Youth People's Perspective on Homelessness in Alloa

Youth Perspective on Homelessness

Youth People's Perspective on Homelessness in Alloa
Youth perspective on Homelessness in Clackmannanshire

Youth perspective on Homelessness


According to the latest statistics (2020-21) published by the Scottish Government 42,149 people were affected by homelessness.

This was broken down into 30,345 adults and 11,804 children.

Clackmannanshire is rated third most affected by homelessness in Scotland (having only very recently moved from second lowest).

The young people of connect wanted to investigate and analyze the growing issue of homelessness in the Clackmannanshire community and with funding provided by Youth Scotland, created a questionnaire around ‘homelessness & its ties to the criminal justice system’. They reached out to the community for completing the survey gather feedback in the form of opinions and levels of understanding of the issue.

You can download the community report here!

We believe that the youth perspective is key in solving problems like homelessness, therefore

after gathering data and writing a report, we then went back to our participants (age 7 – 19) to go over the same questions. This was undertaken as a ‘hot topic’ activity to refresh our memories and help those who had not been involved learn more about the topic. 


Why youth perspective is important

‘Youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow,’ is a precise and judicious remark made by Nelson Mandela. Gaining insight into youth perspectives and making them aware of the current issues could be an assurance for a better future. Youth perceptions on social issues could bring remarkable transformation in our society through their fresh take on existing problems. It is crucial that they understand, participate, and voice their opinions on community problems and we support and be inclusive of the youth perspectives as they are our future.


Youth perspective on the seriousness of Homelessness could be seen in the figure below.

Summary of youth perspective on Homelessness

We started by asking our young participants whether they felt homelessness was an issue in Clacks and whether they knew someone at the risk of homelessness or is homeless. More than half (66.7%) of the participants responded that homelessness was an issue in Clacks. While (55.6 %) participants thought they knew someone at risk of homelessness or being homeless. Further, we wanted to ascertain the degree of awareness the young participants demonstrate regarding homelessness. 

 We continued to test their knowledge by asking about the current statistics and procedural aspects. We enquired about the number of homeless applications submitted in Clacks from 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020.  The correct answer was 523 out of the choices given to the participants, ( 1- 250, 251-500, 501-750 ), the majority chose 251-500. 33.3% chose the bracket of 501-750, and none of the participants chose the smallest bracket of 1-250. The majority of participants chose the option closest to the actual number. The Clackmannanshire Council received 523 homeless applications. However 424 applicants were considered homeless during the said period.


answered on point

Interestingly the participants correctly estimated the number of homeless people in Clacks per 1000.  The total number of participants also precisely judged that Clacks was the 3rd worst-rated for homelessness across Scotland.  Additionally, all the participants were aware of the procedural aspect as they were aware of the authority to approach to declare homelessness. 

Next, we tried to link homelessness with the criminal justice system. We asked the participants to use their best judgment to answer the following question that was based on the ‘Hard Edges Scotland research’. We asked them to gauge the number of people who experience a combination of offending substance misuse and homelessness within one year.

Young people’s perspective on ties between homelessness and criminal justice is illustrated in the figure below.

Homelessness and ties to criminal justice system

The HM Inspector of probation (HMIP) reported that 35% of people were released from prison to homelessness in 2018 -19. These people were almost twice as likely to commit the offence again. We asked the participants to find the percentage of people released from prison leading to homelessness. Out of the options given to the participants, 44.4% of participants chose 35%, 55.55% thought that the correct answer was 52%, and none of them selected 13%. 

The next question connects homelessness and serious offences. A recent study found that 40% of homeless people commit imprisonable offences to spend the night in prison rather than the streets. 11.1% of young participants thought that 20% of homeless people commit a crime to spend the night in jail rather than on the street. The majority of the participants chose the correct answer. The remaining 33.3% answered 60% of people committed crimes to spend the night in prison. 

Understanding the cause of homelessness

The following question was about homeless people in prison and their belongings. People in prisons lose their belongings like their IDs while moving cells. We wanted to know if our young participants are aware of these details. The question put forth was, ‘Do people leave the prison where they started their sentence so that they have easy access to their belongings such as ID upon their release?’  The response to this yes/no question was answered positively by the majority of the participants. 33.3% chose no which was the correct answer. 

They often move prisoners to different prisons during the period of their sentence.  However, they do not carry the belongings they initially entered with. Thus, upon their release, they may lose their important possessions, such as IDs and other paperwork necessary to access their housing. 

Another significant question related to criminal justice and homelessness is the number of people losing their homes due to imprisonment. The options we gave our participants were 1/2, 1/4 and 1/3. The majority chose the correct option – 1/2 while the remaining 44.44% chose 1/4; none of the participants chose 1/3

Youth Perception on the American Jurisdiction

When we enquired the participants about the American jurisdiction and its recent policy that increasingly criminalizes activities associated with homelessness, the majority of the participants i.e. 66.66% said that the statement was true while the remaining 33.33% said it was false. The correct answer is that American local authorities are increasingly criminalizing activities associated with homelessness.

Does the youth feel vulnerable to crimes associated with homelessness

Lastly, we questioned the young participants about the correlation between homelessness and young people being at risk of crime/ violence. The majority of the participants responded positively and the remaining were either unsure or did not think there is a correlation between homelessness and crime/ voice against young people. This could be one of the central findings of the survey and significant to analyze how vulnerable young people feel to crimes/violence on account of homelessness.

Concluding Remarks

We could deduce from the responses of these participants that they are concerned and realize the gravity of the issue. The young participants make a connection between violence/crime and homelessness and might feel vulnerable to its threats. The findings of our hot topic activity and young people’s perspective coincide with the findings of our research – ‘Homelessness & Ties To The Criminal Justice System – A Project by Connect Alloa, funded by Youth Scotland’. We believe that the figures are concerning and homelessness is an issue growing at an alarming rate in Clacks. As a charity promoting the voice of youth, we hope that this survey might help raise awareness and encourage further research on the topic. We believe that consideration and inclusion of public perceptions and youth opinion in policy implementation or research are vital. Lastly, we hope that our research is a small step towards finding a solution to the alarming issue of homelessness in Clacks.

To download the community report on ‘Homelessness and its ties to the criminal justice system’  click on the link below.

creative activities

Get Arty: Creative Activities and Mental Health

Get Arty: Creative Activities and Mental Health

Let that sink in. We think you’ll agree that this is an alarming statistic, and it demonstrates how important it is that we both talk about and support young people’s mental wellbeing.

How do we do that?

Well, there is some evidence that creative activities like painting, drawing and writing can have a positive impact on a person’s mental health.

This link between creative tasks and positive mental wellbeing is one of the reasons we’re so passionate about providing creative opportunities for our young people. We host regular creative sessions, covering everything from make-up special effects to T-Shirt printing!

So, how can creative activities benefit our mental health?


Doing something arty, whether it’s glass painting or just doodling in a notebook, can be a great way to unwind and reduce stress. Creative tasks often require a lot of focus and can help you “switch off”. They can be an effective break activity, giving you time away from a phone screen or a stressful situation.

Creative activities can also be fun, low-pressure hobbies – you don’t need to be the next Picasso to pick up a paintbrush! Sometimes it’s a good idea to try out new and different art activities and just enjoy the experience, without worrying about how “good” or “bad” you are at art.


Creative activities can be a great way to meet new people, both in-person and online!

During lockdown, a lot of people started new creative hobbies, from knitting to pottery, and found online communities to share their work with and learn from. If there’s a creative activity you want to try, chances are someone has made useful how-to videos about it on YouTube or TikTok.

At group, we find that working on creative projects can be a good way to socialise and chat to other people. While everyone can work at their own pace on their own thing, doing it within a group setting let’s you talk to others, learn from them and share ideas.

Spending time with others and building a sense of community are beneficial for mental wellbeing.

glass painting

Process Feelings/Stress

Finally, doing something creative can be a good way to work through difficult emotions or handle stress. By creating art based on what you’re experiencing, you can give yourself time and space to explore and examine your feelings.

Doing something simple, like keeping a journal or sketch book, can be a great way to monitor your mental health and write about how you’re doing in a safe space.

Activities We Offer

So now you know the positive benefits of creative activities for our mental wellbeing, it’s probably worth letting you know what sort of activities we have on offer here at Connect Alloa!

In the past, we’ve run creative writing sessions, played drawing games and hosted online art sessions using our Discord channel (which you can learn more about here).

This summer, we have included a range of different creative events as part of our summer programme. These activities have been generously sponsored by Clackmannanshire Council’s #ClacksSummerOfWellbeing.

We’ll be hosting a photography workshop, T-Shirt printing and an online make-up tutorial over the next few weeks. To find out more and register for our events, check out our Eventbrite page.

New members are always welcome! Please complete our online registration before attending group sessions.

We hope everyone is having a lovely summer!

Hot Topic: Online Safety

hot topic: online safety!


This week’s Hot Topic was a discussion about online safety and cyber security! As a group, we feel this is a very important issue for young people, especially with so much of our lives happening online right now due to Covid-19.

It goes without saying that socialising online is important, and people can have positive digital experiences. However, there are also a lot of potential dangers and negative side effects from spending lots of time online. It’s good to be aware of what these are and do things to help protect yourself.

After discussing our experiences, we asked our young people to help us come up with some ideas and safety tips for protecting yourself and others online. Before we get move on though, it’s probably worth explaining what a ‘Hot Topic’ actually is and why we run them at Connect Alloa!

Phone with security icon on screen

Wait, What's a HOT TOPIC?

Basically, a ‘Hot Topic’ is a discussion activity where we present a subject to our young people and ask them some questions, getting them to reflect on their own experiences. We’ve covered topics such as mental health and wellbeing before. Young people are welcome to join in the discussion if they feel comfortable to do so, but we also appreciate and encourage active listening.

As a group, we believe it’s important to get our young people thinking about and engaging with difficult and challenging issues. It takes confidence to speak up in front of a group with your opinions and ideas, so this exercise helps our young people build their social skills in a supportive environment.

We aim to host a ‘Hot Topic’ discussion every month or so, covering a range of different issues. If you have a suggestion for a topic we should discuss, please let us know! We are always open to suggestions and we really appreciate it when our volunteers, peer mentors and young people get involved with the planning process.

Covid-19 and Online Security

So back to our most recent Hot Topic! The first question we asked our young people was: ‘Have you or anyone you know had any issues online over the past year or so?’

Unfortunately, most of our young people said that they had, especially when using Instagram and playing online games.

One of our young people mentioned that making friends online can be a difficult process, since some people aren’t who they say they are and can use fake accounts.

We also talked about account hacking and spam messages, especially over Instagram messenger and text. A lot of people at group had been sent spam messages before, including receiving text messages from fake Royal Mail and DPD numbers asking them to pay a fee for an undelivered parcel.

It’s important to be wary of suspicious messages, even from people you know! If you’re ever in any doubt, don’t click on links or attachments within a message. You should either ignore the message or, if it’s from someone you know, ask them if they meant to message you. They might not have realised they’ve been hacked.

If you have been hacked, it can be a good idea to message people and put up a post to let your friends know, so they don’t open any links or messages the hackers sent using your account.

Quite a few of our young people also mentioned playing online multiplayer games, many of which have voice chat features that allow you to talk with other players.

One of our young people mentioned getting ‘doxxed’ during an online voice chat, where their account information was leaked to other users who sent them a lot of spam messages. Luckily, they were using a VPN that protected their location details (a VPN – Virtual Private Network – is a security feature that makes your internet connect private and can help protect your personal data).

When asked to reflect on the experience, the young person said they weren’t too bothered by it, but it was the sort of thing that could be difficult to deal with for other people depending on the situation.

Another one of our young people mentioned that they had heard a lot of offensive language while using voice chats. A lot of these games are also played by older teenagers and adults, so the language is not always appropriate for younger people.

Have you had a negative experience or relationship with online platforms in general?

We then asked our young people to think more generally about their online experiences. Have they ever had any other negative or worrying experiences online? Do they feel like they have a good relationship with using online platforms?

Some of the things that got mentioned included bullying and self-esteem issues, which can have a detrimental effect on mental health and wellbeing. One platform that got mentioned a lot was Instagram.

We had one young person tell us about an incident where someone was added to a snapchat group full of people making fun of their Instagram account posts. It was mentioned that online bullying can sometimes feel worse if you know the person or people behind it, compared to when it’s from random strangers. For example, it can be easy to ignore strangers you never see versus people you go to school with.

Someone also mentioned the fact that just because a conversation or argument starts on social media or an online gaming platform, doesn’t mean it won’t end up having real life consequences.

person using laptop

Tips for staying safe online!

Having discussed all these experiences, we then asked our young people to come up with some online safety tips for themselves and others. They came up with some great suggestions!

  • Keep your social media accounts private.
  • Don’t use voice chats in games with strangers. Turn the voice chat volume down or leave an online situation if you don’t feel comfortable.
  • Use a VPN for added security.
  • Don’t open suspicious links or messages, even from people you know!
  • Report abusive or worrying behaviour to an adult and the platform you are using.
  • Think about what you post online. Once it’s online it can be very difficult to take back or delete. Even if you do delete a post, other people might have taken screenshots and shared it elsewhere.
  • Turn off location sharing information on things like Snapchat. Or, only share this information with trusted friends and family.

Social Breaks!

Finally, we asked our young people if they ever take breaks from being online and using social media.

We were happy to hear most of them say yes, they do take breaks and think about their relationship with online platforms. One person described it as a ‘detox’, especially if you have been feeling unhappy online.

Some of our group members mentioned that doing another activity can be a good way to take a break from being online all the time. We had some young people mention doing things like going outside, exercising, doing something creative like lego or art.

We also got this great piece of advice from one of our young people: “Be the person online you want other people to be!”


Keeping Children Safe Online, NSPCC

Advice on Bullying and Online Safety, Childline.

Instagram and Child Safety, Common Sense Media.

Online Gaming, Childnet.

Join Connect Alloa

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