OPEN homelessness cases in Scotland reached a record high of 30,000 this year – and it has sparked a renewed call from people on the frontlines of the crisis for greater support.

Jamie was on and off homeless for 20 odd years but now spends his time volunteering at Glasgow City Mission (GCM) helping homeless people.

“It felt worthless, no one cares. You don’t feel a part of society,” he explains.

There are currently 1400 people in temporary accommodation in Glasgow and they rely on services such as GCM and volunteers like Jamie.

He goes on: “Without places like this it would be catastrophic. Even coming here for a hot meal and to have a conversation.

“That would be enough to give me a wee bit of fight to get through the day and survive.”


THE problems Jamie (below) faced while homeless were keeping himself clean, keeping warm and getting drugs.

The National:

“You can maybe build up relationships with people but you were always in fear of violence,” he says.

There is also the stigma around being homeless as people assume you’re a drug addict. “It could be caused from breakdown of marriages, people losing their jobs,” he adds. “Then because they’re homeless they get into drug addiction just to try and deal with what’s going on in their life.”

Jack Geddes is head of fundraising and marketing at GCM and tells the story of a man who use to come to Glasgow City Mission. He had his own business but after it failed he lost his house, his marriage broke down and he ended up on the streets.

“It can happen to anybody. That’s one of the things the general public has to understand,” Jack explains.


HE points to a lack of social housing as being a major factor in the homeless crisis, with so many people in temporary accommodation and not enough houses to move them into.

Glasgow City Council announced a housing emergency in November.

“People in temporary accommodation are trapped as there is nowhere for them to go. People can end up in temporary accommodation for years,” Jack says.

“Glasgow City Council has major financial problems. This is because of lack of funding from Westminster, because of austerity.”

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Jamie and Jack have both said the main thing the government can do to deal with the crisis is increase funding for social housing and projects such as GCM.

The situation with asylum seekers has exacerbated homelessness. The UK Government was dealing with a backlog of more than 90,000 asylum cases and decided to rush through applications.

Jack explains: “While they are in the system, housing has to be paid by the Home Office.

“If they give someone the right to remain this person can go anywhere in the UK, pitch up and ask for a house. It is then the responsibility of Glasgow City Council to find them accommodation and pay for their temporary accommodation.”


AT GCM, volunteers serve lunch and dinner. There is a gym, a music room, art classes, college classes and support in finding work.

It has a rehab pathway and two of the three people who run it have lived experience with addiction and homelessness.

“A lot of what we do is designed to bring enjoyment, education and employment,” Jack explains.

“Our guests get to know volunteers and become friends. It’s a relational thing which is important for people who are struggling in life.”

“These people have been on the road Jamie’s on. So he has mentors he can look at. They know the pain and the chaos before they went into rehab. There will be guests now that sit down with Jamie and see him doing well and ask him how he did it. So he becomes a mentor.”

Jamie says he started volunteering “to let people know that I came through it and let everyone know there is a way out” – and it helps him to process what he went through.

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He continues: “Getting a meal and having a conversation offers you a wee bit of hope you can get out of it. Seeing other people ahead of me who have come through and done the exact same.”

Since coming to GCM, Jamie is no longer homeless and is back in touch with his family.

Jamie says: “This place doesn’t just touch my life but everyone’s lives around me. It makes a big difference to everyone’s life.”