Inverness Shelter Pilot Report

Breakfast cook setting  table at 6.45am
Shelter projectFor a 2-week period in February seven Inveress churches opened their doors to accommodate those in the area who were homeless during that time. In the course of the pilot project the Highlands experienced some of the coldest nights of the year with record low temperatures.

The project was run as a pilot under the auspices of Bethany Christian Trust which has, over the past 12 years, responded to  the needs of vulnerable men and women on the streets of Edinburgh throughout the winter.

In 2008, representatives from various churches and community groups in Inverness with the support of Highland Council approached the Trust to discuss the possibility of running a temporary (pilot) night shelter based on the Edinburgh model for two weeks during the winter to help assess the needs of rough sleepers in Inverness.

Prior to the shelter being opened, members of the local Christian community were trained by Bethany staff and, working as a team with them, provided overnight accommodation in church halls and a cooked breakfast at the permanent shelter location.

The churches involved were Crown Church, Kingsview Christian Centre, Kinmylies Church of Scotland, Croy Church of Scotland, Old High St Stephen’s Church, Culloden Barn Church, St Mary’s Catholic Church and volunteers from the Black Isle.
Shelter volunteers
Shelter project volunteers at a training session run by staff from Bethany Trust

The most significant part of the budget was staff costs. Running costs were kept to a minimum through the very generous voluntary and financial contributions which were made by a large number of church groups, Trusts and private individuals. The  Inverness city council Common Good Fund agreed to pledge £6000 towards the costs of running the service, the remainder of the total budget of £11,000 was covered by donations from the churches with a surplus of £2,829.54 which has been passed over to the local steering group headed up by Vivian Roden of Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery.

A Final Report was presented at a review meeting held in Inverness last week. In the Conclusion, the report's author John Rodgers, the Director of Residential Support Services for Highland Region stated:

The Shelter has proved an important and necessary resource for homeless men and women within Inverness over the two week period. Particularly as the service was in operation during two of the coldest weeks of the winter.

The Shelter’s provision this winter is as much evidence of the commitment of the wider church community as it is of Highland Council and Bethany Christian Trust. It is the churches who provided the venues over the 2 weeks of the Shelter’s operation. It is they who provided the volunteer teams to cater – 4 to 7 individuals on any given night – who provided hospitality and warm food, enabling the regular staff to concentrate on managing the environment and dealing with situations that arose.

As well as this13 different volunteers stayed overnight with Bethany staff. In this they ensured the project worked and that homeless men and women who would otherwise have slept rough were provided with accommodation. Though Bethany Christian Trust invested a large amount of time, hard work and organisation to enable this project to succeed, the project’s success is equally dependent on the wider Inverness church community who generously volunteered their services, as well as Highland Council and the Highland Homeless Trust.

It was noted that in relation to the number of households in each city, Inverness has a higher proportion of rough sleepers than Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Download a copy of Final Report here.

Christians Together, 22/03/2009

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