After a recent heatwave, my thermometer has finally settled back into the 20s when I sit down to speak to Pedro from his desk location in Perth and Kinross. Normally based in Glasgow, where he’s called home for the last decade, he’s no stranger to other parts of Scotland having lived in a total of 27 houses in his lifetime. I ask him which parts of Scotland he is familiar with and find out he’s lived in homes from the Highlands to the Isle of Mull, from Aberdeen to Glasgow, so plenty of inside knowledge on what life is like living in these areas.

First working with HOS as an associate at events, Pedro moved into an administrative role before taking on the Client Communications Manager role. Since June 2021, Pedro has been working to change the perception of homelessness and increase understanding of what homelessness is in his role as Engagement Coordinator for HOS’ Homeless Housing Options service. Pedro also supports the team as an IDEA champion. This means he highlights information on Inclusion, Diversity, Equalities and Accessibility so the team can be as current as possible in this area.

Pedro speaks enthusiastically about what the Homeless Housing Options Engagement Coordinator role involves

“engaging with all sides of the homelessness sector whether that is housing providers and local authorities… third sector organisations or our clients or prospective clients. My role is to engage as far as possible our service. One of the focuses of that is around changing perceptions of what homelessness means particularly homelessness meaning more than just rough sleeping or being roofless”

Pedro spends time having conversations with people, delivering training and focus groups, writing case studies and

“raising the voices and the lived experience of those who have faced homelessness”

The first twelve months of the project have clearly been busy. I ask about the biggest challenges HOS’ clients face and Pedro says

“a lack of general understanding of what homelessness means and whether they qualify for homelessness support from their local authority essentially. I think people have an idea in their head of what it means to be homeless and who is entitled to support and quite often that assumption can be wrong”

Pedro goes on to say

“Within Scotland each local authority has different ways of dealing with homelessness they have different methods of doing that so there’s not just one standardised way of dealing with homelessness. I think that presents challenges to people as well. And even just a general lack of accessible accommodation is a big challenge for people but ultimately I think knowledge is the key thing – people don’t know what they are entitled to, what their rights are and how to go about receiving that but I would also say in general terms the challenge is the limited resources that just about every local authority has to provide permanent and temporary accommodation”

I can see from Pedro’s knowledge of his work that HOS’ Homeless Housing Options clients can face an impossible puzzle on what to do and who to speak to right at a time of high stress in their lives.

Pedro tells me that he’s experienced homelessness himself, in his 20s, living in a cupboard in a friend’s flat for a few months so he identifies with the challenges HOS’ homeless clients face. I ask him what he thinks are important in a home and he tells me security and comfort, and I remind him not to forget somewhere that Angus (Pedro’s dog) can stay, and Pedro laughs. Angus is a 6 year old Cavalier spaniel/Bichon frise who lives with Pedro. HOS have adopted Angus as a sort of HOS mascot, he often features on their social media pages.

Aside, from his four-legged work companion I ask Pedro what he likes about his job and he tells me he loves working with a team of people where everyone works hard but enjoys their work too. He also likes the difference he makes in his role

“I like feeling like I’ve made something a bit better for someone or made a bit of a difference or done something worthwhile with my day and I definitely feel like that almost every day I’m working at HOS”

I ask Pedro about the flexible way in which HOS works, where staff can choose their hours and work pattern, Pedro tells me that it works well for him so he can fit in other areas in his life

“Flexibility is the best thing for me, working from home and flexible working hours really suits me…”

Pedro is a professional musician recording under the name Man of the Minch and has a role as an Equalities consultant. He also runs an organisation for LGBTQ+ musicians called Bogha-Frois where he organises a safe space to perform and collaborate.

“I’ve been really lucky that HOS has been very accommodating with my conflicting schedules”

So what’s up next for the Homeless Housing Options service? Some partnership working with Cache (the Centre for collaborative housing research) will include a series of interviews with housing professionals around equalities taking the form of blogs and podcasts and a new “Homeless First Aid” project helps organisations to highlight the hidden signs of homelessness and how to help. More generally, the team will continue to reach out to councils and other organisations to find new ways of working to highlight the issues HOS’ clients are facing.

I’m quietly thinking I will enjoy tuning into a podcast with Pedro as he’s very easy to listen to as he talks about his work and interests and I make a mental note to tune in to whatever is produced. Just before we finish up I ask Pedro about his favourite home from the 27 he has lived in. He tells me of a property on the Rothiemurchus Estate he stayed in when he was a child. On a nearby loch he could swim out to a castle. He describes it as an idyllic location and a beautiful house. I am left with a feeling of peace as I imagine it and am reminded that the work of Housing Options Scotland is so important so everyone can experience their own peace and comfort and a place to call home.

If you want to find out more about the Homeless Housing Options project at HOS give Pedro a call on 07740 265 182. His knowledge and understanding of homelessness coupled with his passion for his work will mean making that call is worthwhile.