Inverness Care Shelter 2009/10: Evaluation Report

Following the 2009/2010 Homelessness project in Inverness, a follow-up conference was held to review teh project: an evaluation report is now available.


homelessnessAround 50 people from Inverness Presbytery, local churches and the Bethany Christian Trust attended the Morning Session of the 2009/2010 Inverness Care Shelter Evaluation Conference at the East Church on 27th March. Delegates enjoyed the catering and excellent facilities generously provided by the East Church. Rev Professor Andrew McGowan, Chaplain to the Conference, conducted the opening Worship, following which Tom Gilfillan, Shelter Manager, gave a power point presentation of the main points in the Bethany Christian Trust’s Report.

This was followed by a SWOT analysis of the project (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
  • Among the strengths identified were that the Care Shelter had saved lives; met needs; and had encouraged the unity of diverse church groups.
  • Among the weaknesses were ‘permanent problem – temporary solution’; lack of a permanent base; and late hours opening.
  • Some of the opportunities listed were the possibility of continuing; the opportunity to learn from others; and the improvement of relationships with statutory bodies.
  • Among the threats to the project were the lack of co-operation between the various agencies; the loss of the Beechwood Designated Place and the consequence of this on other services; and unrealistic expectations.

Representatives from other agencies came for the afternoon session. An idea previously put forward in discussions with Highland Council officials concerning the running of a Care Shelter for A8 Nationals (ie most of the Eastern Europeans) next winter (they will become eligible for assistance from the local authority from April 2011), with food provision for the A8 nationals and people in bedsit accommodation without cooking facilities was floated. The value of Bethany’s community intergration programme “Passing the Baton” was also acknowledged by Council officials, who indicated that next winter they would be able to meet the accommodation needs of UK nationals. A Care Van providing hot food was also suggested.

Highland Council officials and members stressed the importance of working with the other agencies, and this was also recognised by church representatives. Highland Council would be willing to convene talks between Highland Homeless Trust, Homeless Action Inverness, Blythswood etc and the churches, and James Campbell of Blythswood had already had discussions with some other agencies.

Some church representatives commented that they did not see how it would be possible to run a Shelter for Eastern Europeans only – seeing this as effectively discriminating against UK nationals seeking help.

It was also agreed that a Churches’ Group on Homelessness Meeting would need to take place soon. Further discussion all round was needed to find the way ahead.

The Church of Scotland’s Presbytery of Inverness Church & Community Committee discussed the Care Shelter at their meeting on 30th March. Having reviewed the Care Shelter over the past winter, and knowing that there will be a similar need next winter, especially for Eastern Europeans, the Committee agreed to seek Presbytery’s approval to begin preparations for running a Care Shelter in 2010/2011.

At their meeting on 6th April Presbytery gave their approval to the Church & Community Committee to begin preparations for running a Care Shelter next winter, and to enter into the necessary negotiations with other denominations and other bodies to bring this about.

Vivian Roden
Church & Community Committee
14th April 2010

Vivian Roden, 16/05/2010