Cyrenians Arnotdale roundtable in response to the Housing Emergency

29 May 2024
Ewan Aitken Chief Executive Cyrenians and Lynda Ross-Hale Senior Justice and Inclusion Manager welcome partners to Cyrenians Community Learning Hub at Arnotdale House, Falkirk.

Earlier this month (May 2024) the Scottish Parliament formally declared a national “Housing Emergency”. Today, Cyrenians hosted a breakfast discussion to explore the challenges this poses for communities in and around Falkirk. It was hosted by Cyrenians Community Learning Hub, which offers justice, employability and outreach services from the historic building of Arnotdale House in the heart of Dollar Park.

Nationally, the latest national homelessness statistics, published in August 2023, recorded the highest number of households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness since recording began. In Falkirk these figures showed a 56 per cent increase in live homeless applications compared to the previous year. The number of households with children housed in temporary accommodation rose by two thirds.

The event was attended by representatives from local housing, justice, health, education and voluntary sector services, which all recognise the role they have to play in providing people with support before they reach crisis point and become homeless. There was also wide recognition that spending long periods of time in temporary accommodation has a detrimental impact on people’s mental health and capacity to engage with education and employment or move on from offending behaviour.

Lynda Ross Hale, Senior Justice and Inclusion Manager for Cyrenians in Falkirk said:

“Scotland is facing a national housing emergency. In Falkirk this is directly affecting the people we support and our communities and partners. If we really want to help people we must stop viewing the housing crisis as solely a housing problem and address the underlying reasons why people become homeless in the first place, like poverty, trauma and poor mental health. Today we wanted to spark a conversation that will lead to homelessness being fully understood across all sectors as a public health issue and play our part in building the resilience communities need  to reverse these very worrying trends.

"It was clear from this morning’s discussion that there is a shared concern across sectors that mental health, justice and education outcomes get worse not better when people are housed in temporary accommodation for long periods of time. People often face stigma and isolation when they need support the most. But there is lots of brilliant work happening in Falkirk. Cyrenians works in partnership to offer people support and opportunities to contribute to their community. We’re delighted so many of our partners could join us this morning."

In April 2024 Cyrenians launched a new three-year strategy, committing to a public health approach in its mission to tackle the causes and consequences of homelessness. In developing its new strategic plan, Cyrenians has reviewed its mission statement to more clearly define the areas in which it works: learning from lived experience; delivering targeted services which focus on prevention, early intervention and support into a home; and influencing changes in legislation and policy.