THIS week whilst reading a story of a nine-month-old baby dying in the Moria refugee camp in Greece,

I realised that the story wouldn’t have surprised me if it had been written about a child in Glasgow.

The child’s life is far from the first life to be lost as a result of a refusal by governments to implement humane, fair and safe passage for those forcibly displaced from their homes. 

And it certainly won’t be the last. But as we slip dangerously closer towards creating similar conditions right here in Glasgow, ones that we once only thought possible within camp environments in other European countries, I can’t help but wonder if we will only fully realise the problem once it is too late for too many.

In a week where temperatures have dropped to minus three, our asylum system continues to allow the privately contracted housing provider with not just the legal right, but the incentive to make people street homeless. 

READ MORE: Charities warn of homelessness deaths in Glasgow as temperatures plummet

The stories of lock changes are right here on our doorstep, yet we very often find it easier to gain awareness and share in our shock of the stories from afar. 

Do we find it more palatable to read of other cities and countries failing people within them than looking at our own internal workings and their results?

It is undeniable that a bombardment of news and information often result in a numbness or a feeling of overwhelm. When we see no way to challenge, change or manage the problem we, more often than not, use our incredible privilege to protect ourselves from the feeling of overwhelm and we disengage. 

Avoiding the stories that make us uncomfortable and switching off the news when it suits us. But in doing so we don’t hear the story of the family who return from the school run to find their locks changed.

We don’t know that whilst the official lock change documents may have stated it was only adults staying in the accommodation, the failing system and lack of direct engagement actually meant that a young mother and her seven-month-old baby were also made homeless that day. 

In choosing to disengage with these difficult stories what results is a warped view of the space that we live in against all of the other places that we are removed enough from to hear of the horror within.

READ MORE: Man found dead in Glasgow as temperatures dipped below freezing

When it comes to homelessness there is no hierarchy of need. It is unacceptable, preventable and cruel to everyone; regardless of where they come from, what their story is or what they choose to spend their money on. The focus here should not be on who is deserving of support, but who is responsible and how can we change it.

Whilst it is tempting to believe that if there was a simple solution it would have been implemented before now, I’m not sure this is a justifiable argument. It goes hand-in-hand with the privilege that has already been exposed. Real change will only happen if we address the overly complicated policies and procedures across all sectors attempting to tackle this issue. 

At present accessing services is a laborious and slow process for everyone involved with endless examples of impractical processes that those delivering them do not agree with, understand or feel empowered to challenge. 

Our homeless support services cannot be engaged until an individual is already on the street; not having a fixed address makes the benefit system completely inaccessible to many; and people from an ever-expanding variety of backgrounds are expected to fit into systems that were not designed with their unique circumstances in mind.

Our support services, both government-funded and community-led, continue to struggle to meet the demand for services and items that no-one would argue are anything but essential. 

Meanwhile people in this city are left in limbo; vulnerable, isolated and at this time of year, cold. We are failing people across the city for the sake of ticking boxes within systems that haven’t been fit for purpose for years.

Selina Hales is co-founder of the Refuweegee Charity