A Visit to Glasgow’s Winter Night Shelter
I want Scotland to be a place where no-one faces the dangerous prospect of sleeping rough and where everyone has a place they can call home.
Over the last year we have put in place a number of measures – both practical and financial – to make sure we do everything we can to protect some of the most vulnerable people who are sleeping rough, particularly in winter.
We have enabled frontline workers to assist people off the streets through the introduction of personal and flexible emergency funds so they can get people quickly into accommodation, keeping them safe and warm, while they explore longer term solutions for people’s specific circumstances.
We have worked with local organisations to increase temporary, emergency and night shelter accommodation so that everyone would be safe and warm during the harshest weather conditions.
Earlier this month I visited the winter night shelter in Glasgow and met staff and volunteers from the Simon Community and Glasgow City Mission. I heard from the Simon Community Hub street team about their experiences of outreach work and what they do to support people who are sleeping rough get into temporary accommodation and helping those with complex needs access the right services.
It was clear to see the team is dedicated and even though they face complicated and challenging situations every day, they always treat everyone with care and respect.
Every night from December to March, Glasgow City Mission staff open a night shelter in Glasgow’s east end, supported by a range of volunteers from local churches.
Together they ensure a safe, warm and clean place for people who might otherwise be sleeping rough to find a bed for the night, as well as food, support and company. I was overwhelmed by the compassion of the staff, who have seen it all and again treat everyone with dignity and respect.
It was great to hear from staff that a more integrated approach to dealing with homelessness is really working in Glasgow. Different organisations, the NHS, Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland are all working in partnership to support people sustainably out of rough sleeping and to put their lives back together.
I know that, day in, day out, many front line workers go that extra mile to ensure people get the right support in the right place, at the right time and I’m hugely grateful for all that they do and I’d like to record my deep felt thanks to them, particular over the Christmas period.
Whether it is providing food or warmth or checking the welfare of those people on the streets I know that organisations – and their staff and volunteers – change the lives of homeless people for the better.