Winter Homeless Shelter Volunteers Braced For 'Yet Another Busy Year'

Volunteers at a winter homeless shelter are preparing for what is expected to be their busiest ever year this Christmas.

Operators of the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter said there had been an "unquestionable marked increase on the visibility of street homelessness'' in the last year and expected to exceed the record 605 people that used the service last winter.

Run by Glasgow City Mission, the East Campbell Street site opens on Thursday to provide emergency accommodation to people who have nowhere else to sleep as temperatures drop.

The free service provides a bed and breakfast for vulnerable people and volunteers work to find them support through partner organisations like housing associations, health bodies or legal aid groups.

It will remain open each night until March 31 next year and with a shortage of suitable homeless accommodation and social care cuts the mission is bracing itself for another busy year.

Chief executive Grant Campbell said: "You just need to walk around the city centre for a few minutes before you realise just how many people are now begging or sleeping rough.

"There has been an unquestionable marked increase this year on the sheer visibility of street homelessness in a way that we haven't seen in recent years.

"Last year we witnessed a near doubling of numbers - a trend that other charities across the UK also reported.

"With the continuing housing crisis and lack of suitable care being provided, all the indicators point to yet another busy year.''

"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 with complex needs.''

Funding and support for the shelter comes through individual donations and from partners including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Police Scotland, the Govan Law Centre and Glasgow Homelessness Network.

Last year, Rangers Charity Foundation raised £70,000 with a sleep out in Ibrox, helping the shelter stay open for an extra month in both 2016 and 2017.

Mr Campbell added: "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.''

Many of those who used the shelter last year were grateful for the support.

Jamie, 24, told the mission: "You can talk at any time to the staff here about anything that's on your mind.

"They're quite happy to listen to you, make sure you've got your bed sorted for the night and food in your belly - they're good people.

"Soon I plan to have my own house, have a job. I've got a wee boy and hope to be with him too. I'm hoping it gets better than worse.''

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