Practical way to support

A practical way to support

Our final story as part of our campaign to welcome new Nightstop hosts introduces Ian Hamilton and Claire Philip who joined the programme at the start of this year. They had been moved by experiences in London and Glasgow, and wanted to do something which was a practical way to support. 

Ian Hamilton (35) and Claire Philip (37), both lecturers in Glasgow, became hosts at the beginning of this year after Claire saw an advert for hosts at her workplace in November last year.

On a subsequent visit to London on New Year’s Day they were shocked to see the amount of people sleeping on the streets, and this spurred them on to do something practical way to support people who are threatened with becoming homeless.

The couple, who live in Maryhill, Glasgow, attended an information evening about the project and watched a documentary called “Would You Take In a Stranger?” on Channel 4 about Nightstop in Newcastle to find out more.

Ian, a sport and fitness lecturer at City of Glasgow College, and Claire an ESOL lecturer at Kelvin College, had recently bought their first house after living abroad for a few years.

As they have no children, they had a spare bedroom and wondered how to put it to good use.

Ian said: “We were upset to see so much homelessness in London and we just started thinking about what we could do to help.

“The more documentaries we watched we realised how widespread this problem is across the UK’s cities and we decided to find out more about becoming hosts for Nightstop.

“We couldn’t invite random people off the streets to use our spare room so Nightstop was the perfect solution for us.

“They try to prevent the problem of homelessness rather than just provide a sticking plaster.”

Nightstop provides support, training and advice to hosts and they carry out a number of checks on potential service users to decide whether they are suitable for the project.

In addition, Nightstop checks the availability of hosts each month and the days are marked on a calendar from available (green) to some availability (amber) and not available (red).

Nightstop also makes sure that service users get adequate support and access to other services they may need.

Service users can have dinner and breakfast with their host if they want to, but it’s left up to them to choose.

Ian and Claire were hosts for the first time in June this year to a young man who stayed with them twice for two nights.

Ian said: “He was very grateful and a bit overwhelmed in a positive way.

“He couldn’t believe there were people out there who care and who would give up their spare room to someone.

“He wanted to learn to cook and we showed him how to make a few different things for dinner.

“Our guest also wanted to tidy up and offered to take our dog for a walk which was very nice.

“Hosts are encouraged to allow their guest to choose whether they want to spend the evening with them, study, or have time alone in their room.

“Basically, it’s up to them how much time they spend with their host.”

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The young person leaves the house with the host in the morning and arrives in the evening at a time that fits in with the host’s schedule.

Nightstop triggers a variety of support and services for users and the charity strives to find long-term accommodation for them.

Ian added: “Nightstop is very supportive with excellent communication.

“They pass on any information that we may need to know about our guest before they come to stay.

“They also check in with you when a service user has settled in to make sure everything is going well.

“We’ve never heard of anyone having any issues and service users are just very grateful to have somewhere safe and comfortable to stay.”

Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who are interested in finding out more about becoming a Nightstop host. It will take place this Thursday (24 October 2019). If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer

Natalie's story about Nightstop

We had a shared bathroom and there was always needles in it – Natalie

The latest story in our series to profile just how much we need to recruit new Nightstop community hosts comes from Natalie* who spent seven years without a place to call home. Could you open your home and heart to a vulnerable young person. 

Natalie* (22), was homeless for nearly seven years when she found out about Nightstop after she phoned the homelessness charity Shelter for advice.

Shelter referred her to Simon Community Scotland and they told her about their Nightstop service and she was accepted on to the programme.

Natalie became homeless when she was 15 after she left home because her relationship with her dad had broken down and her mum had passed away.

She had spent years of sleeping on friends’ sofas, staying at young people’s residential units, supported accommodation, B&B’s and hostels and even sometimes on the street, before she used the Nightstop service.

Now Natalie is studying for an HNC in Law at Motherwell College, she applied for the course with assistance from the Mungo Foundation.

After nearly seven years of waiting in Glasgow, Natalie was offered a house in Motherwell this March within a month of applying.

This was thanks to a lecturer who suggested that she should apply for a home in North Lanarkshire.

Natalie used the Nightstop service for 40 days over a few months in January to February this year.

She had a variety of hosts but she mainly stayed at two people’s homes because they had the most availability.

Natalie said: “The hosts were all really lovely, I spent more time with some than others, but I think there were only two hosts that I didn’t get to know very well.

“Even then, they were still great, very accommodating.

“The ones I stayed with for longer made me feel like I was at home, which was really nice.

“I think it just comes down to the safety, you do feel a lot safer in the accommodation that Nightstop provides.

“The council laughed at me when I brought up the issue of a broken lock on my door when I was previously in a B&B, but I just didn’t feel safe.

“I was living with heroin addicts and we had a shared bathroom and there was always needles in it.

“It got to the stage when I just thought I can’t stay here any longer.

“By the time I heard about Nightstop I was just so fed up.

“I wondered how much longer I’d be homeless for.

“I knew I wouldn’t get a house until I was at least 18 so I’d have to wait for years.

“I was worried I’d end up homeless my whole adult life.

“And it’s not because I’ve done anything wrong it’s just the situation I found myself in.”

Natalie was forced to give up her job as a charity fundraiser because she couldn’t take the buckets of money back to the B&B because she was worried the money would get stolen.

She added: “I’d encourage anyone who’s thinking about using Nightstop to go for it.

“When they first told me I’d be living with a stranger I was apprehensive but they were all lovely.

“It’s like a home away from home.

“Everyone is so kind and treats you with respect.

“One host let me leave some of my possessions in their house because they knew I’d be coming back and another left fresh pyjamas out for me.

“They think of everything. Some hosts give you a kettle and food in your room in case you’re too anxious to come out.

“Hosts always make sure you’re comfortable and have everything you need.”

Natalie can recall the date and the exact time she was given a house and now she’s focused on her future and passing her course in Law.

*Natalie’s name has been changed to protect her identity. 

Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who are interested in finding out more about becoming a Nightstop host. It will take place on Thursday (24 October 2019). If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer

Geraldine, Nightstop Glasgow host

Everyone can make a difference, says Nightstop Glasgow host Geraldine

Led by Deacon Blue star Lorraine McIntosh, we are looking for people who might consider becoming a community host with Nightstop Glasgow – perhaps even just once a month.  Geraldine Feeley is one of our longest serving hosts. 

Geraldine Feeley (53) from Easterhouse, Glasgow, has been a Nightstop host for two years.

She became a host so that she could help young people who become homeless because some members of her family have lost their homes over the years.

Geraldine has accommodated six young people so far and they have usually stayed with her for two to three nights, however one young woman stayed for three nights a week for a month.

She has always had a very positive experience and says she gets excellent support from The Simon Community to help her to carry out the role, including regular meetings and training opportunities.

Geraldine said: “There’s no pressure to be available, it’s completely up to you.

“I tend not to ask my guests a lot of questions because I think if they want to tell me, they will.

“We have a general conversation and if they feel comfortable I’ll chat with them about their situation.

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“Hosts need to be open minded and non-judgemental because each young person is different.”

She added: “Being a host is really rewarding, it’s nice to know I’ve done my bit.

“It’s great to get feedback about how well the young person’s getting on after they leave.

 “But I’m just one link in the chain, if everyone did their wee bit it could make a huge difference.”

Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who are interested in finding out more about becoming a Nightstop host. It will take place next Thursday (24 October 2019). If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer

These kids are just like your kids – Miriam

Would you consider opening your home – and your heart – to a young person in Glasgow who desperately needs a safe place for the night? Our new campaign, led by Deacon Blue star Lorraine McIntosh, is looking for generous people who might just make all the difference to someone who is having a tough time. In our latest story, we feature Miriam Anwar, who recently became a Nightstop host. 

Miriam Anwar, (46), who lives with her grown-up son in the south side of Glasgow, became a host with Nightstop after working with the Simon Community as a street worker for a year.

She registered three months ago and hosted an under 18-year-old male on two occasions for four nights.

Miriam said: “The street team deals with the far end of homelessness, when people have been homeless for a long time, used many different services and often they’ve been let down.

“I was keen to work at the other end of the spectrum on the prevention side.

“I want to give young people a safe place to stay to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place.

“I’ve seen for myself how long people can end up being on the streets and as a single mum I’m aware of how easy it is for things to break down at home pretty fast.

“Tempers can flare and people walk out.

“Nightstop provides excellent background support when you host.

“The immediate reaction I get from friends and family when I say I’m going to host a young homeless person is ‘Oh my God will you be safe?’ 

“But you get full disclosure of who you are taking in before they arrive.

“I say to people these kids are just like your kids, they are just going through a tough time.

“And you are never forced to host anyone, it’s ultimately your decision.”

Miriam added: “You can have very open conversations with Nightstop staff about how it’s going and they are on call day and night if anything arises.

“For me it’s been a really positive experience.

“If anyone is thinking of becoming a host I’d say drop your prejudices.

For Jamie, Nightstop Glasgow, made a significant difference to his life. This is his story…Read on and learn about becoming a community host ➡️ simonscotland.org/news/without-nightstop-jamie/

Gepostet von Simon Community Scotland am Dienstag, 15. Oktober 2019

“Forget about the homeless person label – they are just a person.

“Being a host is a chance to meet really different and interesting people and enjoy a bit of company.

“I’d recommend Nightstop to anybody, it’s brilliant.

“Opening up your home to someone could help them in a very real way.

“The impact that you can make for someone that’s going through a time of upheaval can be immense. It’s just about giving someone a bit of stability, space and safety.”

Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who are interested in finding out more about becoming a Nightstop host. It will take place on 24 October 2019. If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer

Lorraine’s story: Why I’m supporting Nightstop

We’re looking for the generous people of Glasgow to open their homes and hearts to vulnerable young people at risk by providing a bed for a night or two. Here, our ambassador, the singer and actress Lorraine McIntosh, reveals why she’s supporting our campaign.

Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh from Glasgow is married to Deacon Blue singer-songwriter Ricky Ross and they have three children.

Lorraine has achieved notable success as an actress, starring in Scottish TV soap opera River City as Alice Henderson and appearing in Taggart.

She has also been in a few Scottish films, including Ken Loach’s My Name Is Joe and Lone Scherfig’s Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, as well as BBC One’s comedy-drama, Hope Springs.

Lorraine is supporting Nightstop because she became homeless when she had just turned 18.

Luckily, Lorraine could stay with one of her friends until the end of term. Then she lived with her brother for a short time until she found a place of her own.

She said: “I came out of school one day and didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night.

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“It was a really shameful and embarrassing experience and I had nowhere to turn.

“If Nightstop had been around then that would have been brilliant.

“It would have been a wonderful to walk into someone’s home and not to be asked any questions.

“Just to be offered a bedroom, a hot meal, some nice clean pyjamas and toiletries and to know the host is there if you want to talk, but it’s left up to you.

“I didn’t really want extended family members to know what was going on.

“People’s lives are complicated and staying with a stranger takes away some of the pressure of talking about painful things.”

She added: “One of the strongest messages that comes through is that if someone has become a host, they have decided to do that, and you’re not turning up at your aunties house out of the blue.

“They are saying ‘I’m here for you, this is something I want to do’.”

When Lorraine went out with the Simon Community on a street patrol she met young people with drug and alcohol problems who had been involved in really dangerous situations, such as sexual and physical violence.

She believes that if someone had been able to intervene in these young people’s early days it’s possible that their life could have been totally different.

Lorraine is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who are interested in finding out more about becoming a Nightstop host. It will take place on 24 October 2019. If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer.  

Without Nightstop I don’t know really where I would have ended up – Jamie

We’re looking for the generous people of Glasgow to open their homes and hearts to vulnerable young people at risk by providing a bed for a night or two. As part of our campaign, we are profiling some of the guests and their hosts, to find out what Nightstop Glasgow means to them. We kick-off with Jamie Hughes…

Jamie Hughes (18) used Nightstop in February 2018 after he was kicked out of his family home where he lived with his mum and younger brother.

He’d been arguing a lot with his brother, and due to his mum’s poor health, she felt that she could no longer cope with Jamie living at home with them.

Unusually Jamie stayed with the same Nightstop host for five nights, then he was transferred by Simon Community to a hostel until they could find more permanent housing for him.

Jamie, who is currently undergoing hormone therapy treatment to transition from female to male, said: “Usually you just stay with a host for three nights, so I was very lucky to be with the same person for all five nights.

Deacon Blue star Lorraine McIntosh today launches our new campaign, asking people in Glasgow to ‘open their hearts and homes’ to some of the most vulnerable young people in her home city. In this new film, Lorraine visits Geraldine, one of our Nightstop Glasgow community hosts to find out more…

Gepostet von Simon Community Scotland am Freitag, 11. Oktober 2019

“When someone from the Simon Community told me about Nightstop scheme I was very suspicious at first.

“It all sounded a bit sketchy, but I’m so glad that I did it now.

“Without Nightstop I don’t know really where I would have ended up.

“I could have easily been forced to sleep on the streets.

“The Simon Community has really helped me by providing me with somewhere to live from the start.

“I’d encourage anyone else who ends up homeless to keep an open mind about Nightstop and to relax – it will all work out just fine.

“The Nightstop team really look after you and the hosts make you feel very welcome.”

Jamie now lives in longer-term shared accommodation in the south side of Glasgow with one other person, which was arranged through another Simon Community housing scheme.

He’s currently studying Care at college and his passion is youth work because he wants to help other young people who find themselves in difficult life situations.

Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who are interested in finding out more about becoming a Nightstop host. It will take place on 24 October 2019. If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer.  

Deacon Blue star calls on people of Glasgow to open their doors for new Nightstop campaign

Deacon Blue star Lorraine McIntosh today launches our new campaign, asking people in Glasgow to ‘open their hearts and homes’ to some of the most vulnerable young people in her home city. In this new film, Lorraine visits Geraldine, one of our Nightstop Glasgow community hosts to find out more…

Gepostet von Simon Community Scotland am Freitag, 11. Oktober 2019

Deacon Blue star Lorraine McIntosh has called upon people in Glasgow to ‘open their homes and hearts’ to some of the most vulnerable young people in her home city.

Lorraine has thrown her support behind Simon Community Scotland’s Nightstop campaign, after revealing she was homeless at the age of 18.

It’s an experience which has lived with her for more than 35 years.

Now also a well-known actress, Lorraine remembers how ashamed and embarrassed she felt when her family lost their home overnight when she was 18.

For that reason, the 55-year-old is backing Simon Community’s campaign to encourage people to become ‘hosts’ for as much or little time as they can.

Nightstop prevents homelessness through community hosting – providing a safety net to those who have been forced to leave their home.

The programme places young people aged 16 to 25 in a safe and warm home for the night, provided by a vetted and approved volunteer.

Deacon Blue star Lorraine McIntosh is supporting our campaign to encourage people in Glasgow to become Nightstop community hosts

Hosts offer a private bedroom, a hot meal, and shower. A range of toiletries and other essentials are also provided by Simon Community Scotland.

Nightstop is designed to prevent young people from sleeping rough, “sofa surfing”, or staying in unsuitable accommodation where they could be at risk.

A young person can stay for one or two nights – or up to three weeks – depending on their circumstances and not necessarily with the same host.

During this time the Nightstop team will provide wraparound support where necessary, led and informed by the young person.

Lorraine McIntosh comments: “I came out of school one day and didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night. It was a really shameful and embarrassing experience and I had nowhere to turn.

“If Nightstop had been around then for me that would have been brilliant.

“Just to be offered a bedroom, a hot meal, some nice clean pyjamas and toiletries and to know you can talk to someone if you want to, but that’s left up to you.”

Simon Community Scotland Chief Executive Lorraine McGrath adds: “We’re calling upon the people of Glasgow to open their hearts and homes, by helping us help young people in desperate need. These young people are often coming from extremely difficult circumstances, and a safe, calm place to rest for the night is critically important.

“Last year when we launched, we provided 96 nights of accommodation for young people, but we expect this to rise this winter, after we launch a new awareness campaign for young people across the city.

“Being a host might mean being available as little as one night per month, or more if possible. Each host that joins us is extensively trained, has ongoing support, and all of our work is underpinned with a very significant safeguarding process.”

Lorraine McIntosh is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who think they may be able to host. It will take place on 24 October 2019.

If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer.

Streetwork Gets a Makeover! Find Out the Story Behind the New Look

How It Started…

Streetwork joined our Simon Community family earlier this year. We’ve been so proud to welcome this incredible service in Edinburgh. Every day, across all our services, we offer compassionate, flexible and skilled support to people facing extremely difficult situations. At Simon Community Scotland, we work hard to demonstrate our values in everything we do – including how we look and feel.

As a team, we looked at the Streetwork logo and knew it was time for something different. For many people, the old logo, with the yellow and black colour scheme, felt too harsh. We wanted to develop something that better captured our energy and spirit, and also showed Streetwork as part of the Simon Community family. 

We wanted our new look in Edinburgh to capture the things people felt were really important in our work. We wanted our look to resonate feelings of care, compassion, ambition, leadership, development, creativity, vibrancy, passion, inspiration, energy and enthusiasm.

To get the ball rolling, we asked all of our staff in Edinburgh to join discussions on the new look. We reviewed their existing logos (and those throughout the sector) and considered how it made us feel. We also looked at our values and the existing Simon Community Scotland look to shape and inform our decisions and inspire our overall design.

In the end, we decided that we wanted the phrases below to guide the design process. For us they represent the first emotional impression we want people to have when they see our new logo or engage with someone in our team:

  • hope, positive change
  • welcome, warm, positive
  • compassionate, caring, helpful
  • relationships, connection, diversity
  • trustworthy, safety, professional, credible
  • energy, action, dynamic

It’s about people first and foremost…

These qualities really matter because we are here to offer support to people who are experiencing really tough situations – and who often don’t receive consistent warmth and kindness. We want to be a place and a community who demonstrate welcome, offering practical and emotional support that feels positive and can bring hope. For someone visiting us, we know this positive welcome starts before someone even enters the building! We feel really proud to have a new look that reflects this sense of friendly, hopeful energy. 

Launch Day!

We launched the new Streetwork look on Friday 23rd August 2019. To celebrate, we had a staff gathering at our Southbridge building and Holyrood Hub in Edinburgh. Walking down the stairs, the atmosphere was buzzing with energy. There was bunting and balloons, teas and coffees, biscuits and banter. We also set up a display of all our new merchandise and, of course, there were delicious cupcakes… decorated with our logo! Holyrood Hub was also full of energy and more cake! It was great to hear people’s first impressions of the new look. 

Our CEO, Lorraine, and our Director of Services, Hugh, paid us a visit on the day. They arrived to an eager gathering of staff and then shared a few words alongside Jan, our Assistant Director at Streetwork. Behind them was a fantastic display of the new merchandise and clothing – all adorned with the new Streetwork logo!

After the opening words, everyone was invited to tuck into the lovely cakes and tea and many came over to Zora, our videographer (and Digital Inclusion Co-Ordinator) to share their feelings on the new look.

Big thanks to everyone in the team for their input and hard work in making this happen! We are so proud to have a look that captures the spirit and energy of our work and what we try to offer others. We want people to know and feel warmth, welcome and hope every day!

Here’s what our staff had to say about the new look for Streetwork.

Our Saltcoats Service is Closing: Here’s What You Need to Know

Here at Simon Community Scotland, we have been working with people affected by homelessness since the 1960s and always sought to broaden our horizons. We acquired the Saltcoats service on Green St in August of 2015 and it soon became our largest service. At capacity, the building accommodates 23 people experiencing homelessness between the ages of 16-70 who are in crisis and have an urgent need for accommodation.

In the Three Towns area, the service has proven to be invaluable in helping people affected by homelessness to find stability and personal development. We encourage a relationship-based approach in all of our supported accommodation and in doing so we have found great success in helping those we support. Our staff are trained to collaboratively work with the individuals they support and help them to identify the best way forward with matters ranging from addiction and abuse to job applications and family relationships.

Unfortunately, the Saltcoats service will close on Wednesday 31st July 2019 in response to a new ‘Housing First’ policy, which has resulted in significant cuts to funding within the sector.

We sat down with our CEO, Lorraine McGrath, to speak about the closure. This is what she had to say:

‘We are immensely proud of our staff and all of the people they have supported at Green Street for their commitment and perseverance during the closure process. All of us at Simon Community Scotland were very disappointed that the need for cost savings has resulted in the loss of the service in Saltcoats. I want to recognise and celebrate the success of so many people in moving away from crisis to find some stability, both during their stay at Green St and thereafter; the skill and compassion of the team in how they worked with every single person; and the many local partners who supported our work. We take inspiration from successes and learning from the challenges of delivering the service and we wish only continued great things for our staff and service users in the future as they move on from the service’.

Stewart Nixon, our Head of Services and Localities at Simon Community Scotland, and manager of the Saltcoats service said:

‘It is with a heavy heart that I have to comment on the service closing. I feel for our service users and they are our priority as we move forward. I am incredibly proud of every member of my staff group for their dedication, commitment, and compassion. The sheer amount of lives they have saved cannot go without mentioning and if it weren’t for their intervention, drug deaths in the area would have undoubtedly been 20-30 people higher every year. I cannot commend the staff or the service users enough’.

In the last four years, since the service began, we have helped over 1000 people experiencing homelessness in the Saltcoats area. Those who have stayed within our service have progressed onto temporary accommodation, back to their families, or even into a house of their own. Some people find their way back into the service after experiencing further difficulties.

The staff at the Saltcoats service shared a few words on the closure. One staff member said:

‘I have always found the Saltcoats service a great place to work. Every day we are faced with different challenges and as a team we always worked through these. Personally, I feel Saltcoats is a much-needed service in North Ayrshire due to the support we offer to the most vulnerable of clients who pass through our doors. I have loved every minute of my time working here and feel very sad at the need to close.

SNP Councillor Jean McClung, in whose ward the service is located, had the following to say:

‘I was pleased to be invited to the recent Open Day held at the Simon Community service in Green Street, the event being a celebration of the sterling work done over the years by the committed staff at the service. Since the first time I visited the service and met Head of Service, Stewart Nixon, I have been greatly impressed by his, and his staff’s empathy towards, and commitment to improving the lives of, the service users there.

I was quite distressed to discover at the Open Day that only a handful of residents knew where they would be living in three weeks time. My sincere hope is that, with the support of North Ayrshire Council, all the present residents of Green Street will find suitable accommodation, and will continue to receive the professional support they may require in order to move on with their lives’.

SNP Councillor Davina McTiernan, representative of the Stevenson Ward, said:

‘I support the Scottish Government’s ‘Housing First’ initiative that works towards housing those affected by homelessness in their own home, however, I commend the work done at the Simon Community service and acknowledge the importance of having such places available to those in need.

With support from North Ayrshire, I will do my utmost to ensure all residents of the Simon Community service will be offered accommodation and have support offered to them so they can continue to rebuild their lives’.

As of Tuesday 30th July, every service user within the Green Street service was successfully allocated accommodation. They are working with the Simon Community staff to transition effectively into their new living environments.

1,187 Lives Lost: How Do We Create Change?

Our communities reel at the latest drug-related death figures: 1,187 lives lost! This number is already 6 months out of date and doesn’t represent the further massive increase in deaths that we have all seen so far this year.

What Do We Know?

Last year we lost 11 of the people we support and our staff have had to endure another 10 losses in 2019, a trend that suggests we will be looking at an increase of 100% over the course of this year. This is a new tragedy within homelessness. We need to add together the previous three/four years of stats to get anything close to that level of lives lost. Alongside this, the rate of overdose intervention, which has also increased over 100%, is increasing parallel to the stats on deaths. This 100% represents a further 77 lives potentially saved (as of today) by staff who are there to intervene with Naloxone (where they believe that opioids are involved). Sadly we already know that in too many cases the greatest risk comes from combining drugs and so called “street valium”, that is dirt-cheap and highly risky as it continually changes in terms of content and potency.

Why We Need to Act NOW

It has sadly become the norm for people to experience and witness repeated overdose and death. Collectively, we no longer react in any way that considers these deaths preventable. We too often forget that those around each loss of life needs support and intervention. We need to recognise the absolute devastation these deaths cause to families, friends and staff. We need to not accept the normalisation of a preventable loss of any life and we need to not accept that our systems and policies make it increasingly difficult for people to access treatment and recovery options. 

Seeing loved ones, fellow service users and friends die, along with encountering only barriers and exclusion in trying to access support and care, only serves to deepen the pervading hopelessness and worthlessness that will have initially led them to addiction.

What Role Does Poverty and Trauma Play?

Unfortunately, the individuals we all support will have experienced poverty and/or trauma in early life. Our ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) aware nation may well prevent the tragedies of the future but we need much more understanding for those whose childhoods are already lost to trauma. To those who find themselves coping with their trauma through addiction and risk. To those who see no hope for a different future.

What Do We Need?

Safe Places

We need more safe places for people to go to. They need to safely access the drugs that have a stranglehold on them and their lives. They need to feel some care, compassion and ultimately something to drive a change inside of them that will tackle the pervading hopelessness that keeps them asking themselves ‘will today be the day I die?’.

We fully support the idea of a safer consumption room in Glasgow but people will not go there to swallow 40 street valium. We need a much broader and more meaningful response. We need big action that strengthens and grows the message that addiction is entirely a health-based concern that needs health-focused solutions but we also need to empower, enable and resource the small actions that can be the greatest catalyst for change.

Better Equipped Staff

Frontline staff need to be equipped to identify, respond and intervene at times of greatest risk, but, they also need more on the spot access to vital health and care resources at the right time and in the right way for each person they engage. We welcome the recognition that we have a public health emergency right now, right here in Scotland,  but we need the new Drug Deaths Taskforce to quickly drive change and action to try and reverse the terrifying increases we alone at Simon Community Scotland have seen this year.

What Now…?

Although we’d love one, there is no silver bullet. We must go person by person, community by community to tackle the hopelessness that grips those who need our help the most. We need to help in ways that say, “your life matters and your future can be different”. 

-Lorraine McGrath, CEO of Simon Community Scotland