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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Housing emergency: shelter experienced its busiest ever winter


Charity has run 14 consecutive projects over the coldest months and this was by far the busiest

An overnight welcome centre for homeless people in Glasgow experienced its busiest ever winter, a new report has shown.

An operational study into the project, run by Glasgow City Mission, has underlined an escalating sense of crisis, just as the Scottish Government has declared a national housing emergency.

The charity’s Overnight Welcome Centre (OWC) ran from 1 December until 31 March, and a total of 1,091 unique guests came through its doors - that is double the number it saw in 2022/23.

The number of presentations over the four months was 4,810, which was treble the number of last year.

The charity has run 14 consecutive winter projects and this was by far the busiest.

Last season, 2022/23, it transitioned to take a new approach in hosting the OWC in its day centre building.

Instead of having beds on site, it accessed emergency beds across the city from a number of sources.

Despite some initial apprehension from some partners in the project about about taking this approach in 2022, it was a great success with over 90% of guests moving on to positive destinations.

Most eligible guests were accommodated on the night by the Out of Hours service from the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSPC).

However, as it prepared to open the OWC for the 2023/24 season, Glasgow City Council declared a housing emergency on 30 November.

As the operational report details, the consequences of the housing crisis were evident throughout the winter with an unprecedented number of guests accessing the service.

The demand for emergency beds was exceptionally high, resulting in the majority of guests not being accommodated. Instead, they had to wait inside the OWC where charity workers were able to keep them warm and safe.

The report concludes: “As we begin to prepare for the upcoming 2024/25 winter season, we are diligently re-evaluating our winter project to ensure that it can best serve those at risk of rough sleeping.

“We seek counsel and partnership from all the agencies within Glasgow, including the Scottish Government and HSCP, to strive together effectively to deliver a professionally run, safe, and compassionate service for those who fear that the street may be their only other available option.”

Read the report here:



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