Joined up approach sees decline in Glasgow rough sleepers

Glasgow City Mission winter night shelterA joined up approach used by Glasgow City Mission has resulted in the number of people using its winter night shelter decreasing from last year’s record count.

An average of 27 homeless men and women have used the emergency shelter during December and January with a maximum capacity of 40 only being reached on three occasions so far.

Glasgow City Mission runs the service in partnership with around a dozen organisations in the city, each committed to tackling homelessness. Service delivery partners include Simon Community, Turning Point Scotland, NHS Hunter Street, Govan Law Centre, Marie Trust, Lodging House Mission, Glasgow Homelessness Network and Blue Triangle.

Chief executive Grant Campbell said part of the decrease in numbers using the service is down to having council homeless caseworkers on the premises for the first time.

He said: “In the past, our guests have often spent whole days waiting to have their application taken, only to be told by the local authority there is no accommodation available. Having caseworkers on site is meaning the whole process is being sped up and crucially, people are being housed.

“The knock-on effect of this means people are staying at the shelter for shorter periods meaning beds are freed up and available for new people to benefit from.”

Last year, Glasgow Winter Night Shelter was accessed 4,060 times by 605 people during the four months of operation. This year, the number of people using the service, for the first two months at least, is broadly similar but the number of nights they stay has halved.

The lifeline service also connects guests to nearby NHS Hunter Street, a specialist clinic in the city for homeless people, and other services in the city designed to tackle the underlying issues caused by homelessness such as Glasgow City Mission’s city centre project.

Grant added: “It’s critical that we don’t as a city get caught in a trap of having to run night shelters for evermore; they should not be an accepted part of our landscape. Currently, there is a still a need to have such an intervention sadly, however we and our partners are working hard to end street homelessness in Glasgow. That starts by bringing all the organisations around the table and having honest, hard conversations about how we can design our services to fit the people who require to use them, not the other way round.

“Too many people in Glasgow who find themselves homeless require to visit multiple service providers, complete multiple forms, and often it results in no accommodation being made available and consequently the person gives up trying.

“We’re making strong progress and having council caseworkers on the site of the night shelter this year is just one of these steps in speeding up and simplifying the process for people. But we know that more can be done.

“Collaborative working that allows quick information sharing such as the City Ambition Network demonstrates the clear advantages of working together as we’re seeing early signs of getting timely and more effective responses for people.

“We believe there is also a need for a multi-agency hub within the city which would bring the learning and best practice of the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter together to achieve better and more appropriate outcomes for the vulnerable people who use the shelter.”

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