While a strategic and policy framework already exists to support and assist vulnerable individuals in Glasgow, it was deemed necessary to develop a more robust city-wide response to address specific concerns over street begging.
In partnership with a wide range of stakeholders including third sector organisations and the local business community, Glasgow City Council (GCC) formed a Working Group dedicated to establishing a Begging Strategy for the city. Given the complex nature of the issues associated with begging, the cross-sector makeup of the working group is intended to facilitate an integrated approach which connects support services from different sectors and agencies.
Following extensive stakeholder engagement, public consultation, and being informed by individuals with lived experience, the Glasgow Begging Strategy (GBS) and Action Plan was formally approved by Committee in March 2021. Though the current strategic document represents the culmination of the work undertaken to date, it is expected that the GBS will continue to evolve through a process of ongoing monitoring and evaluation during its initial five-year life-cycle.
Three strategic objectives were identified for the GBS:
As a result, the following four key projects were identified by the Working Group:
The GBS is a collective and collaborative effort. Chaired by Councillor Allan Casey, the Working Group consisted of a wide range of public sector agencies, third sector groups and private businesses and business networks, including: Big Issue, British Transport Police (BTP), City Centre Retailers Association, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP), Glasgow City Mission, Homeless Network Scotland, Marie Trust, National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Police Scotland, Simon Community Scotland and Turning Point Scotland.
The same members continue to be involved as active project partners and now form the project Steering Group as part of the governance structure. Furthermore, the involvement of people with lived (or personal) experience of street begging will remain a key component throughout GBS delivery.
Managed by Simon Community Scotland, and formally launched in March 2020, SCG now has two public donation points in Central Station. However, further city centre venues are anticipated and will continue to be explored with project partners.
This initiative offers the public an alternative to on-street donations - a kindness which may only help the recipient in the short term. Instead SCG is intended to provide more sustained support and help vulnerable people improve their lives long-term.
Payments are administered by Simon Community Scotland's Street Team (a GCHSCP commissioned service who work with people on the streets) and made directly to those in need.
Financial and Digital Inclusion Services
Funded by Glasgow City Council and Simon Community Scotland, this activity commenced in 2018 and remains ongoing. The Financial and Digital Inclusion Services Key Project seeks to ensure that vulnerable citizens have access to their maximum benefit entitlement whilst also aiding with eligibility for access to other key services including employment, housing, skills, training development and any other relevant support.
The Environmental Strategy Key Project is about how the city can best utilise and increase available public space and ensure that it is used positively, encouraging local stakeholder and community action, and aligning with other strategic streetscape improvement plans such as the Avenues programme, and the District Regeneration Frameworks.
Police Scotland's Secured by Design initiative highlights just how the built landscape can influence the risk of crime and anti-social behaviour. By seeking to increase everyone's safety, we can best protect those who find themselves on the streets and who are far more likely to be victims of abuse, violence and other criminal activity.
This workstream is tasked with altering perceptions associated with street begging. By raising awareness of the challenges which vulnerable people face, it is intended to address preconceptions and misunderstandings sometimes held by members of the public. Through clear messaging people can become more informed of the complex issues involved, the support service networks which are available, and the ways in which anyone can help deliver meaningful social change.
Housing First enables people to be rapidly rehoused in independent tenancies in the community, with no need to go through the traditional housing programme. Individuals receive support with settling into their new home and community. Assistance is also provided for day-to-day tasks, money management, and links with recovery networks and support services in their area. Housing First supports people towards sustaining a permanent tenancy.
GCHSCP work with the Housing First Consortium Glasgow (a joint partnership between Turning Point Scotland, Simon Community Scotland, Salvation Army and Loretto Care) to deliver Housing First.
This strategy aims to prevent homelessness wherever possible, by providing access to good quality advice, assistance and support. Where an individual does become homeless, it provides access to emergency, temporary and settled accommodation with appropriate support to meet their specific needs.
For more information and further updates on the work being carried out as part of the Glasgow Begging Strategy, please visit the City Centre Strategy.
Enquiries about the GBS can be submitted here: firstname.lastname@example.org