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World Homeless Day 2023: Steven’s story

Posted: October 11, 2023

Yesterday was World Homeless Day, a campaign highlighting the issues faced by people without a permanent home in our communities.

Throughout the week we have been sharing interviews with people who access our homeless support services in Edinburgh.

Today we hear from Steven* from our Oxgangs Street supported accommodation service who tells us about his experience of becoming homeless and how it affected his health.

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

1) Can you please share some of the background to you becoming homeless?

I initially became homeless due to mental health issues, this led to problematic drug and alcohol use. This resulted in my relationship breaking down, which led to me becoming homeless. I’ve been homeless for two years overall.

 2) How has becoming homeless affected you, both mentally and physically?

It has taken its toll on me. It’s difficult when you don’t know where to go, or who to turn to when you first become homeless. When you are experiencing homelessness, it’s like you can’t see a way out.

 3) What has been your experience of the homeless ‘system’, and what do you think is missing?

I’ve had generally good experiences when presenting to City of Edinburgh Council. However, I do think the homeless system could be made much better. When I first became homeless, I had to go to the council office every day for a week, before they found me a place at Oxgangs. As I had no money, I had to walk long distances to reach the office, I sat for hours in the office only to be told that there was nowhere for me and I had to return to the Hub I was sleeping in. The system could be improved so that people didn’t have to walk for miles only to be told there was no place for them. Also, no information about Oxgangs was given when I accepted the room there.

I have stayed in some of the B&Bs, some of them don’t have cooking facilities, meaning I had to eat on the go. This is very expensive and doesn’t encourage healthy eating, which has an impact on physical health.

 4) How has your experience been in using one of the Hillcrest Futures services? Have the staff here supported you in any of the challenges that you have faced while experiencing homelessness?

This place is great. The staff have provided very good support. I didn’t know anything about Oxgangs/Hillcrest but I’m glad I accepted the room here. I think it’s amazing.

 To find out more about our homeless support services, click here.