Scottish charity has launched a new Facebook Messenger “bot” to teach Scots about the real causes of homelessness amongst young people after research found nearly half believe it is through choice or a refusal to accept assistance.
The new poll, commissioned by Cyrenians, found 15% of Scots believe young people are homeless because of personal choice and 25% because they refuse to accept help from family, friends or benefits.
Cyrenians hope the bot, named Alex, can break down barriers, allowing the public to ask the questions they might not feel comfortable asking in person while learning about homelessness as well as the prevalence of conflicts in the home.
The study also found that Scots believe a rift/argument with family (85%), lack of affordable housing (59%), excessively consuming drugs (64%), and excessively consuming alcohol (54%) are the main causes of homelessness amongst young people in Scotland.
Alex is a composition of real life cases and information. He will answer questions about how he ended up living on the streets and the factors that have prevented him from finding somewhere to stay.
Commenting on the launch, Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive at Cyrenians said:
“The problem we have today, as this poll demonstrates, is that when a young person is homeless most people tend to believe it is through some sort of choice. However, the causes of homelessness and why people find it hard to get out of it is incredibly complex. Cyrenians work with young people who find themselves in this situation giving them the advice and support they need to get back on their feet.”
“But we can’t do this alone. We need the public to understand that young people can be homeless for any number of reasons outwith their control. The launch of Alex is a massive step towards making that change. If people find this a useful way to understand more, we will introduce similar technology to support our front-line service work with those at risk of homelessness or dealing with conflict at home.
“Users can ask Alex questions about how he ended up in his situation, get to know him a little, and even find out how they too could help a young homeless person with just a small gesture of kindness.”
Speaking about the launch Alex said:
“A few months back, I spent a night on the streets, the scariest night of my life. Right now I stay in a Bed & Breakfast in Edinburgh. I have a roof over my head, but it’s not a home. Not even close.
“I really struggled to get my life back on a positive path. Luckily for me Cyrenians were able to provide me with the help and support I needed to turn things around. I’m still on that journey, and things are getting better but I know a lot of people who haven’t been so fortunate.
I hope by allowing the public to ask me questions they might not feel comfortable asking in person, I will help to break down barriers and teach them about homelessness in Scotland today.”
Cyrenians are urging people to go to www.askalex.scot and “Ask Alex” to share his story.
Notes to Editors
For more information, contact Jordan Ferguson on 07828105769 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
For nearly 50 years, Cyrenians has served those on the edge, working with the homeless and vulnerable to transform their lives by beginning with their story, helping them believe that they can change their lives, and walking with them as they lead their own transformation.
- Our Vision is an inclusive society in which we all have the opportunities to live valued and fulfilled lives, and we work to make that vision a reality by:
- Our Mission to support people excluded from family, home, work or community on their life journey.
Working predominantly in Edinburgh, Lothians, Falkirk, Borders and Stirling but also with some Scotland-wide services, Cyrenians work is organised around four targeted areas of service:
Family and People: We work with families to resolve issues and repair relationships, support older people to stay connected in their communities and provide a safe and supportive environment for people on their journey away from addiction.
Home and Housing: Tackling homelessness has been at the heart of our work since the charity was founded. Today, we offer practical housing advice and supported housing for young people. Take a look at some of the innovative ways we help people avoid becoming homeless..
Work and Skills: Cyrenians helps jobseekers to move into work across Scotland. By tackling barriers to employment and offering skills and training, we not only help our clients find work, we help them stay in employment and away from benefits dependency..
Community and Food: Cyrenians range of services and social enterprises teach people about the benefits of growing, cooking and eating good food together in our local communities. We also know that food can play a significant role in growing local economies, and we empower communities to take ownership of supply chains and reduce dependence on global markets.
About the poll
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Progressive Partnership Ltd. Total sample size was 1,015 adults.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd and 6th March 2017. The survey was carried out online.
The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).
This spreadsheet contains survey data collected and analysed by Progressive Partnership Ltd in partnership with YouGov plc.
No information contained within this spreadsheet may be published without the consent of Progressive Partnership and YouGov Plc.
Other poll results:
|Personal Choice (i.e they choose to live that lifestyle)||15%|
|A rift / argument with their family||85%|
|Refusal to accept help (eg. Benefits, friends, parents, etc.)||25%|
|Lack of affordable housing||59%|
|Excessively consuming drugs||64%|
|Excessively consuming alcohol||54%|
|None of these||1%|