Charity awarded £300k to provide hotel accommodation for rough sleepers



Simon Community Scotland has been awarded £300,000 of Scottish Government funding to purchase hotel accommodation to house homeless people in Edinburgh and Glasgow to keep them safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Glasgow City Mission was forced into an early closure of its Winter Night Shelter, which provides urgent accommodation over the winter months to the city’s homeless, amid the growing crisis.

The closure was carried out even earlier after one guest and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

In closing the facility, Charles Maasz, chief executive of the Glasgow City Mission, called on Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government to act urgently to provide hotel accommodation for vulnerable people, allowing them to isolate themselves safely in line with public health guidelines.

Now, Simon Community Scotland has confirmed that the wheels are in motion to do just that.

Lorraine McGrath, chief executive, told Scottish Housing News: “We are in the most challenging of times for people who have nowhere safe to sleep and live, Simon Community Scotland is doing all we can and much more to give folks as much safety as possible. We are delighted that both hotel groups and the Scottish Government have come together with us to make this possible for many in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“We are now working closely with our local authority partners to get everything in place to ensure everyone is as safe as possible and they have access to the support and care they need. 

“We do need more resources to help though, we desperately need hand gel, gloves and maks. We also need more funds, toiletries, basic mobile phones and top ups, pyjamas and underwear and we are launching an appeal later today to ask for public support, please go to our website for details.”

Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, has written to the Scottish Government asking for urgent, direct support to be given to all councils to allow them to purchase accommodation for vulnerable groups as the coronavirus crisis continues.

In the letter to housing minister Kevin Stewart, Ms McNeill acknowledged that some measures would require urgent action from the UK Government, but has asked for clarity about what will be put in place by the Scottish Government.

She said: “The Welsh Government has announced an additional £10m for each local authority to secure accommodation for those without a home at this time of national emergency.

“This includes refugees and asylum seekers as well as victims of domestic abuse and homeless people.

“If implemented here, such an initiative would allow councils to block purchase B&Bs or hotel rooms, for example and would provide vulnerable individuals and families to have a safe place to self-isolate or recuperate if required along with the necessary support they need.”

Commenting on the situation in Glasgow, Alison Watson, deputy director, Shelter Scotland, said: “Our sympathies go to the two people affected and their friends and colleagues. We wish them a quick and full recovery.

“It is not acceptable in a country with some of the most progressive homelessness legislation in the world, which should guarantee homeless people proper emergency accommodation at all times, that even in a pandemic this was not implemented. You can’t stay home if you don’t have one.

“There should be no need for night shelters. There should be better. Now and forever. Glasgow’s homelessness services were not fit for purpose before this crisis and must not be allowed to become an even greater danger to vulnerable clients or those around them. The Scottish Government must intervene to fulfil the promises it has made.

“We also call for the usual limits to migrants with no recourse to public funds to be given equal support for now. The hostile environment puts people into situations of destitution on our streets at the best of times. We urge a more compassionate approach in these awful times.”

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