1 in 28 adults in Scotland experience extreme disadvantage each year

I-SPHERE research Hard Edges Scotland, commissioned by Lankelly Chase and The Robertson Trust, has been launched today.

Hard Edges Scotland highlights the complexity of the lives of people facing multiple disadvantage.

The research found that almost 200,000 adults in Scotland experience at least one form of extreme disadvantage each year, including homelessness, substance dependency and offending.  However, when additional disadvantages such as mental ill-health and domestic violence are considered, the numbers affected more than double to nearly 450,000 people each year.

The research also details the challenges that charitable services and the public sector are facing. In particular, the report illustrates the mismatch between the multiple disadvantage people face, and the fact that services are often set up to address ‘single issues’.

Hard Edges Scotland identifies that people are often not able to access services until they have reached crisis point. It also highlights the necessity for services to become more consistent and tailored to each person, taking trauma and underlying causes such as poverty and childhood experience into consideration, to address the current gaps which are locking people in extreme disadvantage.

The pervasive nature of multiple disadvantage can affect whole families and communities, and the research alerts the urgent need to find different ways to address these problems to ensure they are not inherited by future generations.

Research key findings:

Each year in Scotland:

  • 5,700 adults experience three ‘core’ forms of severe and multiple disadvantage (homelessness, offending and substance dependency)
  • 28,800 experience two out of these three
  • 156,700 experience one of these three
  • Higher rates of extreme disadvantage are found in urban compared to rural areas
  • Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, North Ayrshire and Aberdeen City show high prevalence of people experiencing ‘core’ forms of severe and multiple disadvantage.
  • Affluent, suburban towns and the Highlands and Islands have lower rates.

Martin Boyle, 49, from Glasgow has lived experience of severe and multiple disadvantages.  Boyle spent time in care throughout his early years, but when he moved back into the family home, he was abused which, coupled with bullying at school, left him feeling isolated. He said:

“I was being bullied at school and confronted with even more trauma when I got home. I hated secondary school, I didn’t know how to socialise and ended up isolating myself – which became my survival instinct. It started me down the path towards all sorts of issues such as addiction, violence and homelessness – my life was complete chaos. It was a really deep, dark time.”

Boyle has previously spent time in prison for multiple offences including drug misuse, theft and assault and felt let down by the available support services, which led to him re-offending.  When asked about Hard Edges Scotland, Boyle said:

“I wanted to be involved in Hard Edges Scotland because of my lived experience. I think all services should offer a peer-support element, to break down barriers for people with lived experience by offering them someone to talk to who has been through the same thing. The biggest thing is being listened to and breaking down barriers to earn trust; a lot of people are afraid to be honest. Some of the services are like prison in a way, you feel isolated from being passed around so much.”


Connected Fund

Coinciding with the launch of Hard Edges Scotland, £80,000 is being made available to communities and organisations across Scotland by Lankelly Chase to encourage new conversations about severe and multiple disadvantage. This is a chance for people to connect and reflect on what the findings are telling them about inequality, service responses and policy.

The fund will seek to encourage often unheard and missing voices from current discussions to have their say into how future support might look. Grants of up to £3,000 each will be given to facilitate new conversations in creative ways, including interactive events and workshops.

Alice Evans, Deputy Chief Executive of Lankelly Chase said:

“These findings tell the story of life as it is now for people facing extreme disadvantage across Scotland. With one in every 28 people in the country experiencing at least one form of severe disadvantage, Hard Edges Scotland asks us all to question the role we’re playing in allowing this to continue.  To support this, we want to connect discussions across communities, sectors, disciplines, hierarchies and locations. This is why we are offering grants of up to £3,000 to encourage as many people as possible to have new conversations about what needs to change to address severe and multiple disadvantage. We were particularly interested to see education emerge as a central theme when looking at missed opportunities, as school-based preventative services has become a key area of interest for the Trust in recent years.

To view the summary and full Hard Edges Scotland research, or to learn more about the grant application process, visit: http://www.lankellychase.org.uk/connected


%d bloggers like this: