Homelessness charities call on Scottish Government to act as demand for winter shelters rises

Written by Jenni Davidson on 28 April 2016 in News

Three homelessness charities are calling for action after a rise in demand for temporary winter shelters in Glasgow and Edinburgh suggests an increase in rough sleepers

Three homelessness charities have called for action after demand for temporary winter shelters in Scotland’s two largest cities rose sharply this year.

Crisis, Glasgow City Mission and Bethany Christian Trust are asking for “decisive action” from the next Scottish government following unprecedented demand for rough sleeper beds in Glasgow and Edinburgh this winter.

Glasgow City Mission saw a 94 per cent increase in demand for beds this winter and reported being full on 32 nights – something that had never happened in previous years.

An average of 33 people used the shelter on any one night, nearly double the average of 17 in 2014/15.Meanwhile, Bethany Christian Trust in Edinburgh saw a 38 per cent increase in demand compared with 2014/15, with an average of 48 people using the shelter per night.

Bethany reports that demand has risen by 131 per cent since 2013.


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As the temporary shelters close for the season, the charities warn that the figures could be a sign of rising rough sleeping, and are calling on all parties to make tackling homelessness a priority for the next parliament.

Grant Campbell, Chief Executive of Glasgow City Mission, said: “The Scottish population clearly cares a great deal about people caught up in homelessness.

“We’ve witnessed this in the way hundreds of supporters and volunteers have helped us deliver this much needed service, and for that we’re very grateful.

“We’ve witnessed a significant rise in demand for the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter, and behind every statistic is a person, a mother, father, son or daughter.

“We believe there is a significant opportunity with the upcoming elections, with public demand and political will for Holyrood, local authorities and service providers to work collaboratively to put an end to homelessness.”

Iain Gordon, Chief Executive of Bethany Christian Trust, said: “A great deal of progress has already been made in tackling homelessness in Scotland.

“However, the combination of a shortage of affordable homes, welfare reform and budget pressures mean that homelessness is still a very pressing issue in our country.”

Crisis Scotland’s ‘Manifesto to End Homelessness’ includes a series of recommendations for the next Scottish government including a new cross-departmental strategy for tackling homelessness, a more proactive approach to prevention and increased support for homeless people with complex needs.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “Scotland has blazed a trail in the fight against homelessness, yet these startling figures cannot be ignored.

“We know from official figures that around 660 people sleep rough on Scotland’s streets on any typical night, and we are concerned that the situation may have worsened in recent months.

“There is no room for complacency, which is why we are calling for decisive action from the next Scottish Government to help all homeless people.”

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