreme circumstances and end their need sleep rough this winter.”
Streetwork are very proud to be making things happen for people experiencing homelessness and continue to collaborate with partners to find solutions that can really work for the people we support this winter.
While visiting Streetwork’s Holyrood Hub, it was encouraging to see that the key emphasis of the Minister’s time was spent engaging with the people the use Streetwork services, as well as staff and volunteers.

The First Minister 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.”  

More information about the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group is available online. You can also read the Scottish Government Press Release here.

In the news: Tackling rough sleeping this winter

Delighted to host First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Housing Minister Kevin Stewart as they launched recommendations from the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.
Read more in the Scottish Government Press Release below:

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Tackling rough sleeping this winter

Immediate actions put in place

An increase in emergency accommodation and outreach provision for rough sleepers are among the actions announced today to further tackle the problem of homelessness.

The Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group has recommended the measures to address rough sleeping this winter – backed by an initial £328,000 worth of investment from government and Action Group members.
Since its first meeting on 5 October, the Action Group has worked at pace, and closely with local authorities and partners, to identify areas where there is the greatest need and actions that can have the most impact. Since its first meeting on 5 October, the Action Group has worked at pace, and closely with local authorities and partners, to identify areas where there is the greatest need and actions that can have the most impact.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and Action Group chair and Chief Executive of Crisis UK, Jon Sparkes, to announce the plans on a visit to homelessness charity Streetwork.
The First Minister 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.”
Jon Sparkes said:
“As the cold weather bites, it’s critical to support as many people sleeping on the streets as possible. However, the longer-term focus of the Action Group is on sustainable solutions which prevents people rough sleeping in the first place and our focus is now on looking at the practical and systems changes required to end rough sleeping for good.”
“These proposals mean that immediate, effective support can be given to people sleeping rough this winter, as well as making longer-term solutions easier to access.
“The effort and energy of Action Group members to work quickly to identify practical support along with the willingness of council leaders and sector colleagues to commit to more flexible practices at short notice has been remarkable.
“The decision to accept our recommendations and the fact that the First Minister is leading on the Scottish Government’s commitment to accept our recommendations and provide additional funding is vitally important. Not only will this ensure plans are put into place as quickly as possible but it also inspires confidence that the leadership required to meet the long-term goal of ending homelessness in Scotland is in place.”

 

Background

The full recommendations of the group are available online. Focused on the areas identified as the greatest numbers of rough sleepers they include:
  • Increase emergency accommodation in Edinburgh, and increase outreach capacity in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen
  • Boost multi-agency partnership working, adopting ‘by name lists’ and empowering front line workers through direct access to services and dedicated accommodation
  • Making personal budgets and/or flexible emergency fund available for front line staff to employ where maximum flexibility is required to meet immediate housing needs
  • At times of extreme weather, ensure flexible provision is available in Edinburgh and Glasgow for anyone who will not use winter night shelters, despite all efforts
  • Maximise use of Nightstop – which provide young people with emergency accommodation for up to 2 weeks in the homes of approved volunteers – in Edinburgh and support implementation in Glasgow by January 2018

More information on the action group is available online.

Street Cycles: Going the extra mile!

We’re looking for your help. Here’s how

Every day our staff are out on the Streets supporting vulnerable people to get assistance, critical supplies, connect with services and to enable a life off the street. With the support of volunteers we are able to reach many people on the street but we want to do more and reach more people so we’re looking to launch a new service called Street Cycles and we’re looking for your support.

Street Cycles – going the extra mile!

We want to expand our current outreach work, reaching further inside and around the city centre, connecting with more people, carrying more supplies and ultimately allowing us to support more people. To achieve this, we want to trial a new pedal-powered team, offering street outreach on bicycles.

The cycle team will travel in pairs on specially equipped bicycles, capable of carrying large quantities of essential items including food, clothing, first aid, sanitary products, harm reduction kits, underwear and information on available support. The team also undertake a mapping exercise where they seek out rough sleeping sites to engage and support the people they find hand in hand with our Street Team.
By mapping the city and offering essential supplies, our outreach team can make vital connections with people. This helps us build contact and trust with those we support. More experienced and trained staff are then able to follow up with individuals and support people off the streets.

What we need?

To make this new initiative a success, we really need to have the cycling community behind it. We need support in a variety of ways :

Volunteering: We need confident (and fit!) cyclists for this important role, for which we provide ‘Cycle Patrol’ and other training. Our Street Team staff provide ongoing support so that volunteers feel confident and are able to provide initial signposting to people they meet. We ask Street Cycles Volunteers to commit to a minimum of 1 shift per week, although 2 or more is better. Shifts are typically 4 hours.
Equipment: To equip a single volunteer to deliver this outreach service is a significant financial investment, as we can’t afford to cut back on capable, reliable and safe equipment for our volunteers to use. This includes clothing such as Hi-Vis cycle jackets, waterproof trousers, overshoes and helmets. Not to mention One fully kitted touring frame and panniers £1000. We are seeking cycling companies that want to align themselves with this positive charitable project, for donations of the equipment we require.
Donations: We are always seeking donations of dry food items, sanitary products and men/womens underwear. Our cycle outreach team will carry and distribute all these ‘basic’ items, which can offer comfort and dignity to people sleeping rough. Find out how you can get in touch to donate below.
Funding: There are also additional costs such as consumables, ongoing maintenance, and volunteer training. Any organisations wishing to financially support this project will know that 100% of their money is going to frontline work to support people on their journey out of homelessness. If you are able to assist in funding our new outreach initiative, then find out how you can get in touch below.
Premises: We require storage for a small fleet of bikes and enough space to conduct routine maintenance on them. Ideally a central location in Edinburgh, and this could be a challenge. If you are able to assist in helping us locate premises at no or very low cost please contact us below.

Want to get involved?

We’re hoping to launch the project early next year and we’re looking for people who would be interested in finding out more about volunteering. If you’re that person please complete the expression of interest form and we’ll be in touch next year.

StreetCycles Expression Of Interest

Please complete the form and click submit
If you have premises, wish to sponsor a bike or can help with equipment call Keir on 07867003628 for more information
Together we can help enable a life off the streets.