While the number of people sleeping rough within Glasgow remains unacceptably high, the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter will reopen tomorrow night.
The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter will provide basic emergency accommodation for those with nowhere to sleep but the street. Operated by Glasgow City Mission, the vital service runs in partnership with more than a dozen partner agencies all of whom are determined to tackle homelessness in Glasgow.
Last year saw a staggering 602 individuals use the service on 3,561 occasions between December 1st and March 31st.
With a continued shortage of suitable and accessible accommodation, a complex system and with cutbacks to social care budgets across the city, Glasgow City Mission say they are bracing themselves for another busy year.
Grant Campbell, Glasgow City Mission Chief Executive says:
“Rough sleeping in Glasgow continues to be a significant issue. There are no quick or simple fixes to homelessness sadly and long-term use of night shelters are certainly not the answer – suitable homes are.
“We have seen progress in the way in which organisations work together to tackle the problem which is to be applauded. However until more provision is made in the form of more suitable homes, systemic change at local authority level in the way homeless applications are dealt with, and more tailored support for people put in place, we cannot stand by and watch more people being forced to sleep on our city’s streets this winter.
“During the harsh winter months, it is simply too cold and too dangerous for some of our most vulnerable citizens with complex needs. Together with our partners, we want to provide a safe, warm and welcoming space for those who are forced to sleep rough in the city.
“Critically however, we want to address the root causes and secure lasting help for people in the form of a sustainable housing solution. We’ve found that not everyone knows how to access statutory homeless provision. Others have had difficulties accessing and navigating it. With our advocacy and that of our partners, we’ve managed to get people into accommodation by connecting night shelter guests to the local authority”.
This year’s Glasgow Winter Night Shelter service will once again be located at Lodging House Mission’s premises on East Campbell Street, near the city’s famous Barrowland Ballroom. Doors will open at 10pm every night including Christmas and New Year from December 1st to March 31st 2018.
Joined up service to tackle the root causes
After a safe night’s sleep in warm surroundings, breakfast is served. Guests are informed of the support services available across the city including Glasgow City Mission’s city centre project, Marie Trust, Lodging House Mission, RSVP and Simon Community Scotland’s London Road drop-in.
Crucially, Glasgow City Mission’s trained staff and volunteers seek to understand the underlying reasons for each person being homeless and connect people to Glasgow Health & Social Care Partnership homeless casework team for a homeless application to be made.
Govan Law Centre will be on hand to challenge accommodation decisions for people where they believe people are entitled to settled accommodation but are being denied this by the local authority. This year, Glasgow Health & Social Care Partnership welfare rights officers will also be deployed to help night shelter guests ensure they are receiving all that they are entitled to.
Where guests also have health issues that need addressed, staff can refer them to nearby NHS Hunter Street – a specialist clinic for people affected by homelessness and do not have access to a G.P.
Local community pulls together
Funding for the service is met by many of the partner organisations involved in the running of the shelter, plus housing associations and fundraising undertaken by Glasgow City Mission.
Two years ago, funding from Rangers Charity Foundation raised £70,000 after fans slept out on the Ibrox pitch. This enabled the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter to stay open for an addition month in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as well as pay for legal advocacy services.
Partner agencies include Turning Point Scotland, Blue Triangle Housing Association, Marie Trust, Glasgow Homelessness Network, Simon Community Scotland, Police Scotland, Community Safety Glasgow, Govan Law Centre, Health & Social Care Partnership, Shelter, Lodging House Mission, Salvas Learning and Glasgow Street Pastors.
The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter was a Finalist in The Herald Society Awards 2016 and 2014.
Earlier this week, the Scottish Government made a number of recommendations for reducing rough sleeping this winter. Commenting on this announcement, Grant Campbell said:
“Glasgow City Mission welcomes the Scottish Government announcement that it has embraced the recommendations of the Homeless Action Group. The Action Group has recognised some of the good practices and collaboration at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter. It is this type of proactive, joined up and flexible solutions that will be needed to combat homelessness”.