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About us

Who we are

We are not an org, or a service. We don’t support service users or work with ‘the homeless’. We are a community that seeks to end and prevent homelessness in a compassionate, human way without judgement.

Every person is on their own journey

The Rowan tree, which leant us it’s name, was known in Celtic mythology as The Travellers Tree because it’s protective spirit prevented travellers from getting lost. Rowan Alba provides shelter, sustenance and comfort to some of the most isolated and sigmatised people in Scottish society. Those people come from all walks of life and we never forget that adverse life experiences, particularly in childhood, can set any person on a journey which may lead them to homelessness or isolation. 

With this understanding Rowan Alba does not try to ‘fix people’ or apply rules to them. We see every person and their journey as unique and only seek outcomes that are right for them. This approach can be at odds with abstinence-focused services where sobriety is the chosen outcome for all people. We simply recognise that at times on their journey some people need to seek shelter and safety, at other times they might just need a friend to speak to for a while before they carry on their way. 

This page aims to introduce you to the groups within our community and illustrate how they support and interact with each other.

The people we support

At present, the people we support are in 3 main groups

Formerly street homeless men

We specialise in creating homes for life for men who have lived on the streets, sometimes for many years.

At our Thorntree and Thorntree Mill homes-for-life we create a supportive community where each tenant is protected by full Scottish tenancy rights. We believe this is the only place like this in the UK. 

Socially isolated people

Our CARDS Befriending service builds one-to-one relationships that end isolation

Our CARDS service matches a volunteer with a socially isolated person who may be struggling to manage their alcohol use. By visiting for just an hour a week the volunteer can bring the person back into contact with the outside world.

Women moving to independent living

Stramullion enables young women to transition from care without functioning support 

With accommodation for up to 10 women our Stramullion gives each young woman a dedicated key worker. They work together to create a personal action plan and develop key skills with the aim of independent living.

The people who make it all happen

We rely on three groups of people to make our community come alive


Our staff come from all walks of life and bring their experiences to work with them

Rowan Alba’s staff team have a huge range of skills and abilities. At heart we have a culture of Peer Support. Many of our team share lived experience with our clients. Find out more about these amazing people in our Services section.


Volunteers power every part of Rowan Alba and make us feel like anything is possible

We simply couldn’t do what we do without the energy and commitment of our volunteers. There is a volunteering role to suit everybody at Rowan Alba. Find out how you can get involved in a way which is right for you in our Volunteering section.


Professional experience and social insight gives us good governance and a human approach

Our Board members give us their skills and knowledge to make us the most effective charity we can be. Through their passion and commitment our Board enables us to create real solutions to homelessness.