'We'll help people off the streets and into somewhere to call home'

Glasgow's City Mission is working to help more people turn their lives around.

Glasgow’s homeless community are being helped into temporary accommodation after the City Mission adapted its service.

The Overnight Welcome Centre is helping people move quickly on to settled accommodation, rather than resorting to rough sleeping.

With freezing winter conditions, it’s become a vital lifeline to those on the streets as it guarantees them a warm stay in a hotel or B&B in the city.

Jack, from Glasgow, has been sleeping rough and sofa surfing. He’s spent time sleeping in sub-zero temperatures this month.  

The 21-year-old said: “I got about half an hour’s sleep outside. I went and tried to get something to eat, under the bridge, so they gave me a cuppa soup, then I came here. It’s Baltic out there!”

Before the pandemic, the service offered by City Mission looked very different.

Their space featured mattresses on the floor where up 40 people a night stayed to avoid sleeping rough.

Winter project manager Elyse MacKinnon told STV News: “When Covid happened, we changed to the Overnight Welcome Centre, we moved into a hotel within the city, and we had a floor there and access to emergency accommodation.

“That meant that our guests had their own room. They had their dignity back and it gave them a little bit of their self-respect. They were trusted in the room and that’s a step forward, a major step forward from mattresses on the floor.

With safe, secure accommodation sorted, the centre also offers a listening ear, as well as other support. 

Interns, such as Ashleigh Ferguson, know all too well about the support people using this service need.

She said: “I was an addict before. Through that experience, being on drugs myself, it’s given me that desire to work with people. 

“I’m part of the outreach team and we go out on the streets and offer to people who are begging or homeless – whatever support they may need, whether that may be accommodation, sometimes it’s just a chat or giving out hats and gloves.”

Staff offer a range of help, but it’s not just short-term solutions such as somewhere to stay and a hot meal.

Jack said: “It’s also just trying to get myself back on my feet. I want to go to college, I want to get a job, get my own wee place. Somewhere to call home.”