Busiest ever winter for homeless care shelter

Crop homeless shelter

 The Edinburgh-based facility has supported hundreds of people who were faced with the crisis of rough sleeping

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17th May 2019 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

This winter, 746 people have accessed the winter care shelter run by homelessness charity Bethany Christian Trust – making this it’s busiest ever season.

For the past 32 weeks, the Edinburgh-based facility has supported hundreds of people who were faced with the crisis of rough sleeping.

Providing a safe place to sleep, a hot meal and a range of support from experienced staff and 12 partner agencies, the shelter has prepared a total of 15,680 meals and provided 13,118 bed spaces for people who would otherwise have been sleeping rough in Edinburgh.

The shelter is currently operated by a team of 14 professional support staff and relies on around 1,000 volunteers from 72 churches across the Lothians. 

This year’s fixed season location at Diadem on Gorgie Road ensured that Bethany staff could offer much improved facilities and a safe and warm night’s sleep to people who are faced with the crisis of rough sleeping.

The care shelter regularly supported over 70 individuals a night during the coldest months and averaged 59 people nightly across the whole season.

Started in Edinburgh in 1996 with a two-week pilot over Christmas, Bethany’s Care Shelter has grown to 32 weeks in response to need and is a lifeline for hundreds of people who would otherwise be forced to sleep outside in the cold. 

To date, the it has provided over 104,000 bed spaces in total, with over 13,000 beds provided this past season alone.

Alasdair Bennett, chief executive of Bethany Christian Trust, said: “We live in challenging times, in a contrast between aspiration and present reality, between what everyone knows shouldn’t be the case and what is the case on our own streets. 

“The collective cross-sector motivation to end homelessness is very high, and yet we have seen a greater number of unique individuals supported at the Care Shelter in 2019 than in any previous year. Greater investment and action is needed by all of us to reverse this trend.”

Care shelter manager Ruth Longmuir added: “The care shelter exists to prevent people from having to sleep rough during the coldest months when there is a potential risk to life. Sadly, this has been the busiest season for the care shelter since it began 22 winters ago. 

“The care shelter meets an immediate and urgent need and provides multiple pathways out of homelessness for people in a rough sleeping crisis. We are grateful to our partner organisations who visit the care shelter on a regular basis and provide specialist support including medical, employment, housing support and advice.”