02 March 2016

Bethany Christian Trust - Blog

Since the end of January, EHAP advisers, including myself, have been attending the Bethany Care Shelter on Tuesday nights. Participating churches across Edinburgh provide the location for the Care Shelter on a rota basis. Doors open at 9.30pm and people are able to get a three course meal and somewhere warm to sleep for the night. An EHAP adviser is available every Tuesday night for a chat and some housing advice until lights out at 10.45pm. Bethany has seen demand for the service increase alarmingly over the last few years and the total number of individuals presenting this year for the duration of the service is on target to top nine hundred. In fact, this winter they regularly have to turn people away having reached capacity. They offer those turned away sleeping bags, if available.

BCT

The Bethany Care Shelter is a great example of agencies coming together and coordinating their work in partnership. Advisers from Crisis, Streetwork and the Rock Trust have all made themselves available as well as Housing Officers from The Access Point's Housing Options Team and nurses and GPs from the Edinburgh Access Practice.

The main issues facing the people we have connected with so far are: EEA nationals with right to reside issues and people who City of Edinburgh Council have discharged duty to accommodate for reasons of "intentional" homelessness and lack of local connection.

An example of a success story was a young man who had previously been told that City of Edinburgh Council had no duty to provide him with temporary accommodation as he lacked a local connection. He came to the Care Shelter on a Tuesday night really pleased that he had secured a job. We were able to advise him that this constituted a change of circumstances and he would be able to make a new homeless presentation. He did this and was offered temporary accommodation by the council, meaning he no longer had to sleep rough or use the Care Shelter. Through the Care Shelter he also engaged with one of our colleagues at Crisis who worked with him and helped him to secure a private tenancy.

Although everyone involved would rather there wasn't a need for the Care Shelter, we have nothing but admiration for the work that everyone involved in organising this vital service does and EHAP are delighted to participate. You can read more about the Bethany Care Shelter and download the schedule for shelter locations here.

Fintan Kavanagh, Deputy Service Manager

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