Plea to help homeless

Borderers with spare rooms are being sought in an effort to help hundreds of local homeless under-25-year-olds.

Scottish Churches Housing Action (SCHA), the charity bringing together the country’s churches to help tackle homelessness issues, this week announced a search for hosts in the Borders for the innovative project aimed at young people.

Working with Scottish Borders Council, the organisation is looking for people who have a spare room, and are willing to host a young person for six to nine months at a time.

SCHA chief executive, Alastair Cameron, told The Southern: “Last year, over 200 people under 25 turned to Scottish Borders Council for help because they were homeless.

“We know there are others on the edge. The housing options are very limited; we’re seeking special people who will open their homes to a young person, and provide a bridge to independent living.”

Mr Cameron said for an area with the size of population of the Borders, last year’s figure of 228 young people aged under 25 who were deemed homeless was, in his opinion, high.

He said: “And for each of those individuals it is a major challenge. Of those 228 who were seeking help, 45 were in the 16/17-years age group.”

Mr Cameron stressed it is very much a joint initiative with SBC and if successful in the Borders, will look to be rolled out across Scotland.

And he added there were a variety of reasons why young people ended up homeless.

He said: “The key thing is poverty – that makes homlessness more likely to happen because there is less room for manoeuvre.”

Hosts will be trained, and will receive support from local authority staff. In addition to rent, an allowance is paid to offset costs and there will be criminal records checks and risk assessments carried out.

An SBC spokesperson told us the joint working initiative had been ongoing since 2011.

“The pilot project should be in a position to go live in the spring. In the first year of the project, the management and administration of the project will be undertaken by staff within the homeless prevention team and will thereafter be the subject of review,” he confirmed.