NHS Scotland urges housing to be made a human right

A recent Shelter campaign reinforces the belief that everyone should access to a safe and affordable home.

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NHS Scotland has announced the adoption of Shelter Scotland’s Charter for Change as part of a commitment to recognising housing as a human right.

The Charter, which urges organisations to work together to make a home for everyone in Scotland a reality, comes as part of Shelter’s recently launched housing rights campaign, Are you with us?

According to today’s announcement, as a key determinant of health, the right to an adequate standard of housing is “inextricably linked” with the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

The announcement also coincides with a recent joint-report that calls for improving the “consistency” in what people experience across different types of housing tenure.

The Shelter campaign outlines significant gaps in housing legislation, with existing laws showing no legally enforceable right to a safe and secure home.

The group is also campaigning for a Scotland where:

  • Stronger laws ensure there is a right to a safe, secure, and affordable homes for all
  • Everyone knows and can defend their housing rights
  • Laws are not broken and rights are upheld

By adopting the Charter, NHS Scotland says it is recognising housing as a human right and showing a commitment to help make the changes Scotland needs.

Matt Lowther, head of place and equity, NHS Health Scotland, said: “A secure home is an important foundation to living a long, healthy life.

“Housing influences our start in life, opportunities in adulthood, and independence as we age.

“By adopting the Charter for Change, we’re making a commitment to work together to ensure that everyone has a safe, secure, and affordable home.

“With partners, we’re striving to empower those whose home is a risk to their health so that they know and can defend their housing rights.

“This is an important part of ensuring that people can protect and improve their health – it will also help to address health inequalities.”

He added: “To do this, in the coming months, we’ll explore the impact of power on health, the role of trauma informed practices in the housing sector and how allocating social housing can promote health and wellbeing.

“We’re working nationally and locally through our housing and inclusion health programmes to influence public health policy to do this.

“We must take every opportunity to work together for a Scotland where everyone has a place to feel safe, no one chooses between food and rent, and no one faces sleeping rough.

“This is the kind of compassionate, humane, and progressive approach the charter calls for, and we’re proud to sign up to it.”

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