A DOCUMENTARY has exposed the grim reality of homelessness in Glasgow – drugs, desperation and death.

‘Homeless at Christmas’ shows first hand the experience faced by those living on the streets, including the constant threat of violence and widespread availability of drugs.

It comes as Glasgow became the first city in the UK to launch an Alliance to End Homelessness.

The groundbreaking initiative aims to dramatically reduce the number of people sleeping rough or without permanent accommodation in the next seven to 10 years.

Several charities working on the ground will be involved in shaping the direction of the Alliance and described the new approach as ‘much needed’.

READ MORE: Glasgow leads the UK in ending homlessness

However, the immediate reality of homelessness in the city is something that filmmaker James English set out to draw attention to.

He spent seven nights sleeping rough to raise “mass awareness” of the plight of those forced to live on the city streets. 

He had no phone, money, or communication with friends and family and spent his time sleeping rough in doorways and parks around the city. 

During his experience, which he filmed on a GoPro camera, he said he was offered drugs “every 20 minutes”, and at times feared he wouldn’t even wake up. 

Three of the people who featured in the documentary have died since it was filmed. 

However, one man, who suffered from severe substance addiction, has managed to seek help and turn his life around. 

READ MORE: 9 ways you can help the homeless and vulnerable in Glasgow at Christmas

The Glasgow man, who hosts his own podcast, is now calling for more mental health support for those who find themselves on the streets.

The plight of several homeless people, including one who has experienced recurrent transphobic abuse and violence, is captured in the film.

James said: “There’s so many people out there offering food and clothes but I wanted to create mass awareness.

“When you walk by these people on the streets, you forget that they’ve had businesses, jobs and families. They’ve had a roof over their head but certain circumstances happen and they’ve lost everything. It could happen to anyone.

“When I was out there, I was offered drugs every 20 minutes. When you’re on the streets and you feel disconnected, you slip into those bad habits and it’s very difficult to get out.

“It’s not just a case of rehoming people, it’s about changing the mindset which can stem from losing a job or abuse.”

He added: “I’ve battled a lot of things in my life but I’ve been lucky. We need more humanity.

“There’s a lot of beggars on the streets that are not homeless, so that’s why it’s important to take a few minutes of your time to speak to people or to notice whether someone is in the same spot day and night.

“You can’t force help on people, they need to accept it first.”

READ MORE: Reality TV star James English reveals he went homeless in Glasgow over Christmas week

The stark findings come as the sister of one rough sleeper found dead in Paisley launched a desperate search to trace his movements before his death.

Antoinette Kirkland, from Erskine, shared an appeal on social media asking for anyone who had come across her brother to get in touch.

Ian Kirkland was found dead in a wooded area on Incle Street, Paisley, close to a local takeaway and a statue of the town’s patron saint 
St Mirren, on August 30.

The 40-year-old had been sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow for several months before he died.

Volunteers and members of the public have come forward to share their stories of meeting Ian to help his family through their grief.

It is thought that he spent a lot of his time on Sauchiehall and Argyle Street, which has seen an increase in rough sleeping in recent years.

Ian was pictured holding a sign reading “the ex-wife had a better lawyer” – despite the fact he was never married – which often attracted attention.

Antoinette said: “Myself and my mother and brother had no knowledge of where my brother was and if we knew, we would’ve been straight up to bring him home. We are absolutely devastated at what has happened to him. 

READ MORE: 6 things to do if you see a rough sleeper in the city

“He was a really nice guy, he had a heart of gold and a great sense of humour as you can see by his sign as he was never married.

“It means the world to me and my family to know that even though it seems he wasn’t with anyone, he definitely wasn’t alone. 

“He was well looked after and not ignored. 

“That was my biggest nightmare, that he was all alone the past few months.”

Antoinette is now raising money for other people in her brother’s position by spending a night on the streets with Help the Homeless Glasgow.

The death of 28-year-old Matthew Bloomer, who was found dead where he slept outside an Argyle Street shop amidst freezing temperatures in March last year, previously drew attention to the tragedies unfolding on Glasgow’s streets.

Charities including Street Connect face the loss of their service users on a regular basis.

Ricky McAddock, director of Street Connect, said the charity had experienced a death only last week.

He believes that earlier intervention must be taken to prevent vulnerable people resorting to the streets.

He explained: “Ending homelessness is a great aim but the main issue is relationship breakdowns which then lead to people taking to the streets. People are attracted to the city centre which why there has been a rise in those appearing there.

“We’ve got a funeral on Monday of someone we have been working with. There are people dying who may have received help but have fallen back into but it’s important to make sure the right support is there.

“Through the Alliance, we will be working more collaboratively which will make a difference. It’s a different way of working which is needed because we are still facing the same issues.”

Click here to watch James English’s Homeless at Christmas