Letter to Editor: Funding of winter night shelters

Shelter Scotland’s Gordon MacRae argues that new funding for winter night shelters is a symbol of a failed homelessness system.

Gordon MacRae

Dear Editor

Last week the Scottish Government announced its latest round of funding for winter night shelters to accommodate people sleeping on our streets during the cold winter months.

These shelters are mainly provided by charities and community organisations who step in when people have nowhere else to go and should be commended for their efforts.

But it begs the question that three years after the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) was convened, why are night shelters needed at all?

Night shelters are a symbol of a failed homelessness system where people struggle to access their legal right to decent temporary accommodation. They are the most visible sign of Scotland’s housing emergency and their continued existence is not a matter for celebration but a badge of shame on how we continue to fail those in need of support. Last year many night shelters were too full to accommodate everyone and yet twelve months later we don’t appear to have addressed the problem.

Much more work needs to be done to stop homelessness in the first place rather than having to deal with the consequences of it. Let’s aim that by next winter we can consign winter night shelters to history.

  • Gordon MacRae is head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland

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