“I really appreciate all that you have done for me. You guys chat, listen, encourage, support, love. And you do all this and expect nothing back in return.”

This was the 22nd winter that the Care Shelter operated in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

It was another very successful season with an incredibly strong staff team, a huge effort from the churches and volunteer teams and the provision of 8,260 bed spaces. We are thankful that we were able to support so many people in crisis.

Here’s a breakdown of some our work from 2017-2018. You can also read the full Care Shelter Report here.

Operational Context

The Care Shelter was open every night of the week from 9 October 2017 – 22 April 2018; 28 weeks in total. There were 45 bed spaces available per night from 9 October until 1 December when capacity increased. Additional funding from the Scottish Government and Social Bite allowed an increase in capacity to 75 people per night. This meant that no one had to be turned away. Over 91,500 bed spaces have been provided at the Care Shelter across the 22 winters it has been open.

Church & Volunteer Overview

Involved this season were 16 venues and over 1,000 volunteers from 71 different catering teams; 69 churches and 2 non-church teams. For the first time in its history, the Care Shelter was located in one venue for a period of 15 weeks. Meadowbank Church being large, could accommodate 75 people and was available for this period. Churches that had signed up to host the Care Shelter were very gracious when bookings were cancelled and they shared our vision to be able to accommodate everyone who would otherwise have been rough sleeping. The Care Shelter heavily depends on the support of the churches and other volunteers who turn up night after night to cook nutritious meals and open up their venues for our use.


The staff team consisted of two team leaders, four full-time project workers and three part time project workers. Following the increase in capacity a further project worker was on shift throughout the night.

Partnership Working

Eight agencies visited the Care Shelter regularly over the winter period providing medical services and various forms of housing support and advice. Many people linked in with these services and accessed help that they would not have acquired independently. The presence of the various services at the Care Shelter also helped to breakdown barriers and create relationships. People were encouraged that services came out to meet them where they were.


722 individuals accessed the Care Shelter during the 2017-18 season. An average of 42.6 people attended each night which resulted in 8,330 presentations.

Read the full Care Shelter Report