THERE are many lessons to learn and unravel

from our experience of lockdown.

For me what has been remarkable is the art of the possible. If you think back to just three months ago ending egregious social injustice and discrimination was perceived as a life-time ambition.

Ending child poverty, racism, homelessness, human destitution, domestic violence were destinations of travel to be achieved incrementally over a generation or more. Inequalities in our society had to be managed like a swimmer treading water. The status quo – like the old rock n’ roll band – always came back on tour. Change had to be gradual. Inertia was guaranteed by vested interests.

Now statues have been torn down. Chucked in the river. Our forced public remembrance of nefarious slave traders and those who made fortunes from human misery and exploitation are being challenged as part of the Black Lives Matters movement. The world doesn’t have to be this way. It never did.

There has been a powerful refusal to accept the same old same. Life is too short and the promise of neverland isn’t working anymore. A social awakening and doing things differently during lockdown have demonstrated that a different future is possible. It can happen right now.

For me removing statutes of exploiters of human life is symbolic. Symbols are important, yet in the UK many descendants of the privileged plinthed still occupy seats in the House of Lords. They enjoy hereditary peerages and own vast swathes of our countryside and natural heritage, acquired by the blood, sweat and tears of others.

Meaningful change has to be structural. It has to strike at the heart and source of injustice and inequality. Without doubt, we

now have a unique opportunity during the pandemic to demand the implementation of bold

change to reboot our society.

One of those changes is the eradication of rough sleeping and ending homelessness in Scotland for all, regardless of colour and immigration status. This week sees the second meeting of the reconvened homelessness and rough sleeping action group (HARSAG).

It was reconvened by housing minister Kevin Stewart to look at ending homelessness in the context of the covid-19 pandemic. I’m proud to be a member of the group to help effect vital change.

In cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, rough sleeping has continued to be a huge challenge. The introduction of housing first has seen more than 200 people who were sleeping rough sustain new tenancies. When lockdown struck at the end of March, we discovered that no-one had to sleep on the streets after all.

With Scottish Government funding, the Simon Community has been able to house any rough sleeper in hotel accommodation. Around one half of this group are EEA nationals, often with no statutory rights to homeless accommodation. Currently unsuccessful asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds have been accommodated.

It’s possible to end street homelessness for everyone regardless of legal status. No-one should ever have to return or be discharged to the streets. This winter there should be no need to use winter night shelters.

We have more than 11,000 households in temporary accommodation. A life on pause. Many local authorities charge the best part of £200 a week for a temporary furnished flat and many adults and children are stuck in such properties for years on end accumulating housing debt. Let’s find a way to flip these tenancies and make them permanent at normal cost.

We don’t have enough affordable housing supply in Scotland. There is a clear role for the new Scottish Investment Bank to help solve this supply side infrastructure problem.

Preventing homelessness will be key. Rents need to be affordable in both the social and private rented sectors. Year on year double the rate of inflation rent hikes aren’t sustainable anymore. Women wouldn’t have to endure domestic violence if there was a guaranteed route to an alternative home.

We have the worst recession looming since the 1920’s. The economy has already shrunk by a fifth. A quarter of those furloughed may be in a waiting room for redundancy and unemployment. Come September and October all of the current forbearance schemes are scheduled to come to an end.

New thinking, new interventions and remedies are all part of the solution to prevent a cliff-edge spike in homelessness and poverty later this year. We now know it is doable.

Statutes are but a snapshot in time. A time when a version of history was regaled by unaccountable and powerful elites. Let’s erect and celebrate statutes the recognise the outstanding and life-changing efforts of people who have put others before themselves without gain or reward.