Life on the streets: One man's struggle to survive amid Glasgow's housing crisis

Formerly homeless blogger to write about experience on CommonSpace

AS HOUSING and homelessness become key social issue in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, a formerly homeless writer will start a new column at CommonSpace charting his path through Scotland’s homelessness system.

John Paul Clark spent over a year in the Scottish homelessness system, which he believes has clear failings.

Ahead of the launch of his CommonSpace ten part series on Wednesday (21 June), Clark told CommonSpace that his journey through the system began on the streets.

"Three weeks on the streets, three months in a homeless hostel and then 8-9 months in temporary accomodation," he said.

"If you get a lawyers letter on your first day of homelessness the council should give you accomodation. But if you don't get this lawyers letter they just let you sleep on the streets.” John Paul Clark

"Every person should get accomodation for the night[straight away], but the council don't always stand by that.

"If you get a lawyers letter on your first day of homelessness the council should give you accomodation. But if you don't get this lawyers letter they just let you sleep on the streets. That's why I was on the street for three weeks."

Homelessness has become an increasingly prominent issue in Scotland in recent months, especially after the death of 28 year old father of two Matthew Bloomer, who was found dead in a shop doorway on the morning of 22 March.

The blaze at Grenfell Tower in London, where police now presume 79 dead, has highlighted the housing crisis in London and across the UK, characterised by a lack of public and affordable housing, rocketing house prices and rents, and widespread homelessness.

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In 2015-2016 there were 34,662 homeless applications in Scotland.

Clark, who is 36, used to work as a chef, but his bid to become a journalist by going back to university and a breakdown in a relationship left him homeless in 2016.

Another problem he faced in the system was incurring charges for temporary accomodation if he worked, preventing him from gaining employment.

He said: "The rent in the temporary accomodation is £700 pounds - that stops people from working. So you are just basically stuck in this bedsit for eight months.

"The chief motivation behind it is to help others. I wanted to write something imformative that could prevent others from falling into the same pitfalls." Jean Paul Clark

If you were going to be in a position to earn £20,000 or £30,000 a month that wouldn't be a problem, but most homeless people can only earn the minimum wage."

Speaking of his motivation for writing the blog, he said: "I'm an aspiring journalist. All my caseworkers always said to me ‘why don't you write?’

"Once I got the news that I was getting somewhere permanent I felt as though I could finally do something about that."

"The chief motivation behind it is to help others.

"I wanted to write something imformative that could prevent others from falling into the same pitfalls."

You can catch the first installment of Clark's column on Wednesday 21 June.

Picture: CommonSpace

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