Media release: Cabinet Secretary helps homelessness charity launch new, innovative training programme


ONE of Scotland’s largest homelessness charities has launched a new, innovative training programme that is understood to be the first in Scotland to be academically accredited.

The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell MSP, marked the launch of the programme during a visit to Simon Community Scotland.

Simon Community Scotland has received academic accreditation from Glasgow Caledonian University for their innovative training in delivering Psychologically-informed Environments (PIE).

Both organisations have been working in partnership to create an academically-accredited training programme that will enable frontline social care staff to have greater insight into trauma and adopt a psychologically-informed approach to working collaboratively with people experiencing homelessness on their journey to recovery.

Commenting on the programme, Val Howatson, senior lecturer in Mental Health at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “GCU are absolutely delighted to have supported the Simon Community to achieve accreditation status for the PIE/trauma-informed training.

“This is an important endorsement of the organisation’s vision and commitment to providing high-quality, evidence-based training and supervision to staff across all levels of the workforce and embedding psychological theory into the core values of the care that they deliver.”

The programme was officially launched by Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, at Simon Community Scotland’s pioneering women’s service, Maxwell Drive.

The women within the service and service users throughout Simon Community Scotland will benefit from more enlightened, psychologically-informed staff. The training equips teams working in accommodation and intensive outreach support services to respond with more knowledge and skill for experiencing complex trauma.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “We recognise the importance of informed, trained staff in responding to those experiencing homelessness. Their expertise can help to significantly improve people’s health and wellbeing. I welcome Simon Community Scotland’s new university-accredited training programme, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to talk with some of the women who will benefit from this service.”

This SCQF Level 7 course will create opportunities for the staff of Simon Community Scotland, and partners across homelessness, to pursue further education in health and life sciences by providing academically-recognised points that help individuals gain entry to universities throughout the world.

The award is formally recognised by Glasgow Caledonian University and will contribute to module attainment in their Health and Life Sciences Department.

The course is also integrated into the Scottish Social Services Council’s online Open Badges platform, with Simon Community’s head of Learning and Development being responsible for all assessments and feedback.

Lorraine McGrath, CEO of Simon Community Scotland, said: “For too many of the people we support, their homelessness is a consequence of a journey often rooted in complex trauma.

“Our staff are often the key links in people’s lives and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to understand trauma and respond using a psychological approach we are able to build on the considerable resilience and survival skills many of the people have and support them into recovery where they can feel safe and in control.

“Delivering this initiative plays an important part in a wider agenda to improve access to formal and academically-accredited training for frontline homelessness support staff.”

Notes for editors:

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Free-to-use post-event photographs can be sourced from the following link (Credit: Simon Community Scotland):

About Simon Community Scotland

Simon Community Scotland is one of the largest homeless charities in Scotland. We connect with and support over 3,000 people each year across Scotland, employing over 200 staff and having the support of over 100 volunteers.

We deliver 365 days-a-year street outreach in Edinburgh and Glasgow, working with the most vulnerable individuals affected by homelessness: Those that are rough sleeping and destitute. We have supported and emergency accommodation with over 120 beds keeping people safe and helping them move on.

We provide essential and often lifesaving support across our services through our Hubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow. We are the largest provider of specialist women’s services in Scotland. The women we support on the street have an average life expectancy of 43 with homelessness being the consequence of a journey borne out of and peppered with trauma from an early age. All our staff are trained in trauma and psychologically-informed practice.

Our PIE training is understood to be the first of its kind in Scotland to be accredited.

We are a charity that has our values at the core of what we do and we are driven by compassion and a desire to improve the experiences, outcomes and future for the people we support. We are creative, innovative and continuously driven to improve. Our team consists of service users, volunteers and staff and we work collaboratively to build better services. Over a third of our staff have lived experience and every year we support more people into employment from poverty.

Further PIE training background/quick facts

Further information can soon be found at

Over the last three years, Simon Community Scotland has developed a psychologically-informed approach to the support and intervention they provide to people affected by homelessness. Their accommodation services have been redesigned to aid in the creation of a Psychologically-informed Environment (PIE) across the organisation to support operational delivery against the principles of PIE.

During this period, they commissioned ‘All-In Consultancy’ to undertake research on the implementation of the framework, the principles and the change in staff practice. The report highly commended the approach and provided recommendations to further change and embed it into everyday working practices.

There are several outcomes that Simon Community Scotland anticipate they will be able to deliver:

● Staff in frontline services will be more skilled and confident in their ability to work effectively with people experiencing homelessness who feel deep social exclusion.

● Services and frontline staff will be able to adjust their approach and service systems to remove barriers experienced by those who find it difficult to use the services.

● Support is available to clients at risk of or experiencing homelessness, who have complex needs, through a multi-agency, person-centred approach designed for them to be able to use.

● Clients at risk of or experiencing homelessness are able to use services more effectively.


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Contact: Scott Crawford