We are proud of our famous city for the historical castle that dominates the skyline, an international arts festival attracting millions of visitors every summer and many hills with sweeping views. It is fantastic to live in such a vibrant place and yet Edinburgh is also a city that lacks affordable housing and leaves some of our residents living in fragile housing situations and experiencing homelessness. We want to change that – to end homelessness in Edinburgh – and so we are passionately committed to working with our partner organisations, both within Edinburgh and across Scotland, to end homelessness and join with them in ensuring that everyone has somewhere safe and warm that they can call home.
Scotland has some of the strongest rights in the world for people experiencing homelessness and there has been some really exciting and promising work done over the last few years to end homelessness. This has included the acceptance by the Scottish Government of full set of recommendations by the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) in June 2018 and Ending Homelessness Together: High Level Action Plan published by the Scottish Government and COSLA in November 2018, which has since been revised and updated in response to the Covid19 pandemic. The HARSAG recommendations have also been updated following the pandemic and were accepted in principle by the Scottish Government in July 2020.
During the first national lock-down in March 2020, we were able to ensure that everyone in Edinburgh who was ‘rough sleeping’ was moved into hotel accommodation, protecting health and wellbeing. Volunteers helped with delivering medication, food and crisis intervention for people experiencing homelessness and harmful substance use. This is only possible with compassion and strong partnership working. In Edinburgh, we have very strong partnerships with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, third sector organisations, universities, businesses and local people. We are also working together with our colleagues across Scotland in the Everyone Home Collective, a group of 27 (and growing!) third sector and academic organisations, to protect the progress that has been made to end homelessness in Scotland.
This is the moment to think and act big. To put housing at the heart of Scotland’s national recovery from COVID-19. To build an ambitious public programme of housing options and opportunities. And to make the right decisions that will leave homelessness and rough sleeping behind us and get everyone home. (Everyone Home: Scotland Collective on Covid19, 2020)
The Covid19 pandemic has not only brought huge challenges, but also new opportunities to work together to develop Route Maps to end the need for night shelters and hotel provision in Scotland and to end destitution and protect human rights. We are committed to that work in Edinburgh and with our colleagues and partners across Scotland.