The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter continues to provide much needed emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Glasgow. Figures released today show that 356 individuals have accessed the shelter on 1,870 occasions during December and January – a 5% rise in the number of people and 14% rise in number of accesses compared with the same period last year.
Expectations are that the remaining two months of this year’s service will also see high, but similar numbers to last year.
Conversations take place throughout the night and into the morning between staff and guests to ensure we are doing all that we can to help guests move forwards into settled accommodation and that they can access the healthcare and other services that they require.
Accommodation, legal work and healthcare secured
We are delighted to report that we and our partners have been able to secure accommodation for the vast majority of guests within three nights of them staying at the shelter. In addition, guests are signposted to additional help available from services across the city including Glasgow City Mission’s City Centre project, Marie Trust, Lodging House Mission, Turning Point Scotland and Simon Community Scotland.
A total of 94 guests have been connected to Govan Law Centre so far who in turn have been able to overturn accommodation decisions and also provide other forms of advice including benefit entitlements. Shelter Scotland has also provided significant legal help to a number of guests.
Some 111 guests have met with NHS Hunter Street nursing staff during the first two months. Although the clinic is based just around the corner, this year we have been delighted to have nurses come to the shelter resulting in more shelter guests engaging and having their health needs met. General health care, wound care plus advice and signposting have been provided.
Whilst the night shelter has provided safe accommodation for hundreds of people, many of whom have moved forwards into accommodation and other support services, it would be wrong to give the impression that everything always works out perfectly for the people who use the shelter.
Stark reminder more must be done
Tragically one man in his forties passed away in his sleep whilst using the night shelter. Staff called paramedics but who were unable to revive the man. Grant Campbell, Chief Executive said: “This is a sharp reminder that life expectancy for people who sleep rough is only 47. Sometimes the levels of brokenness and despair experienced by our guests can be heart-breaking, none more so than this. The night shelter has saved many lives but tragically this has been the first death. Whilst we take a small crumb of comfort that this tragedy at least occurred within the night shelter where medical services could be quickly called upon and not out on the streets, it breaks the hearts of everyone connected to the shelter.
“It spurs us on however to ensure more is done at all levels of society to prevent such despair and find suitable help and support more readily for people”.
> Read ‘Reflections on my evening at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter’ blog from Baptist Minister Simon Dennis who spent the night at the shelter. He recounts the stories of the people he met and what the bible has to say about compassion.