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The 'hidden' problem of homelessness

Dawn Rawlinson Photo: ITV Border

Behind the rolling hills and stunning countryside of Dumfries and Galloway is a problem that may surprise you. Homelessness might be an all too common sight in our towns and cities, but it exists in more rural areas too. One charity describes it as a 'hidden' issue because it often can't be seen.

Dawn Rawlinson was 51 when she found herself facing homelessness for the first time in her life. The house she lived in was being sold by a family member to raise funds. She works but couldn't afford expensive private accommodation and felt she had nowhere to turn.

"The situation was very daunting, very scary, thinking where was I going? Where was I going to end up next?"

– Dawn Rawlinson

Luckily, Dawn's daughters helped her find some assistance. The Charity Shelter Scotland found her a flat and are helping her navigate her way through bills and expenses to ensure she keeps her accommodation.

"This is a lovely place, and I am now pulling myself together and I am not nervy or upset anymore, I used to get really anxious, and now I am perfect, just perfect.”

– Dawn Rawlinson

Dawn is proof homelessness can happen to anyone. Vicky Long is a housing support worker, she drives all over the Stewarty area of Dumfries and Galloway providing practical and emotional support.

“It definitely is a hidden problem. The public perception is street homeless, people sleeping in cardboard boxes that sort of thing, whereas in this area we get a lot of people made homeless who stay with friends, who are sofa-surfing - staying one of two nights then moving on - staying with family, families moving in with grandparents, so they’ve got the issue of overcrowding."

– Vicky Long, housing support worker
Vicky Long Credit: ITV Border

Living in rural areas can have other issues. A lack of social housing, isolation and problems accessing technology can make an already difficult situation even worse.

Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Scottish Government say they are addressing the lack of social housing in more rural area and building hundreds of new homes.

If you find yourself homeless, or facing homelessness in Dumfries and Galloway, the first step is to ring the council who can refer you to a charity or organisation in your area. The number is 030 33 33 3000.