Soup kitchen reissues plea for safe space after knife crime incidents

Glasgow City Council has previously offered the project two facilities but these have been deemed 'unsuitable'.

Glasgow charity soup kitchen Homeless Project Scotland call for safe space after knife crime incidents STV News

A Glasgow soup kitchen is urging the city council to find them a suitable indoor location following two knife crime incidents in the space of a week.

Colin McInnes, chairman of the Homeless Project Scotland, which is based under Central Bridge in Glasgow, has reissued a plea for a warm and watertight space in the city centre for volunteers to serve food and provide support to the most vulnerable residents. 

It comes following an incident on Saturday, November 19, at around 8.40pm when a 22-year-old man who had allegedly been “stabbed three times” on Argyle Street collapsed in front of the charity volunteers.

The previous week, a 37-year-old man was taken to hospital after being reportedly slashed while attending the soup kitchen at around 8.30pm on Sunday, November 13.

Both men were taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to receive treatment.

Following these attacks, Colin McInnes, chairman of the charity, said these incidents highlighted the reason the charity needs a building to bring people inside to keep them warm and safe. 

Mr McInnes said: “We would like the council to offer us a suitable space within the city centre so we can feed people who need it.

“We have previously held demonstrations outside the city chambers, we have put a lot of pressure on the council to find a solution but they don’t seem to be able to find us one.”

Glasgow City Council has previously offered the project two facilities but these have been deemed “unsuitable”.

Mr McInnes added: “We have basically been asking for a building since June 2021. We have been telling the council that we want to bring people off the streets and indoors for multiple reasons.

“We want to give people dignity, to give them somewhere warm to sit and eat and socialise.

“We had our first initial offer from the council about six weeks ago which was a basement at Cadogan Square underneath the Anderston flats.

“That wasn’t suitable because it had no heating or a kitchen. The place was a bit of a nightmare so we couldn’t justify spending the amount of money we would need in one local authority because we cover the whole of the country.

“In November last year they took us to the St Francis Centre to let us have a look at it but told us we couldn’t move in because of the ongoing work to the stain glass window. That to me is not really an offer.

“They came back with another offer last week to work with them in the St Francis Centre to serve people from 9am until 9pm. I told them there was no chance we could accept that because our service for food is from 8pm until 2.30am.

“They offer us solutions which are not suitable. Meanwhile there are over 200 people queuing in the streets, people are cold and a 74-year-old woman was asking yesterday when she would have a warm building to sit in.

“We would like a building that is wind and water tight, has got heat and is in a city centre location. It would preferably have a kitchen facility but we are not saying that has to happen because that is a bit unreasonable.”

Glasgow City Council has agreed that the Argyle Street base is not suitable for the charity and encouraged them to take a “broad approach” in their search for a property. 

A spokesman said: “The incident at the weekend was very concerning but we understand volunteers with the charity responded admirably to an emergency situation.

“It is widely agreed that Argyle Street is not a suitable location for the charity to deliver the support they provide and we are actively looking through the limited options we have to try and identify a solution for them.

“We are in regular contact with HPS and after two properties we put forward to them were declined, we have sought further information from the charity on the specifications they have for a building.

“We know the charity has been reaching out to other property holders in the city and we encourage them to take the broadest possible approach with their search for a property.”

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