Concerns over '˜growing' Eastwood homelessness problem

The founder of a respected local charity has this week sounded the alarm about the grim social malaise of Eastwood homelessness.

Russell Macmillan, who heads up the ER Good Causes charity, says he fears the problem remains not only unsolved but is also growing.

It’s a problem across East Renfrewshire, but partially-sighted Russell, whose charity has supported countless local residents with often life-changing help, says it’s an outrage that one of the wealthiest districts in the country suffers such an apparently intractable problem.

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Across East Renfrewshire as a whole he says more than 250 people find themselves with no place to call their own.

He stresses that he is talking about a crisis in Eastwood as much as in any other part of the area.

And he argues that the widespread false assumption that homelessness only affects people in disadvantaged areas must be nailed if progress is ever to be made.

He’s incensed that stories about the supposed wealth of leafy-laned Eastwood ignore the fact that poverty and homelessness stalk the area’s most prosperous suburbs – and is grateful to people who acknowledge the problem and lend support.

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These include Maxwell Mearns Castle Parish Church, in Newton Means, which has been able to provide some storage space as part of its Christian Outreach activities.

Russell said: “Before setting up and running ERGoodCauses I have to confess that I didn’t think there was a homelessness problem locally.

“However I was shocked to discover the scale of the homeless problem right here on our own doorstep.

“There are many reasons for some of our neighbours becoming homeless, and most are not due to alcohol or substance misuse.

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“They include marital breakdown, people fleeing domestic abuse, unexpected unemployment, illness and accidents leading to disability - resulting in potentially lower earnings, serious debt problems - to name just a few.”

He points out that the council does have homeless flats across the whole area, with operating bases in Clarkston and Barrhead.

But he says finding permanent tenancies can be more difficult, and that meanwhile the causes of homelessness ensure the problem will remain intractable until seriously challenged.

He said: “Many working people on relatively low wages, and often topped up by tax credits, find it almost impossible to save, sometimes due to the increasing rental costs – particularly in the private rented sector.

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“Many hard working people with little or no savings, can find themselves homeless as a result of a private landlord wishing to sell up and release capital.”

In many or most cases, he says, people presenting themselves as homeless have racked up unsustainable debts to keep a roof over their heads.

He added: “With such a lack of affordable housing in our area, it is no surprise that there is an ongoing increase in those people ending up homeless through no fault of their own.

“Let’s try and show our deserving neighbours that we do care about them, especially if they have become a victim of our growing homelessness problem here in East Renfrewshire”.

ER Good Causes can be contacted at [email protected].