On the streets: call for hostel standards

Homeless speak out over hostels

A campaign to improve the standards of hostels for the homeless in Scotland was launched this week by the organisation SpeakOut.

Urgent change is necessary according to Rachel Kennedy. development worker for SpeakOut. ‘Homeless people are 30 times more likely to kill themselves. eight times more likely to die of hypothermia and have a life expectancy of forty-seven.‘ she told the meeting.

Hostels offer a haven for those on the streets, but the rights and dignity of those accommodated are not always top of the agenda. according to delegates at SpeakOut‘s first AGM.

SpeakOut is a unique organisation. run and managed entirely by homeless people. The aim is to enable those excluded from many aspects of society to have a voice. ‘SpeakOut tells voluntary organisations the opinions and views of the homeless.‘ Robert Aldridge of the Scottish Council for the Single Homeless commented.

Since I994. SpeakOut has launched a charter of action. and lobbied parliament and local authorities for more commitment to combat homelessness. At present they are campaigning for a National Inspectorate for hostels.

‘We need to focus on the hostels.‘ stressed Kennedy. ‘there need to be standards. and inspectors who can close them if these standards are not met.‘

in the past. hostels have been criticised by residents as being havens of drug abuse. The members of SpeakOut also highlighted a lack of trained staff. health risks and the lack of privacy.

‘They don‘t treat you like human beings.‘ one homeless man claimed. ‘Hostels need to be changed.‘ a homeless woman demanded. to applause from the audience. ‘to ensure human rights and dignity.‘

The Charter demands that hostel rules should be decided ‘on the basis of general consent. not imposed from above‘. It also calls for clear standards on accommodation. and adequate training for hostel staff. (James Blake)

New event showcases live arts in Glasgow

Glasgow’s rich cultural tapestry is to be promoted by a new venture which aims to showcase dance and cinema alongside opera and comedy.

The organisers claim Bruce’s Big Night In will offer a chance for culture vultures of all persuasions to get a taster of what is coming up in the city each month, in an informal nightclub environment.

Supported by The list, the regular event will be hosted by veteran Scottish comic Bruce Morton, In the Arches, on the first Monday of every month, and has already won the backing of many of the city’s arts companies.

The opening night will feature contributions from the Glasgow Film Theatre (GET), the Beat Poets, Chocolate Art and High Doh Theatre.

Regular attractions include resident band Mylc and Morton himself.

The stand-up says he will be breaking with tradition - by sitting down. ‘I thought it would be nice to do it like the Jay leno show. I’m going to be on the sofa filling in between the acts’, he said. ‘I hope to interview artists and there will be competitions, games and all sorts of malarkey.’

The idea of giving performers a platform to promote their wares while providing the audience with a kind of instant cabaret is not new according to lleil Mowat, events manager at the


‘Something similar happened at the Spiegeltent at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. It is a chance for the artists to meet, chat and enjoy themselves and for the audience to get a slice ot what is happening in the city.’

With many venues closed on a Monday, the organisers believe they have the ideal set-up. Performers are at a loose end, and punters have nowhere to go. At a flat rate of five pounds, Mowat claims tickets are a bargain.

‘You get a set from compare Bruce Morton, a resident band and a completely cross-arts experience from comedy to opera. A month in the life of Glasgow and you are seeing it for a fiver.’

Dne of the organisations involved, the GET, planned to send along trailers for their December programme, but then got more inventive.

‘We thought trailers alone might be a bit flat and dull compared with everything else,’ said GFT spokeswoman llicola Pearson. ‘We thought it would be more interesting to make a “new film” from the films showing in December.’

As a result, a fifteen minute tape combining the ‘best bits’ from films including IShot Andy Warhol, le Bonheur, and American Buffan will be shown on a giant screen.

According to Morton, the event should appeal to anyone with an interest in the arts who is open to new experiences. ‘lt’s like The List live, but with better jokes and no aromatherapy adverts,’ he concluded. (Stephen llaysmith)

Braces Dig flight In is at the Arch”, Monday 2 December and the first Monday of every month excluding 6 January (£5).

Bruce Morton: malarkey

M80 plan gets black marks from greens

Five protected species in Scotland‘s Central Belt are threatened by a proposed motorway route. according to leading environmentalists.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) have named six species of plants and animals as conservation priorities. but say colonies of five of them could be wiped out by the road.

The red squirrel is the only species unaffected. which prompted ironic acclaim from SWT campaigns co- ordinator Nigel Doar: ‘lf anyone can find red squirrels on the proposed route. we‘ll award the Scottish office six out of six and a gold star.‘ he said.

The Scottish Office are likely to decide before the end of the year whether to extend the M80 motorway through the Kelvin Valley or upgrade

the existing A80 to motorway status.

The SWT oppose both options. They claim the Kelvin Valley route. costing betweeen £I28m and £l43m. could destroy the homes of the otter. barn owl. butterfly orchid. the pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly and the sundew. The Antonine Wall. one of Scotland‘s most important archaeological features. also runs across the valley.

According to Doar. the Kelvin Valley is one ofthe few remaining pleasant. unurbanised stretches of countryside in central Scotland.

The SWT also oppose the second proposed route which would mean a dual four-lane motorway. running close to houses in Cumbernauld.

They are proposing a third option for consideration by the Scottish Office.

They argue congestion could be reduced on the A80 by adding a hard shoulder. improving safety at accident blackspots and removing a roundabout which causes traffic to bottleneck. with allied investment in public transport and moving freight traffic to rail.

However. the Scottish Office promise that. were the Kelvin Valley route chosen. environmental impact would be taken into account. ‘We already have badger tunnels on the M8 extension and otter provisions at the Skye Bridgc.‘ said a Scottish Office spokesman.

'Anyone who claims we would build a road through the Kelvin Valley without giving any consideration to the environment clearly isn‘t paying attention to what we are doing on other routes.‘ he added. (Peter Ross)

Scottish literary greats remembered

Sorley Maclean, champion of the Gaelic language and one of Scotland’s most renowned poets will be remembered this week at an event originally intended as a birthday celebration.

Maclean was 85 when he died of a brief illness last weekend, and the tribute will now go ahead as a commemoration. ‘It will be a celebration of Scots and Gaelic,’ said .loy llendry, who as editor of Chapman magazine provided Maclean with an early plattorm for his work in Gaelic.

Tones Di Destiny, at the Assembly llooms in Edinburgh, will include readings from poets Aonghas Maclleacail and Iain Crichton Smith,

piping, and readings from Maclean’s own work.

‘lle was undoubtedly a great European poet,’ llendry adds. ‘lle had the courage to write in what he saw then as a dying language. What he achieved was a centrestage presence for Gaelic nationally.’

Meanwhile, last week the old guard of Scottish theatre remembered playwright George Dyatt, after his death from cancer. Tom Conti and John McGrath were among those who attended a religion-free memorial for the author of works of epic power such as The Bras and The Clyde is lied.

Despite being seen as a major figure

by Scottish theatre insiders, Dyatt’s work was never produced by a major theatre company during his lifetime.

Actor Tarn Dean Burn worked with Byatt while still a drama student. ‘In terms of theatre he’s been the biggest influence on me,’ he said, calling for a revival of Dyatt’s work.

‘It would be a good way of taking his memory forward, although it would’ve been good to do the plays while he was still alive.’ (lleil Cooper and Stephen llaysmith)

Tones DI Destiny is at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Thurs 28 Ilov, 7.30pm, £8 (£5). Proceeds go to Chapman magazine’s National lottery application fund.

4 The List 29 Nov-l2 Dec I996