“God stepped in,” said Alfie, describing a particularly chaotic night at this year’s Glasgow Winter Night Shelter.
He was speaking at a service of thanksgiving for the night shelter, pictured below, which closed its doors for another winter on 31 March. People from churches across Glasgow gathered at Parkhead Nazarene on Sunday evening to give thanks for all the people the night shelter has helped, to reflect on the work that has been done, and to pray for the needs of those in our city who do not yet have a home.
Alfie was one of the staff members at the night shelter this year. On the night he was describing he was the team leader. There had been a powercut, which in turn set off alarms, and then a man arrived with serious health needs and a large bag of medicine. Feeling stressed and inadequate, Alfie stepped outside to pray.
When he came back in, he went to speak to the church volunteers. “What is it you do?” he asked one of the volunteers. “I’m a pharmacist.” He was exactly the person needed to help the man with his medicine. God stepped in.
Recognising that the successful running of the night shelter would not have been possible without prayer and God’s intervention was a key theme of the thanksgiving service. As was the importance of everyone doing their bit, from the Project Manager to the staff team to all of the church volunteers and regular volunteers.
Chris, one of the church volunteers, spoke about meeting Tony, who he invited to church and who has now been baptised. Chris along with other church members prayed with Tony that he would find accommodation. That same evening when he went back to the night shelter he was told accommodation had been found and a taxi was waiting to take him there.
The need for prayer and for everyone to work together as we continue to tackle rough sleeping in Glasgow were the themes that Grant Campbell, our Chief Executive, spoke powerfully about. He described the mixed emotions of closing the night shelter and the difficult decision not to run it year round.
He said that night shelters should not become permanent features, as people “need to wake up in homes”. To that end, Glasgow City Mission is working hard, along with other agencies and the Local Authority, to end rough sleeping in Glasgow.
Grant shared about initiatives such as a new multi-agency hub which has been given permission to go ahead and will see agencies working together to get people into appropriate accommodation. They will also be able to get support for any other issues they are facing, such as addictions or poor mental health, at the same time.
He also spoke about the City Ambition Network (CAN), of which we are a founding member, and which works with the most vulnerable and chaotic men and women in Glasgow to help them find and maintain tenancies. CAN has recently received significant funding which will allow it to work with more people.
We look forward to sharing more about these initiatives as they take shape in the coming months.