This winter, over 700 men and women have used the Bethany Christian Trust Winter Care Shelter. For the past 28 weeks, the Edinburgh-based Care Shelter has supported hundreds of people who are faced with the crisis of rough sleeping.

Providing a safe place to sleep, a hot meal and a range of support from experienced staff and partner agencies, the Care Shelter has prepared a total of 10,550 meals and provided over 9,000 beds to people who are homeless in Edinburgh.

The service is run by a small team of staff, who also saw over 1,000 volunteers lend a hand in the nation’s capital to help prepare hot meals and provide church venues for homeless people to sleep on a nightly rota basis. On average, 47 people each night have used the shelter and 72 churches across Edinburgh and Lothians have taken part.

What began as a 2-week pilot programme in 1996, the Care Shelter has since grown over the years to span six and a half months over the coldest period of the year, from October until April. To date, the Care Shelter has provided over 83,000 bed spaces in total, with over 9,000 beds provided this past winter alone.

Commenting on the work of the Care Shelter, Iain Gordon Chief Executive of Bethany Christian Trust said: “It is extremely sad that over 700 people were left with no option other than to sleep rough in Edinburgh this winter. We are extremely grateful to the 1000 volunteers from local churches who helped to save lives and support people to move on to more permanent accommodation and to access the help they needed. Their efforts made Edinburgh a more caring and compassionate city this winter for people with nowhere to call home.”

Alasdair Bennett, Director of Operations, commented: “We are indebted to the churches and individuals who once again have responded with enormous generosity and commitment, giving of both their time and resources to make this life saving work possible. The Care Shelter has provided a dignified meal, warmth, care and a secure place to sleep to over 700 of some of the most vulnerable adults in Edinburgh since October. We work in partnership with a wide range of charitable and statutory services to support the people who access the project to urgently facilitate a route out of homelessness”.