Some Problems with Sleep in the Park

This year, once again, we’re going to “solve homelessness forever” according to the social enterprise Social Bite.

The problem is of course that we were going to solve it forever last year as well.

The model of a mass sleep out promises “4 cities, one night, 12,000 people under the stars”.

What’s not to like?

The project has a tremendous amount of goodwill, and it’s difficult to question its mixture of ambition, innovation and drive for social justice. I wouldn’t doubt anyone’s integrity or good intention from within the organisation, nor would I doubt that they have done a tremendous amount of good in their time.

But the project does raise some serious questions about social enterprise and social policy in Scotland that need addressed.

Despite the very many positives about the Social Bite original concept: give people an opportunity for food, training and employment, and highlight homelessness whilst increasing solidarity, the project now seems to be suffering from over-reach.

The Sleep Out projects seem mired in celebrity culture, confusing political solidarity with a pop festival and blurring the lines between having a good time and addressing serious social crisis. What many people are concluding is that we don’t need a bedtime story, a pop star, or John Cleese, we need a public housing programme. Not ‘affordable housing’, not ‘mid market rents’ but a proper solid housing policy, and this needs to be met with real jobs with real pay.

Further to that we need urgently to regulate and reform the private rental market which is dangerously and recklessly out of control, so that a minority of people who already own their own homes, own other property which they rent out at exorbitant rates. This is a national scandal and a disgrace. And it is a scandal and a disgrace that affects overwhelmingly the younger generation.

Homelessness and the wider housing crisis are part of a continuum and along that continuum lies economic precarity, uncertainty and low-pay. It can’t be fixed overnight and it can’t be fixed with a sleep out.

The system inoculate’s itself against change, and this is why the system adores Social Bite.

What we need is systemic change, not more celebrity culture.

While George Clooney and Leonard Di Caprio are great for raising the profile of Social Bite, it does seem that the enterprise inevitably gets into as game where soft media coverage is a metric of success, rather than dealing with hard intractable social realities. Some people are making a lot of money off the housing market – and this is the uncomfortable reality that needs to be confronted.

Corporate Culture

If the showbiz culture and obsession with media profile sits uncomfortably with efforts to sort the housing and homeless crisis, so to does the idea of a campaign that gives a platform for companies to virtue signal their CEO’s benevolence.

Social Bite’s corporate supporters pages feature Shell, Hilton, Barclays, Gleneagles, Marriott and RBS amongst the others jostling for attention.

No doubt well-intentioned the top managers are encouraged to vie against each other in a Fundraiser League Table.

The companies are given various incentives to raise funds.

These include: “Social Bite Co-Founder to come into your office/workplace to say thank you to staff. Josh also to give a personal tour of Social Bite village”, special VIP seats and hampers, or even, extraordinarily “A house named after them or someone of their choice in The Social Bite Village.”

How would that feel – you are long-term homeless but you’re soon to be put up in a wooden house with the Hilton logo on it?

This feels bizarre and distasteful and vaguely dystopian, confusing endemic social crisis with marketing opportunity and human solidarity with entertainment.

If the managers and staff of big corporations want to feel better about themselves or find some salve to their existential crisis, maybe they should just leave and get a job doing something useful?

Champions

The secondary issue here is how we appear to need media champions and how social enterprise becomes obsessed with a handful of figures.

The model that then gets held up to be copied and celebrated is one of ‘glory-leaders.’

This cult of the personality feeds the idea that our serious socio-ecological crisis can be solved just by Great Individuals. For food, we bring on Jamie Oliver, a tv chef. For starvation we bring on Bono. David Attenborough has plastics covered because we all watched it on the Blue Planet.

It’s a form of infantilism.

It’s not anyone’s fault that we are in this situation but we need to be alive to the deeper issues here.

Homelessness will not be solved by just raising money from private donors any more than we can fix the NHS or under-funded schools by a jumble sale.

There are lots of positive things about Social Bite.

The way it has raised the profile of the homelessness crisis. The way it created a new model in the cafe’s for work and training.

But some of it smacks of a throwback to an old era of philanthropy.

Josh Littlejohn’s idealism and ambition are admirable, so too is his dynamism. But there is a feeling that once someone is in the spotlight they are untouchable, and each idea they have is a miracle.

The cult of personality morphs gently into celebrity culture. One interview compared Littlejohn spiritually and physically to Che Guevara.

Questions about the viability and strategy of the Social Bite village abound. Is it not going to create a ghetto of people with a range of personal problems – and do we really want to be isolating people rather than integrating them into society? Are tiny wooden houses a clever innovation or a gimmick?

How does any of this get to the root of the housing and homeless crisis?

Maybe these doubts are unfounded and the world of corporate social responsibility will unlock enough resources to solve homelessness forever.

I really hope so but that company logo just doesn’t seem right.

Comments (45)

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  1. Jo says:

    I really respect Social Bite and its aims. Providing shelter, heat and support for those who have disengaged from society is vital. I’m glad the model is in the form of a village so that there’s support on site as it were. Talking about “integration” is all very well but an accurate description of “society” these days is anything but attractive. In some places society is a brutal and merciless place where the vulnerable are anything but safe.

    On private lets, some of us saw this coming some time back when the Buy To Let market took off with the blessing of the two main UK Parties. A new industry was born and the building of houses for rent effectively stopped. This obscene development wrecked lives in Scotland just as much as anywhere else in the UK.

    I do not know what the answer is but I hope SB will continue with its work. (Your point about turning such a desperate problem into an excuse for a music gig is valid Mike. Totally agree there. If those doing the sleepouts think they are remotely experiencing homelessness by participating in one night only, they’re deluded.)

  2. Colin Campbell says:

    Hard to disagree with much in this article but I am going to take exception to the point on Private Landlords and their ‘exorbitant’ rents.
    I am getting fed up with Landlords (yes I’m one of them) being tarred with one brush and blamed for everything that is wrong in our housing issues.
    If there was enough affordable social housing then those needing and wanting low cost housing would have it available to them
    People are entitled to choice – if they want a house in a particular area and only private landlords are renting there – that is their right to choose.
    And lastly (and definitely not a plea for sympathy) the way that the Tory Government is taxing private landlords is fast forcing many land lords to think again and sell up. You can be sure this will happen at a much faster pace than the building of affordable homes – and just watch the housing problems getting worse as a result – most definitely not better!!

    1. Jo says:

      Oh come on Colin! How stupid do you think people are?

      Private lets are specifically around to make a profit. It’s what the BTL industry is all about. And the reason it took off was because the building of homes for rent came to a standstill. Many folk have turned the whole obscene racket into a lucrative business with significant portfolios being put together which generate a very tidy sum indeed. Main aim? To get the maximum rent from each property so that there’s a juicy profit left on each one once the mortgage on it has been paid.

      The BTL industry spawned another racket. Drawing in people who were close to losing their homes, buying the homes (for the lowest price) and re-letting it to the former owner. All for a fee of course! And, yes, a tidy sum of rent.

      You are being disingenuous when you speak about choice. Councils virtually stopped building houses Colin. That’s how the BTL industry was born. Choice pretty much vanished.

      1. Colin Campbell says:

        How long is since people were allowed to buy their council house? A long time ago yet councils and government have done nothing to re-enter create the housing stock.
        I am not being disingenuous, niave or anything else.
        I completely agree that some people do not have a choice but many do.
        Speaking only for myself and considering myself lucky to be able to, I invested my hard earned cash to invest in my future because I could not count on any government doing it for me.
        Personally I think the country is in a mess – not just housing. The people you accuse of building huge portfolios of properties are a different breed and not one that I and many others are part off.
        I don’t need to justify myself and I certainly don’t need to take responsibility for how successive governments have neglected to invest in housing!

    2. The idea that there is a ‘right to choose’ in private rentals is joust absurd and offensive. You must be in some bubble to think otherwise.

      I can give thousands of examples – as readers can – but you dont really need that do you?

      1. Colin Campbell says:

        Dear Bella Caledonia Editor,
        Clearly in a different bubble from you.
        My bubble involves providing decent housing – for 1 Tenant in 1 flat at a reasonable rent and making a modest profit. If I ever sell it the tenant will get first choice. Making sure that if things go wrong they are fixed quickly – a lot quicker that Glasgow Housing Association do.
        When I’m not doing that the other bubble I’m in is volunteering with a homeless charity. There is no better way to appreciate how fortunate most of us are.
        Social Bite does great work but unfortunately it is also absolving government and councils of their responsibilities.

    3. Darby O'Gill says:

      If landlords were forced to sell up would that not lead to a glut on the housing market and consequently lower house prices and lower rents.

      1. Colin Campbell says:

        No

  3. Josef Ó Luain says:

    An exemplary filleting job, Mike. Thanks. Homeless people need affordable, good-quality housing; that’s never going to change.

  4. Pogliaghi says:

    The social enterprise approach to social provision is simply another facet of the praxis of Cameron’s Big Society, which is itself the culmination of Thatcherism including Thatcherite public relations. Let the “third sector” “take up the slack.” The housing market is flagrant debt slavery but oh well, we have Charidee for the homeless. The relentless realization of homelessness’s branding potential has become normalized since the 1990s. There was an awareness then that developments like the Big Issue were something real socialists were intensely cynical about. Well, all that has gone, and it was massaged away through the magic of clientelism. There’s so much funding available for middle class types who know how to fill in funding applications, and that goes a long way to achieve buy in.

  5. Margaret Baluta says:

    So let’s all do nothing then? Yea?

    Analysis and critical of anything and anyone who try’s to ignite change!!

    If you are but part of the CHANGE, you are part of the problem.

    This is a start, quit the critic and get out there and help. YOU MISERABLE LOT IF ARMCHAIRS.

    A little bit of something makes a whole lot of everything

    Well done the organisers

    To the rest of you! GET A LIFE with less criticism and more activism that actually makes a difference

    Don’t bother replying with a negative! NOT INTETESTED

  6. SleepingDog says:

    Housing is a lot more complicated than house-building, but there’s surely sweet spots between something like anarchist Colin Ward’s self-builds, and industrialized prefabrication, which includes standard parts, quality assurance, sustainable materials and modular components. Come to think of it, the success of LEGO® didn’t require a human face at all. And IBM’s PC specification (and all the related standards like memory cards and peripheral connectors) supported industrial mass production, online user-configuration, local shop commissions and hobbyist self-build. BBC Click today showcased a vehicle made largely out of interlocking shapes made from recycled plastic. Maybe the Chinese have something modular in mind for their Moon station. The Open Hardware movement might be your best bet.

    1. Wul says:

      SD, our homelessness and housing problems are NOT caused by any difficulties in figuring out how to construct a house. We already have very efficient, affordable, simple and well understood methods of building homes. House construction is cheap as chips. The plain, ordinary, highly evolved, method of timber-frame construction (“stick building” in U.S. parlance) makes putting up a warm, dry, comfortable and affordable house a piece of piss. I know, because I did it myself.

      The problem we have is that all land for building on in the UK is traded as a high-profit commodity by speculative developers, “entrepreneurs” and a rentier class who put a turnpike in front of the very thing that every human being needs; a roof over their head. If you want a home in this country there’s an endless queue of professional parasites with their hand out, waiting to empty your purse.

      Just think about it for a minute. How come a couple of lorry loads of building materials and a 30m x 30m patch of dirt can take even a well paid professional 20 + years to pay for? Something doesn’t add up.

      It really, really annoys me when “technical innovation” is touted as a potential solution to our housing problems. It’s a smokescreen. We already know how to build houses, and we are surrounded by empty land. Get real.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Wul, that’s what I meant when I said housing was more complicated than house-building. However, I doubt your timber-framed models are going to be much use when Scotland becomes a hurricane zone. Technology can help with more than just house design, it can integrate facilities like power generation and water recovery into modular systems for example. There is an increasing interest in energy conservation methods and AI designs that give maximum strength with minimum materials. There is a global conflict going on between privatised intellectual property and the open source movement/global science which is relevant to housing and householders, even if the implications are sometimes hidden. For example, there is a lot of space research on modular habitats and maximizing resource efficiency that increasingly happens in the for-profit sector. From the anarchist point of view, planning restrictions are perhaps still a bone of contention.

        And there is a long way from a house to a sustainable community with robust and resilient facilities. Even if, as you say, land is available.

        1. Wul says:

          All good points SD. Sorry if my post sounded a bit abrasive, didn’t mean it that way.

          Yes, good technology can solve a lot of housing, heating & weather-proofing problems. The big problem is we need to start organising our country as if people matter more than a quick profit for the few. Once that step is taken the opportunities become endless and human creativity and community spirit can blossom.

  7. John Monro says:

    Interesting article, thank you. Living in New Zealand I’ve never heard of “Sleep in the Park” nor “Social Bite”. But your article hits the nail on the head expertly. I have exactly the same feelings of frustration and not a little anger with this idea that well intentioned activism like this will make any substantial difference to this problem (and the many other serious social issues under this neoliberal capitalist ideology that runs our society presently). This is not to demean such activism, no-one can begrudge others’ charity, but the result is a social disconnect and abrogation of wider societal responsibility. How many of Social Bite’s wealthier supporters for instance, including George Clooney, would welcome the needed tax changes to provide the funds for dealing with this matter properly? There are some fundamental rights that any humane and competent government should be ensuring for its citizens – that’s a clean, warm and affordable home for everyone, clean water, a nutritious diet, humane policing, free health care, a fair benefits system, sufficient pension, a sound education and a worthwhile job paying sufficient for all one’s needs plus a bit extra to oil the wheels of the local economy. I would also suggest that inequality in society is also a serious issue, perhaps even the most; it’s a poison to a well functioning, ordered, prosperous and happy society. Scotland’s Gini index has recently risen to 34, generally the figure is between 30-34. (NZ’s is 33. We are not the “egalitarian” little country we like to think we are) Nordic countries have a Gini around 25, and that’s what Scotland’s governments need to be aiming for. The effort by the well intentioned to fill the gaps that governments deliberately create is both futile, and could even be letting the government off the hook by suggesting that such action, by itself, might be effective. The housing “market” in countries where property prices are inflated, and rents are unaffordable and people are homeless or living in overcrowded or substandard accommodation is a market that isn’t bluddy well working, indeed the idea that one could rely on a “market” to solve such serious social issues in the first place is bizarre.

    By the sound of it, New Zealand has much the same sort of problem, vastly overpriced housing (second highest in the OECD) and lack of accommodation for the less well off, serious homelessness, especially in the racial minorities, and the likelihood that most ordinary youngsters, many with student debt, will be ever be able to afford to buy a home, seen as such a virtue by Thatcherites yet those very same policies severely distorting the housing market and making home ownership impossible for many otherwise virtuous citizens. Seriously compounding the problem in NZ is the historically high numbers of people immigrating each year, an effective 60,000 p.a., and NZ’s population of near 5 million is very similar to Scotland’s. Our growth rate of over 2% p.a. is a third world number. (Be careful what you wish for, a certain amount of immigration may well boost an economy, but these sorts of numbers are distorting many areas of social policy, housing obviously but also health, education, transport etc.) We now have a Labour led coalition that is attempting to address homelessness and the distorted housing market, with a promise to build 100,000 “affordable homes” in the next ten years. And there’s the rub, less action to build new rental accommodation and no effective action to stop this buy to let racket which is just as rampant here or bring a tax regime that discourages this. NZ doesn’t even have any capital gains tax, this is such a political hot potato, no government, even Labour ones, have been keen to tackle it and our top rate of income tax is 33%.

    Finally, the idea that corporate responsibility will ever “unlock enough resources” to deal with any social ill is risible. Perhaps if they welcomed or requested tax changes that ensured they paid their fair share of tax to start with or their CEOs volunteered in raising their income taxes, then this might be a start. But business is business, they are have no social responsibility other than an immediate one to deal with any that might adversely affect their profits, otherwise such efforts are always just a part of a carefully cultivated business identity, and could usefully be considered just another of their tax deductible advertising expenses.

    1. John Monro says:

      I’m “replying” to my own effort. Just to add, to make it perfectly clear, I was not meaning to be in any way churlish about the efforts of others in such charitable endeavours. Their positivity, enthusiasm and sheer “get on and do something” is obviously a matter to applaud, and it’s easy to sit by one’s computer and make big generalisations about such efforts. I have subsequently read those posting pointing all this out, and those opinions are a useful reminder of all this, thanks for that. Indeed, who am I to knock compassion and awareness. Well put.

      Perhaps such efforts will bring about change. Certainly for those helped directly, they’ll be very grateful, I’m sure. But surely the problem is rather deeper than such efforts will ever counter? We’ve had years and years of various charitable schemes, with much publicity for a while, engendering just this sort of enthusiasm, but the results are not generally long lived. If we continue to allow politicians to appeal to our meaner selves, and we continue to vote for politicians who really don’t give these dire social issues the resources needed to deal with them, including increasing taxation on the well off, then no amount of charitable work will counter this neglect. In particular, all countries need to retreat from the right wing ideology that presently straitjackets them, and accept that socialism is not a dirty word; that the application of socialist principles where they are needed are the only solution to these intractable issues. The excuse from capitalists that you have to earn the wealth first is a cop-out; firstly, Scotland is more than wealthy enough already to do what’s required, and secondly, when one of the world’s wealthiest countries, the USA, miserably fails its duties to its poorer citizens, then you know that wealth alone does not create the necessary will to deal with these issues.

      1. Colin Campbell says:

        Hi all great comments particularly on Socialism. The sad thing is that our supposedly ‘socialist’ political party in the UK seems to have lost its way. It doesn’t know what it represents any more and often it’s hard to spot the difference between them and the Conservatives.

  8. Chris White says:

    There is no doubt that this event has helped to highlight the plight of homeless folk in Scotland. That can only be for the good.
    The fact that the event was media/celebrity driven is both a blessing and a curse. Those sleeping on the streets often don’t have the benefit of quality sleeping gear or nightly entertainment. And, it’s for more than a night.
    It’s great that so many people gave of their time and talent for free. It would be ridiculous to suggest otherwise. But the event website looked like a glossy promo poster. All pretty and sparkly and colourful.
    I really didn’t need info on the entertainers who were appearing or their albums. All in all though, I hope the event reaps a harvest of hope for the homeless. All the best. Chris.

  9. Fiona says:

    I was of the same opinion last year, with the feeling that it wasn’t realistic with the entertainment etc, but saw and heard from the actual people who’ve benefitted that yes it will make a difference, ok maybe not to the whole of Scotlands problem, but it’s a start so attended this year in Glasgow. We made made light of our evening but It was a very sobering experience. OK we had entertainment in the evening which was great for the artists to give their time, but could have done without. The real reason we were there was to experience sleeping out under the stars, and yes we did see stars at times, thankfully no wind and rain but it did get very cold early hours in the morning!

    The difference was we had it easy, yes you heard right, with plastic survival bags to stay dry, toilets to hand when nature calls, people to chat to when you can’t sleep, situated within a safe and secure area with people watching over us, a warming tent with teas & coffees when we get too cold plus we get to go home afterwards to a nice warm bath and bed. None of these things our rough sleeping homeless have and they endure this night in night out, how they do it I don’t know. This was an experience to remember but probably never to repeat unless it actually happens to me!

    Did you know our rough sleepers are only a very small percentage of homelessness in Scotland, as many manage to get shelter but this still isn’t a home! It was very humbling to hear stories from many of the young kids, teenagers and adults who’ve found themselves in this situation, but have been helped by Social Bite to help move their lives forward to a better future. We were happy with our not so realistic effort to put ourselves in their shoes, it’s heartwarming to know that our efforts are making a difference to some lives a small sacrifice to make. You can’t please everybody all of the time, for me the main aim to sleep out was to get a taste what it feels like and to raise awareness and hear from real people as only they can tell it as it is .

    1. Thanks Fiona – good to here your experience.

    2. Chris White says:

      Hi Fiona. You nailed it. Great comment.

  10. Wul says:

    Good article Mike.

    Thank you for tackling our infantile need to turn even our most serious social issues into part of the “spectacle”. Brave of you to raise concerns about this type of event which is popularly seen as “great charity work”.

    I, too have a problem with this type of approach to grave social issues. It can create an impression that everything is basically O.K. and a few unfortunates just need a wee boost (from a celebrity) to get them back on track. In fact our society is imploding. I’m finding it increasingly distressing to visit Glasgow city centre and see so many of my fellow citizens homeless and sleeping rough. It makes me very sad and, later, very angry.

    I eat in the Social Bite whenever I can. They do good work.

    1. Alex Wright says:

      My oldest grandson (22) took part in this , “It’s about dignity, or the lack off” he explained to me, while I was asked to sponsor him.
      Who am I to knock his compassion and awareness, because I feel that this event has been hijacked?
      To know that he has the empathy to care about his fellow citizens overrides any concerns that I may have.

      1. Wul says:

        Aye Alex you are right. First and most important is to care. And then do something.

  11. Angus says:

    Full marks for effort on behalf of the founder and cafe but the sleep in the park is nonsense.

    Why not just give your money quietly to charity.

    My Facebook face was filled with attention hores boasting how they had been ‘homeless’ for the night and now had real empathy. It’s for the completely vapid.

    1. Chris says:

      It’s a shame people on your feed felt this gave them a realistic experience of being homeless. I took part, not for the entertainment or to claim I was homeless for the night, but to provide a catalyst for conversation and donation. View it how you will, but people don’t ordinarily donate large sums to charities (at least not those I know) and events like this encourage donations beyond a few pence in a box.

      By sleeping outside in safe, secure areas, we weren’t experiencing homelessness. But we were raising awareness of the issue and raising money to help people at the same time. I’m not filled with grand ideas that we will end homelessness through events like this, but the many stories from people socialbite have worked with clearly demonstrate that it does help.

      Yes, we need more drive from everywhere. But I do truly believe this was not about an ego boost or delusions of experiencing homelessness for many.

    2. Trebor le Grande says:

      They and their fellow participants over this years event and last have raised something like £8m to contribute to The Housing First project. What did you do recently that made you feel proud?

  12. Williw says:

    The issue of an inadequate supply of housing goes back to Thatcher before being carried on by Tony Blair and new labour.

    If there is a shortage of anything prices go up. And so by choking off housing this has the effect of raising prices. This is good for developers. It is good for holders of land with planning permission.

    It is good for the banks to because with asset prices up the banks are able to create huge lending books. It also appears good to the people comfortable in their thirty year house now worth many times more that what they paid for it. Indeed one cannot think of a better way to create wealth out of thin air than to double bubble the asset price.

    But there is a downside. Overlending on double bubbled assets nearly broke the banks. It also empoversishes the vast majority of folks folks who have no choice but to take on mortgages on over priced houses. And for those on limited incomes, well with no chance of being able to secure or afford a mortgage, they are left to afford the unaffordable private rents, which rents of themselves have roots in over bubbled property and finance costs.

    But this is the housing policy of the UK, and it doesn’t take Einstein to work out why an adequate supply of affordable rent social housing is not being built. What Government in the current climate would allow propert prices to fall. Crikey, they’d see folks go homeless before they would let that happen. Thatcher was indeed a visionary to which New Labour then bought into thereafter.

    But if we are to ever re-dress the mess that is housing in this country, government needs to step in to supply affordable housing – be it affordable to buy, or affordable to rent. Unless and until this is done, housing will continue as it is.

    But do people want affordable houses, or are we ,despite what many say to the contrary, ipso facto Tories, living the property dream.

    1. Ian S says:

      Hi Williw,

      You raise a very interesting question there about human nature and fear and being just well enough off (‘just about thriving’?? to misuse a borrowed phrase) to be scared of losing what one has.

      If Tory ‘values’ can be said to represent anything to anyone except the rich and venal I believe that’s the fear they appeal to in the ‘orderinary’ punter – the constant fear that you will end up like those ‘other ones’ below you in the social scale. To have lost everything you have invested in (both financially and morally speaking). Who wants to feel like a fool for buying into the madness just to put a roof over their head? Far better to keep the problem in place, for everyone’s peace of mind.

      If housing was truly affordable, like I mean a reasonable cost, a huge amount of fear and insecurity would be removed from society at a stroke. Yet we’re conditioned to believe that the housing market bubble is a good thing. Maybe in fact it is – I’m not anywhere near knowledgeable enough to understand the economy or how it works. Maybe the whole thing is built on this house of cards (In fact, I know just about enough about Capitalism to believe that is the case). But in that case, the whole thing is insanity, based on a theory of infinite growth in a finite world. So which is scarier, continuing on or forcing change. The uncertainty alone is enough to force most into denial (me included).

      I think you’re right that the majority have no choice. It was cheaper for me to buy than to rent. I was able to do so because I was fortunate enough that I had enough money for a deposit.

      I don’t feel that’s right. I genuinely would wish to see truly affordable housing. As well as homelessness there are other areas of national health that could be improved, for example, freeing people to choose jobs based on their desire to do a job rather than being forced to pay the bills. There’s a huge social benefit to that. And a tie in with the idea of a guaranteed income.

      But, the system we have seems to rely heavily on the housing ‘market’ and its exploitation of base human needs. I just can’t see that system giving up its own power voluntarily. Luckily things can change for the better but I really am starting to wonder if its going to take a catastrophic crash to get there. I think that’s most likely.

      Best wishes.

  13. Darby O'Gill says:

    Is anyone old enough to remember the Scottish Special Housing Association? They built over 75,000 homes for rent throughout Scotland and pioneered new ideas in design and construction. Maybe we need to revive something like that.

    1. Colin Campbell says:

      I remember them and yes that’s a great idea:)

    2. Willie says:

      Yes, I too remember the Scottish Special Housing Association, and yes, they built some very good and much needed houses

      The problem now however is that if the state intervened to provide much needed housing it would reduce the demand shortage

      This could, and would, reduce the house price bubble, and a policy that could never be acceptable under current governance.

      Far better if the majority of folks spend a fortune of their income paying a huge mortgage on over bubbled property prices, than spending their income on other more effective economic stimulus.

      But hey, diverting folks income to the servicing of debt to fund the purchase of overinflated housing as opposed to widening economic activity and output is secondary to funding debt

      Yes. Who cares if people are on the streets homeless, or are paying through the nose.

      We’re all Tories now, well at least many of us, if we own our property.

    3. Hamish Kirk says:

      SSHA gousing stock was transferred in “THE GREAT STOCK TRANSFER” ro a variety of “Social Lanlords” including Housung Associations like the one which is my landlord – Fyne Homes.

  14. Hamish Kirk says:

    Live Aid did nothing for Ethiopia but made a career for a certain foul-mouthed Dubliner This “Sleep Out” will not solve the problem of homelessness

    1. Trebor le Grande says:

      This sleepout is doing a lot more than you know about.

  15. Rachel says:

    ‘Deeds Not Words’.

  16. Erik says:

    The whole thing seemed a bit ironic given the number of people living adjacent to the park (who aren’t homeless, and pay rent) living in cold flats. The whole area is crumbling down as private landlords run riot. Where is the regulation on these pirates?

    Taking people’s money for mice–ridden pits that are impossible to heat due to poor glazing, and poor ventilation that either causes dampness or pneumonia–inducing–like illnesses.

  17. Darby O'Gill says:

    “Josh Littlejohn’s idealism and ambition are admirable, so too is his dynamism.” Hear, hear! Every movement has to start somewhere, and has to be promoted to bring it to public attention. Josh Littlejohn has more than done his bit. Its now up to the public/electorate. The outrageous scandal of homelessness in 21st Century Scotland brings shame on us all, and can only be solved by policy and investment at national level. That can only come from taxation. Perhaps its time to tax those who gain most from the distorted private rental sector and the vast amounts of capital lying dormant in certain bank accounts.

  18. Hayley says:

    I am equally as passionate about change and social good. From my objective view and the facts – social bite has changed homelessness at a government level through their work with mps, social work and mental health experts. Scottish government has changed policy and funding due to SocialBite’s consistent message that raising the profile is not the answer- systematic change is (exactly what you are arguing). Josh Littlejohn is far from untouchable- he spoke at an event in Glasgow and also stayed to speak to atendees afterwards. Have a look at SNPs plans to support homelessness next year and beyond by committing millions of pounds to reduce need for hostels and move towards home ownership all progress assisted by SocialBites ambition to end the issue altogether.

    1. “He spoke at an event in Glasgow and also stayed to speak to atendees afterwards.”

      Wow.

      1. Jim Bennett says:

        Bella, do we really need this snarky shit? How about the next time you publish an article on mental health and extol the virtues of respectful dialogue, you maybe take a moment to think about how you engage with contributors?

  19. Hamish Kirk says:

    We need more hosuing I am a tenant in a Housing Association house and sit on the board of the same housing association on the Isle of Bute. Scot Gov is spending on “Social HGosuing” but we need a much bigger programme and a shift in our thinking from Thatcherite Home Ownership. Reliance on mortgages and an emphasis on buying a house as an investment for retirement has to be rethought. In Germany, France and the Benelux people invewst differently for retirement. What Tom Nairn described as “English Insularity” prevents us from seeing what a nonsensical eceonomic system has developed here!

  20. Gordon MacRae says:

    Homelessness is not all about rough sleeping and rough sleeping is often about a lot more than house. Whilst we should never condemn anyone for bringing attention to this problem, and the day to day work of Social Bite is making a real difference to the job prospects of many people, the Sleep Out is a fundraising stunt not an exercise in empathy.

    If you want to make a little difference get active in projects like StreetCare https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/streetcare-volunteers-jan-mar-tickets-53342353415?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

    If you want to make a big difference, make land ownership and value central to your political priorities.

  21. Trebor le Grande says:

    The Social Bite village is a bit of a show pony. It’s run well and offers a short term solution, much like Food Banks. I believe the bulk of the cash raised is going towards ‘Housing First’ which is a much more holistic approach to tackling homelessness and very much out of view of the MSM.

    https://news.gov.scot/news/housing-first

    For this, Josh and his team deserve real praise and perhaps this will inspire some confidence to combat the doubts in the article. As for celebrities – they bring in the cash.

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