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In the run-up to Christmas 2010, when the biting winter climate saw temperatures in Glasgow drop to as low as -17c, the Glasgow City Mission was prompted to temporarily reopen a derelict homeless shelter to help the cold and hungry. The revived site is the old scout hall on McAlpine Street which closed down only a few years ago and may be familiar to some readers.
The planned replacement site, just minutes away from the disused scout hall, remains incomplete. The redevelopment was initially thwarted by financial constraints experienced by the original developers during the recession of 2008-09 and is now delayed by the dragging bureaucracy of Scottish Enterprise. These delays have only exacerbated the need for a night shelter during the freezing winter months.
Securing funding for this vital service has long been a concern for the four staff members and in particular, GCM chief executive, Andrew Lowe. Originally, the figure required to kick-start the hostel project was £15,000. However, speaking exclusively to The Pavement, Mr Lowe indicated on the 18 January that this figure would need to be doubled to cover costs.
GCM has already acquired an impressive £24,000 in order for the service to run until late March or early April this year. Mr Lowe explained that the project is currently relying heavily on word-of-mouth to secure donations. "There are all sorts of groups coming in every week, contacting us saying they can raise a couple of hundred pounds," he said. "I got an email today from someone who travels in business and knows someone in Singapore who would like to donate a gift and wants to know how to send it to us... It really is about word of mouth at the moment.
Mr Lowe reported that if the project succeeds in raising £30,000, a more organised funding strategy will be implemented: "As it is, we are drawing near the end of the wire; I think we will come in just under the £30,000 because we started slightly later than I would have liked to and the winter has been much colder than we had expected". However, Mr Lowe remains optimistic. Praising the inspiration and commitment of his staff team and those donating to the project, Mr Lowe said, "I have every faith we will reach £30,000, but if we meet £28,000, we will run on £28,000 until it runs out."
Individual donors have added to the financial aid provided by organisations such as Glasgow Homeless Network, Glasgow Lodging House Mission, Turing Point, the Wayside, Quarriers, Glasgow Housing Association & Glasgow Homeless Network.
It is reassuring that despite the difficult financial climate, a range of services and organisations have dug deep to secure the funding without which the night shelter could not have reopened.
Indeed, Mr Lowe told The Pavement that he is liaising with the Refugee Council, who are considering contributing financially to the GCM project, as some refugees have recently benefited from staying at the shelter. This is testament that the hostel upholds its "no tests, no checks" policy, which ensures that people from any background or race are welcome.