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September 8, 2020

Invest in homelessness

Unless you have lived experience of homelessness I suspect it is literally unimaginable. The Big Sleep Out has become a phenomenal success in raising awareness and money worldwide but we don’t seem any closer to solving this hugely complex problem.  That said, and while acknowledging there are no simple solutions, one homeless charity, Rowan Alba in association with Community Shares Scotland is charting a route that seems to offer real potential. If you’ve ever felt you’d like to do more than put money in an old coffee cup, this new initiative – Common Ground – may be the answer.

The Common Ground Against Homelessness Share Offer with be live soon, please join to keep up to date

The recent Corona virus has demonstrated it is possible to end rooflessness. By working together, charities, the Scottish Government and local authorities have put a roof over 500 homeless people in Scotland during the pandemic. This has been made possible by the availability of empty hotel rooms, as there has been no tourists to fill them.  But what happens when the tourists come back, and the rooms can command a higher price?

Right across Scotland, individuals and businesses have responded with generosity and kindness, recognising the profound inequality which sadly exists in our society. They have moved to offer whatever is within their gift to help. In my “day job” as chief executive officer of a homelessness charity, I am often asked by people, “what can I do to help?”. It’s humbling to receive donations, and we are very grateful for them. They do so much to alleviate the misery of homelessness.  Yet the one thing that has remained beyond Rowan Alba’s, and many other charities grasp, is to be able to provide a home for life at a reasonable cost to homeless people.    Rowan Alba, has endeavoured to replicate our home for life model, Thorntree, but has been hampered by unaffordable housing costs, as have many other excellent charities.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. To this end, by combining the Scottish virtues of community and  canniness with money, the idea formed to encourage those of us who have the security of having a safe, warm home and a little spare money in savings , to invest in housing for homeless people.  Thus, Common Ground against Homelessness (CGAH) came into being.  Our aim is to be in solidarity with homeless people, by putting our own money into buying the bricks and mortar, which will provide a home for life.  In return, you will be offered interest on your investment, though you may not want to claim this.   You will be helping individuals, real people, like Gerry, who was street homeless for 7 years.

In getting, and keeping people off the streets, you will not only help them, but you will also save the public purse literally millions of pounds. You will be helping in a very practical, pragmatic way to end homelessness. You will be part of the solution, and your investment will ensure that CGAH has the funds to buy the properties.  But a home for life isn’t just about bricks and mortar.   CGAH will partner with charities who have the expertise to keep people off the streets, and offer the dignity, choice and security we all aspire to. Our first share offer is around the replication of Thorntree. Please read our share offer, and become part of the solution to ending homelessness.