Charities and churches 2010 homelessness scheme

Following projects in previous years to provide assistance to the homeless, the winter of 2010 will see a new and unique accommodation service being provided by local churches and charities to challenge roughsleeping in the Inverness area.

homelessnessCongregations across Inverness have come together to provide accommodation for ‘roofless people’ throughout the Highland’s harshest winter months. The new service builds on the successes of “Care Shelters” run by the churches of Inverness in conjunction with the Bethany Christian Trust in 2008 and 2009.

This coming winter the Inverness churches are joining forces with established local charities Highland Homeless Trust and Blythswood Care to provide an improved ‘Direct Access Accommodation’ service for those who currently have no entitlement to housing, and who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the city’s streets this winter.

Vivian Roden from the Presbytery of Inverness says:
“This new accommodation service which is supported by the Inverness Common Good Fund will link in very effectively with other local services for vulnerable people in the Inverness area. This new service really is a step forward and is designed for those people with no entitlement to welfare benefits or housing services.
It will be operated through a co-ordinated referral system that will ensure much needed help goes to those who most desperately need it during the winter and will ensure that all agencies, including the Highland Council and the Police, will be able to access the service to make sure vulnerable people receive the best care and advice available.
We are grateful for the co-operation of all the agencies, for the support and encouragement from senior officials of the Highland Council, and for the £15,000 grant from the Inverness Common Good Fund which has helped bring our plans to fruition. There are other initiatives being drawn up for the City Centre and we look forward to playing our part”.

Breakfast CookExperience in this field of work has shown that the reasons people find themselves without a home varies, and homelessness is much more common than many might think.

Between 2007 and 2008 within the Highland area alone, around 2,000 separate households presented themselves to the local authority as homeless. These households comprise of families, couples or single people from all backgrounds and walks of life. 650 involved families with children.

Mr James Campbell
, Chief Executive of Blythswood Care continued:
“The traditional view of a homeless person is of a rough sleeper, someone perhaps 'down and out' and living on the streets. Fortunately in Inverness very few people fall into this category but homelessness can affect anyone, at any time. Those that do find themselves in that position often quickly become isolated from their family, friends and communities and it’s a major task to rebuild relationships. A great deal of work has gone into establishing this fantastic new service, which will provide not just accommodation but a positive social network that we hope will have a very positive and empowering outcome not just for the individual, but for the whole community.”

Rough SleeperDr Paul Monaghan, Director of the Highland Homeless Trust believes the benefits of this new service to the wider community will be significant:

“Often through no fault of their own, and despite the very best efforts of voluntary organisations and statutory agencies, some people find themselves without a roof over their head during our harshest winter months. Living rough during the winter, even for short periods of time, represents an obvious and significant danger to any individual’s health and wellbeing. This new service will provide much needed accommodation and support for a small number of individuals that will literally have nowhere to live this coming winter. The accommodation will provide a place of safety and a point of contact for vulnerable people and is an excellent example of what can be achieved when organisations get together to address local problems. The accommodation will provide roughsleepers in Inverness with a chance to move off the streets and into a welcoming environment and that will benefit our whole community.”

The new service is due to operate from 1 November 2010 until 30 April 2011. As in previous years, volunteers from the churches will cook and serve hot evening meals. Ten churches churches drawn from three denominations across the city and beyond have agreed to contribute to catering and social networking opportunities.

Christians Together, 01/10/2010

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