• Chris Paul

Homelessness in Glasgow

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

In this reflective blog, I am aiming to capture my role within Man On! Inverclyde in relation to working against oppression to promote human rights, equality and social justice, whilst reflecting on the importance of creating inclusive environments. The main theme of this blog series has been to demonstrate why I believe the poverty gap will continue to widen during and after the pandemic and this feature will follow the same path but with a focus on homelessness within the city nearest to me, Glasgow.

Ledwith (2019) argues that homelessness is a result of the housing crisis that was first saw within our communities when the Thatcher-led government introduced the “right to buy” scheme, where good quality public housing was sold at minimal prices, with them all being lost as a public housing resource. Ledwith further argues that this triggered soaring housing prices, resulting in the aforementioned crises.

Maggie Brunjes, Chief Executive of the Homeless Network Scotland, advised “homelessness is an equalities issue – it does discriminate and the risk of it happening is not distributed equally among us. This pandemic and its aftermath will create the same conditions that create homelessness, while people already homeless will continue to be affected most.”

I felt alarmed by the reports in the media and how these conditions would be having such a detrimental impact on people’s mental health. I called a Man On! committee meeting to discuss what we could do as a service to support those who needed it most on World Homeless Day. As a team, we carried out community fundraising, appealing on social media to try and get funds to support those experiencing homelessness in Glasgow. Our appeal was successful and we managed to raise over £500. We purchased winter clothing, hot water bottles, non-perishable foods and items for people to stay safer such as torches and lights. We also submitted a social media clothing appeal and members of our community dropped of unwanted clothes that remained in a good condition.

On World Homeless Day, myself and another volunteer travelled to Glasgow and walked around the city centre, engaging with those living on the streets. We distributed the items we had and connected with people, talking to them about their life journey and sharing our journey in return to try and create inclusive environments to engage within. I felt it was important to connect with the people and ask their permission if they wanted to speak to us and engage with our items. We were invading their own personal space and I was very aware of this. It was a sobering experience and I viewed higher levels of deprivation and inequalities than I had anticipated seeing, with a severe lack of human rights being witnessed consistently.

Ledwith (2019) advised that the level of homelessness witness in our communities is at a level which violates human rights. This was supported by Alston (2018) who stated that “Austerity Britain” was in breach of four UN human rights agreements relating to women, children, disabled people and economic and social rights. The UK Government argued against Alston’s analysis, advising that income equalities had fallen and household income was at a record high. This was certainly not visible on the streets of Glasgow on our visit, nor is this evident in the communities that I work within.

Freire (1972) advised that “leaders who…insist on imposing their decisions, do not organise the people - they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.” This quote summarises my feelings on the subject and how the UK government play a key role in the oppression faced by those experiencing homelessness.

Whilst we have increasing numbers of our citizens living on the streets unsure if they will survive the winter, the rich continue to prosper thanks to their close links with those in power and the austerity policies administered by the UK government that have no apparent benefit other than to punish vulnerable social groups for their own poverty, whilst providing tax cuts and allowing tax avoidance for the rich.

Our trip to Glasgow may have helped people that weekend, however on the wider societal issue of homelessness it will make little impact. The poverty gap has never been wider and we must all do more to highlight this growing concern, including engaging with the potential Scottish Wellbeing Economy which advises of non-negotiable values such as "dignity" to ensure everyone has enough to live in comfort and "fairness" to ensure that the financial gap between the richest and poorest within society is greatly reduced.


Brünjes, M., 2020. Homeless Network Briefing. [online] Homeless Network. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 December 2020].

Freire, P., 1972. Pedagogy Of The Oppressed. 1st ed. New York: Herder and Herder, Chapter 4.

Ledwith, M. 2019. Community Development. A Critical and Radical Approach. 3rd Ed. United Kingdom. Policy Press n.d. Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 December 2020]. 2019. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 December 2020].

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