Midlothian Council partners with housing charity to tackle youth homelessness

Friday February 2nd 2024

Partners Cllr McKenzie and Gary Neill

Launching the new partnership project are Cllr Stuart McKenzie Midlothian Cabinet Member with responsibility for housing (left) and Gary Neil, Head of Services at Rock Trust.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

A joint initiative has been launched in Midlothian to help young people avoid homelessness.

Midlothian Council has partnered with the charity Rock Trust to better support young people with housing issues. The Trust provides a youth specific specialist service to advise, educate and support young people to develop the personal skills and resources required to make a positive and healthy transition into running a home and adulthood.

It is recognised that young people are disproportionally represented in homeless figures. According to Scottish Government statistics there was a 4% increase in youth homelessness across Scotland last year and In Midlothian, there was a 17% increase in the number of young people assessed as homeless.

The council already undertakes activities to prevent and reduce homelessness as part of its Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan (RRTP). The council has now decided to work with the Rock Trust to support people aged 16-25 who are at risk of becoming homeless, or in need of support to establish a home after a period of homelessness.

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This two-year project has been funded through Scottish Government money to support local authorities in the delivery of their RRTP. It will help young people to sustain tenancies on a one to one basis through a personal worker and will cover- areas such as budgeting, finances, education, employment, health & well-being and developing socially.

Comments from young people supported by the Rock Trust in similar projects with other local authorities in the past include:

“I can’t even begin to explain how much this helped me. It really helped having someone I could phone if I was worried or didn’t understand something.”

”I can only describe the support as phenomenal.”

“My Rock Trust worker brought such a positive energy that even on bad days she really cheered me up.”

“Probably the first time in a while I felt I had people in my life that genuinely cared about me!”

Cllr Stuart McKenzie, Midlothian Cabinet Member with responsibility for housing said:

“I welcome the launch of this project which aims to reduce the number of young people who become homeless and require temporary accommodation. We have done a lot to help reduce homelessness in Midlothian already and we see this as another great step. Where homelessness cannot be prevented the Rock Trust project will help ensure it is brief and a one-off. The service will support tenants who are having difficulty managing their tenancy, perhaps stopping things going from bad to worse. Rock Trust has a great reputation and we welcome their valuable expertise.”

Commenting on the launch of the partnership project with Midlothian Council, Kate Polson, CEO of Rock Trust said:
“With youth homelessness cases in Midlothian and across Scotland rising in the past year, it is more important than ever that we reach young people early, before homelessness occurs. Where this isn’t possible, young people need youth-specific support and safe and age-appropriate pathways into housing. We’re proud to be expanding our services into the area, and are grateful to Midlothian Council for their commitment to the young people in their communities. It is through this kind of cross-collaboration and investment in support that we will turn the tide on Scotland’s youth homelessness crisis.”

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