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Experts say Glasgow City Council’s plan to axe crucial teen service flawed

© Andrew Cawley / DCT MediaThe 37-bed James Shields unit facing closure
The 37-bed James Shields unit facing closure

Experts have questioned the closure of a project that has helped thousands of teenagers over the past 20 years.

They say Glasgow City Council’s plan to withdraw support from the James Shields Service in Pollokshaws and put teenagers into tenancies is flawed.

The project, run with charity Quarriers, has been a lifeline for up to 37 teens at a time, offering a safe haven and 24/7 support from trained staff.

Last week the council revealed it wanted to concentrate on the “Housing First” model, placing vulnerable homeless in social housing tenancies.

But experts warn against scrapping a project with a proven track record.

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Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: “Glasgow City Council’s statistics show that last year it turned away people on 3,365 occasions. So it is hard to fathom why reducing those services that do exist will help them fix the crisis.”

Mr Brown added that the move is too hasty and may cause even more problems for vulnerable teens.

MSP Elaine Smith, a campaigner on poverty and homelessness, said: “Housing First can work for some groups but extremely vulnerable young people struggling with all kinds of issues need a great deal more constant support than just being given a house.

“Until we have firm evidence of how successful it [Housing First] is, I question whether it is advisable to close down a well-tried and tested scheme.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said the authority is continuing with its plans, adding that it was committed to supporting people in their own tenancies or smaller-scale supported living arrangements.”

Quarriers said it was fully committed to supporting its 28 staff and 37 young people.