Charities are urging people not to forget about the plight of Glasgow’s rough sleepers now that the festive season of goodwill is a fading memory.

A group of organisations who pull together to provide emergency accommodation are reporting a rise in the numbers of people seeking a roof over their head at night, following the New Year period.

Despite Glasgow avoiding the worst of the winter snow and ice in other parts of the country, temperatures in the city still drop below freezing at night.

In the first six weeks since it opened in early December, the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter has welcomed 220 people seeking refuge from the cold, corresponding to over 500 overnight stays.

Based at the Shieling building on McAlpine Street off The Broomielaw, the shelter provides mats and sleeping bags for the night, in a warm and safe space, together with snacks, hot drinks and breakfast in the morning.

Staffed by full time workers at the Glasgow City Mission and a dedicated team of trained volunteers, the service is a partnership funded by some of the city’s charities and voluntary sector agencies including Glasgow City Mission who coordinate operations at the Shieling building, Turning Point Scotland, Blue Triangle Housing Association, Marie Trust, Glasgow Homelessness Network, Glasgow Housing Association, Glasgow Simon Community, Gowrie Care, Emmaus, Shelter Scotland, Aspire and Lodging House Mission.

Night Shelter Manager Mitchum Bock said:

“As we expected, we have seen a rise in the number of people using the service following the end of the festive period.

Quite often relatives or friends offer folk a sofa or spare bed during the Christmas period out of the goodness of their hearts because they cannot bear the thought of them out on the streets while everyone else enjoys the festive period.  But once the festive period passes people cannot always extend their generosity further.

We have seen on average a 50% increase in the numbers requiring our service since early January and while the numbers of individuals is relatively small, around 20 per night, we know not everyone who is sleeping rough will arrive at our door and more may need help.

One story that sticks in my mind was that of a 19 year old woman who stayed with us at the start of January.  This was her first experience of homelessness and when she arrived at our door she was visibly scared and unsure of whether it was safe to stay at the shelter.  Our staff reassured her that everyone’s safety was our priority and that she would be looked after.  She came into the shelter and talked with staff into the night before settling down to sleep.  She commented the next morning that she had had the best night’s sleep she had had in a while.  Through our connections with other agencies, after two nights with us she was accommodated in suitable housing.   This is a wonderful example of how we hope the shelter can be of help to people at their point of need and be a stepping stone to ongoing housing and support.”

The intention is to keep the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter open until February 24, 2013.    Anyone can make a donation towards the shelter by texting “NITE13” and the amount (e.g. “£10”) to 70070.

 

Ends

Interviews with Mitchum Bock and to arrange filming/photography for the shelter can be arranged through Graham Steven, Marketing & Fundraising Manager, Glasgow City Mission, 20 Crimea Street, Glasgow, G2 8PW

0141 221 2630 graham.steven@glasgowcitymission.com

You can follow updates on twitter using #wintershelter

Or for an alternative contact Andy Dewar, Marketing & Communications Officer, 54 Govan Road, Glasgow, G51 1JL, 0141 427 9425 andydewar@turningpointscotland.com

 

Editors Note:

The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter has been operating through the winter months every year since 2010 through a partnership of some of the leading voluntary and charitable organisations in the city, as an emergency response to the harsh weather in 2010, where the service provided accommodation on some 2000 occasions.

Now in its third year, the demand for the service remains constant, last year it was accessed over 1500 times by around 250 people, for the 12 weeks it was open. *

*Data collected by the Glasgow Homelessness Network