How can we challenge a poverty of expectation?

By David Meiklejohn

Chief Executive of Turning Point Scotland Martin Cawley today described the problems surrounding homeless people in Glasgow as “a poverty of expectation” at the final day of the 2014 INSP Conference.

“The city of Glasgow has some quite complex issues within its boundaries, and with those issues comes complex problems. With these, people lose their sense of expectation, and it becomes a way of life.

“People can feel helpless, there can be a poverty of expectation.”

Cawley offered hope from the ‘Housing First’ model, which can work to end the cycle of this self-fulfilling prophecy.

Housing First Glasgow provides mainstream social housing and 24 hour
support to individuals who are homeless, aged 18 or over and involved
in drug misuse.

“A home gives us a sense of identity, and a sense of hope that life can be better, that life can be better tomorrow than it was today,” said Cawley.

The programme resulted in 85% of the homeless people helped managing to sustain their tenancies.

Rates for similar programmes internationally are consistently high in Europe and North America.

Joined by a panel of street paper distributors, Cawley’s message of inclusion chimed with Editor-in-Chief of Greek magazine Shedia Chris Alefantis contention that that a sense of belonging is just as important as pay for their vendors in Athens.

“They all focus on self-esteem and how this process helps them to be visible, to fit in,” he said.

Meanwhile, Karin Lohr, Managing Director of German paper Biss said their vendors were primarily interested in the income from selling the paper.

“I would say the vast majority of our employed vendors sell the paper for the money. Earning a living is the most important issue,” she said.

With the stigma against homeless people a real issue in society, it was discussed how magazines and vendors could work together to create a better image of homeless people.

Cawley said that online networking could be used to counter the negative attitudes towards homeless people.

“I think we all have a responsibility to use social media more to challenge the stigma. I think if we can do that, we can influence a new generation,” he said.