Glasgow and Edinburgh charities report surge in demand
Demand for Scotland’s homeless shelters has shot through the roof.
Glasgow City Mission and the Bethany Christian Trust have reported there shelters in Glasgow and Edinburgh have increased by 94% and by 38% respectively.
The Glasgow charity was full on 32 nights in 2015/16 – something which the it says has never happened in previous years.
Open from 1 December 2015 to 31 March 2016, it housed an average of 33 people each night compared to just 17 in 2014/15. It had 605 different people looking for a place to stay.
In Edinburgh, The Bethany Christian Trust saw an average of 48 people using its shelter from the end of October 2015 to late April 2016.
Behind every statistic is a person, a mother, father, son or daughter
Over that period it had 684 unique individuals filling 9,072 beds up from 6,552 the previous year.
Glasgow City Mission chief executive Grant Campbell said: “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.
“This is not just an issue around housing, but health also, and we should assume and be prepared for solutions which require a brave, determined and concerted effort by all.”
Iain Gordon, chief executive of Bethany Christian Trust, added: “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.”
Homelessness charity Crisis says the damning statistics are further evidence that the next Scottish Government must do more to tackle homelessness.
Among demands the charity made in its recent manifesto is for cross party support for an increase in support to be offered for people with complex needs and for there to be a time limit placed on how long someone can be housed in temporary accommodation.
Chief executive Jon Sparkes 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.”