A GLASGOW rough sleeper has finally found his ‘safe haven’ after living in homeless units and hostels for over a decade.

James Kingsman has been without a home on and off since the age of 16.

The now 35-year-old described his past life as ‘horrific and hopeless’ following the death of his husband John in 2010, and his mum, Dorothy, five years later.

James is one of 54 long term homeless people who have been given a home under the Housing First initiative.

Each tenant with complex needs is given intensive support to help them get to grips with skills required to run a home, such as liaising with utility companies and paying bills.

James is a former resident of Glasgow’s Clyde Place homeless unit, which shut in August as part of the city’s new approach to homelessness.

Since settling into his one- bedroom flat, he described his new home as his “safe haven”.

James said: “I’ve been through some pretty horrific stuff in my life, but Housing First has given me a new lease of life.

“Before I was in limbo, but now I have a fresh start.

“My house is better than I could have wished for. It’s in a quiet area near shops and transport and really feels like a home.

“The support I’m getting is amazing.

“If I don’t understand a letter or a bill, I can show it to my case worker and they’ll help me sort it out.

“I feel this is the beginning of my new life – a ‘normal’ life whatever that is.”

Just weeks after moving into his new home, James is already working towards a positive future.

He has applied to volunteer with the charity which supplied his housing starter pack and is also keen to do a college course on hairdressing or decorating to increase his chances of finding work.

He added: “I want to go to work, come home and enjoy a takeaway or go to the cinema like everyone else.

“Housing First has given me the key to a whole new life. Before, every day was a struggle, but now I’m so happy here.”

Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP) has contracted the Salvation Army to help provide support with accessing health services, further education, training and employment opportunities for those using the scheme.

Along with other partners including the Wheatley Group and Social Bite, the initiative aims to reduce the length of time people spend in temporary accommodation and provide rapid rehousing via mainstream tenancies as part of the new Housing First approach.

It was pioneered in Europe and the US and turns conventional homelessness practice on its head.

Councillor Mhairi Hunter, Chair of GCHSCP’s Joint Integration Board, said: “People can find themselves homeless for numerous different reasons including health issues, relationship breakdowns and personal tragedies.

“When people are at their lowest, they need our help most. Housing First is a rapid rehousing approach to help people with complex needs rebuild their lives. It is radically different to the traditional approach to helping this vulnerable group and is now being rolled out across Scotland.

“I’m delighted to hear how it has benefited James. I congratulate him on this personal milestone.”

Wheatley Group Director  of Housing and Care Olga Clayton said: “As part of our wider aim to help tackle rough sleeping across Scotland, we’re committed to working in partnership with Social Bite and others on a Housing First approach. 

"We’re pleased to be working with Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership and the Salvation Army to provide 54 permanent homes in Glasgow to help homeless people like James rebuild their lives. We wish James all the very best as he settles into his flat.”