A lifeline accommodation service for Glasgow’s rough sleepers is once again opening it’s doors to people in the city with nowhere else to turn. It will stay open until March 31st – an extra month than normal due to demand.

The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter will provide basic emergency accommodation for those with nowhere to sleep but the street.  The service is operated by Glasgow City Mission but it is a partnership made up of a variety of different organisations in the city including, Turning Point Scotland, all determined to tackle homelessness in Glasgow.

This year’s service will relocate to Lodging House Mission’s premises on East Campbell Street, near the city’s famous Barrowland Ballroom.

Tackling the root causes

After a safe night’s sleep in warm surroundings, breakfast is served. Service users are informed of the support services available across the city including Glasgow City Mission’s city centre project, Marie Trust, RSVP and Simon Community Scotland’s London Road drop-in.

Crucially, trained staff and volunteers seek to understand the underlying reasons for each person being homeless and connect people to Glasgow City Council’s Hamish Allan Centre where homelessness applications are made.

Where service users also have health issues that need addressed, staff can also refer them to nearby NHS Hunter Street  – a specialist clinic for people affected by homelessness and do not have access to a G.P.

Now in its sixth year, demand for the service is expected to remain high. Last year, 407 individuals benefited from the night shelter during the three months of its operation – a 10% rise on the previous year. Many reported how thankful they were for a place like the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter for being available in their time of need.

‘Peter’, not his real name, used the night shelter last year. He said to staff he preferred to be called by his nickname: “I’m a street boy. I don’t deserve to have a name. If it wasn’t for this place I’d have killed myself. For the first time in my life I feel like there’s people that care about me.”

Grant Campbell, Chief Executive, Glasgow City Mission said:

“We believe no one should ever have to sleep rough on our city streets but sadly we know from experience that this occurs all too often. During the harsh winter months, it is simply too cold and too dangerous for some of our most vulnerable citizens. 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 it. With our advocacy and that of our partners, we’ve managed to get people into housing by connecting night shelter patrons to the local authority.

“We’re also pleased to be able to offer a range of enhanced services this year. By relocating to East Campbell Street, there is no longer a need to send service users back out to the cold in the morning. The service now links up with additional support within the same premises and is located just around the corner from NHS Homelessness services”.

Funding from the Rangers Charity Foundation will pay for legal work to take place in the event that service users are refused accommodation or have been unfairly evicted by their landlord. The Foundation have also pledged support which will allow the duration of the project to be extended by an extra month.

Staffed by full time workers from Glasgow City Mission and a dedicated team of trained volunteers, the service will open its doors at 10pm every night from Tuesday 1st December.

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 and Lodging House Mission.

The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter was a Finalist in The Herald Society Awards 2014.

It has operated each winter 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.