A LEADING homelessness charity is making a concerted effort to completely eliminate rough sleeping in Edinburgh, by providing bikes to its volunteer support teams, so they can see more people in any given period of time.
By Simon Community Scotland’s own estimations, rough sleeping in the capital is at an all-time low, and the charity is replicating a highly-successful Street Cycles model from its base in Glasgow to Edinburgh, after having recruited 12 volunteers to provide support to people at risk of, or currently, rough sleeping.
Help includes connecting people with services such as health and accommodation and providing basic essentials like food, clothing, telephones, sanitary products and, most importantly, showing that someone cares and that no-one should feel they are on their own.
The charity’s fundraising has allowed it to purchase eBikes and the move to add Edinburgh to the Glasgow bike service follows Simon Community Scotland chief executive, Lorraine McGrath, also becoming CEO of well-known Edinburgh homelessness charity, Streetwork.
The eBikes not only allow volunteers to see more people during any given time period but to extend their reach, beyond the city centre. The volunteers, who have all received dedicated training, come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including health, law, corporate finance, education and retail.
Training includes the administration of opioid antidote, Naloxone, and also CPR.
One of the volunteers is Jill Reilly. She first became involved with Streetwork during the COVID-19 lockdown, helping make meals in a hotel used in the city to accommodate people who were homeless.
She said: “The Naloxone training is a potential life-saver. But, more generally, getting to know people and to hear their stories, makes me realise why I got involved, as a volunteer, in the first place.
“I like walking, but I think I prefer cycling, and the bikes should allow me to see more people. The main thing, of course, is to help people find secure, if necessary supported, accommodation. When that happens, it feels like a real achievement.”
The charity is seeking to recruit more volunteers plus partners who can provide bike storage and maintenance facilities.
Said Hugh Hill, director of Services & Development, at Simon Community Scotland: “Edinburgh has seen a dramatic fall in people rough sleeping in the city.
“Streetwork, along with key Third Sector partners and The City of Edinburgh Council, have worked throughout the pandemic, supporting people into safe accommodation.
“We are determined to see that no-one ever has to sleep on our cities’ streets. Our brand-new cycle outreach service is powered not just by electric motors but, crucially, by our volunteers working hand in glove with Streetwork’s existing street outreach team.”
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Image caption: Street Cycles volunteers outside their base at Nicolson Square in Edinburgh.
Picture credit: Simon Community Scotland.
About Simon Community Scotland
Simon Community Scotland has been working alongside people who experience homelessness in Scotland since 1966.
It delivers around 170,000 hours of support every year and engages with up to 6,000 people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness. It operates a multi-partner Access Hub in Glasgow’s Argyle Street and provides emergency accommodation and support across Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and Perth.
For more information on Simon Community Scotland, please visit: http://www.simonscotland.org
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