Passers-by 'afraid' to speak to homeless

Homeless man Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption About 5,000 people are forced to sleep rough on Scotland's streets each year

Two thirds of Scots never stop to speak to homeless people, according to a new study.

Charity Street Soccer Scotland, which commissioned the research, also said that 41% of those questioned were "fearful" of approaching the homeless.

The research shows younger people aged 16 to 24 were least likely to stop and talk.

It is estimated that each year about 5,000 people are forced to sleep rough on Scotland's streets.

Street Soccer Scotland said older age groups were less likely to be anxious about speaking to rough sleepers.

'Lost all hope'

Founder and chief executive of the charity David Duke, who was homeless for three years, said: "Having experienced homelessness I know what it's like to spend your days alone, with no-one to speak to.

"I also know the difference that having someone to talk to can make when you've lost all hope.

"I'm really shocked at the number of people who say they don't stop to speak to people who are homeless, and especially by the number who say they're afraid to."

Last year, 9,187 homelessness applications were received from people aged 16 to 24.

Mr Duke, who also sits on the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group set up by the Scottish government, added: "Today in Scotland, great strides are being made to eradicate homelessness with progressive laws and a willing government.

"However, unfortunately some things have stayed exactly the same.

"The lack of dignity afforded to people experiencing homelessness, the prejudice and stigma that comes with what is the worst time of your life, is holding our society back. We need to do more to change that."

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