This picture of Adam and the guests on their bikes makes me smile. Adam is smiling, and there is a sense of energy and joyfulness in this photo. They look like they are connecting with each other, and making memories. In fact, lockdowns and restrictions created an opportunity when many people rediscovered or discovered for the first time the benefits of getting out on their bikes. Cycling means that we engage with our surroundings in a different way than any other form of movement.
It’s the beginning of February 2022. Much like any other day of the year, we do not know what’s ahead. But we have a choice, about how we respond to our upcoming circumstances. Here at Glasgow City Mission, we are choosing daily to respond like these cyclists, with forward movement, with wonder and surprise at the possibilities of the journey, and with a determination to face challenges head on. The only guarantee any of us can make about life, is that we do not know what is coming. But we are able to prepare for what is ahead in the choices we make, like choosing to be thankful, being kind, taking opportunities, and to have fun while learning and growing.
At our City Centre project, we work with people at their own pace, and success looks different for each individual. People set their own goals that they want to achieve, and these goals can include tackling addictions, securing permanent accommodation or finding work. We aim to make everyone feel welcome and valued – many of our guests can feel ignored by society and have very low self-esteem – and support them to achieve their goals. We look back at 2021 at the tangible reality that many of our guests set their own goals, and some were able to achieve them with great success.
In Govan, our Child and Family Centre supported more than 100 vulnerable children and their families each week in 2021. We saw an increase in work with international guests who are coming to Glasgow and especially the Govan area. We hosted ESOL lessons to help them learn or develop their use of English to allow our guests to more easily integrate into the community. We also started a sewing club for international ladies who are using the club to make clothes for their children.
The Overnight Welcome Centre (OWC) witnessed another busy season last year, operating from 1 December 2020 to 31 March 2021. For the first time, we hosted the OWC in a city centre hotel. This move away from 40 mattresses on a hall floor gave dignity and privacy to our guests who had an en-suite room of their own. We also introduced a new role of Housing Support Officer, who followed up with our guests after they left the OWC and ensured that they were supported to move out of temporary accommodation into something more stable.
As we move forward in 2022, as our work in the City Centre builds back up again after restrictions, we are reexploring how the needs of the communities we serve may have changed and how we ought to adapt in response. We are looking to rebuild our team by recruiting for a number of key positions, rethinking our approach to the growing internationals work, and relocating hospitality at the centre of our work again.
We are progressing with plans to increase our presence in Elder Park, beside the Child and Family Centre, and we are exploring areas of all-age ministry into which we could be effective. The Child and Family Centre nursery continues to operate in partnership with the local Education Authority, and we are advancing with plans to upgrade the premises through 2022.
We continue to inspire and demonstrate a model for working with some of our country’s most challenging cases through our OWC project. We have demonstrated a model of humanising welcome and acceptance married to follow-up care and signposting, which could be the way forward for every city seeking to meaningfully tackle entrenched issues of revolving-door homelessness presentations. Like the cyclists learning on their journey, we face new challenges with confidence, compassion and faith.
Marketing & Fundraising