Innovative approach to homelessness in Edinburgh
A welcome centre for homeless people in Edinburgh is planning to continue its support this winter through to next year.
The facility, operated by Bethany and the City of Edinburgh, has already supported and accommodated over 500 people and will continue to operate over Christmas until May 2023.
The Welcome Centre takes an innovative and person-centred approach, providing 24 hour tailored support for individuals all in one place. Guests receive their own en-suite room and three meals a day, including a hot evening meal prepared by volunteers.
Crucially they are also able to work with dedicated staff and visiting professional services with support to access longer term accommodation as well as on site assistance with mental health, addiction, wellbeing, health needs and accessing benefits.
Councillor Jane Meagher, the Council’s Convener of Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work, said: “When temperatures drop to this extent it’s more important than ever that we do all that we can to support anyone who may be at risk.
“With Bethany we’re operating a Welcome Centre this winter to provide an additional 65 beds for people with wrap around support, and demand for this service this winter has already been high.
“We’re also offering street-based outreach seven days a week through our partners to anyone we see rough sleeping and this involves checking in with people three times a night, specialist pharmacy and mental health services available on street and supporting people directly into Rapid Access Accommodation.
“The rise in homelessness we’re witnessing in Edinburgh is deeply concerning and the Council has a campaign to spread awareness of the support which exists for people who are struggling financially. We need to prevent more people from becoming homeless as far as we possibly can.”
Alasdair Bennett, Chief Executive at Bethany Christian Trust said increased demand made the centre more vital than ever to the city’s homeless.
“We are seeing an increase in the number of people attending and being referred for this crisis intervention, even prior to the colder weather coming in, and we are working with all partners to find alternative options when there are no available bed spaces at the Centre.
“With a focus on rapidly re-accommodating people, new bedrooms become available at a rate of about 50 each week, or 7 a day, in order to support individuals in crisis that night.
“Even when we are full we are able to provide food, warm clothing and access to support here at the Welcome Centre, so we encourage anyone who is at risk of rough sleeping that night to come and we will do all that we can to support them, including linking them up with partner agencies and local authority housing options.”
Relying on the financial support of the general public, local churches, trusts, businesses, the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government, the Welcome Centre shows what can be possible when the people of Edinburgh come together to create change.
With a large professional staff team, over 1,000 Bethany volunteers and more than 20 visiting partner services, the Welcome Centre saw remarkable success in 2021 – 2022 in helping people recover from the crisis of homelessness and move on to a more stable situation.
The service accommodated and supported over 860 individuals who had fallen into homelessness because of a wide range of circumstances as well as those rough sleeping, with 97% of known outcomes positive.