January 2nd 1970
The Crisis Centre in Edinburgh has caused a row because it's claimed applicants have to fill in a 12-page form and promise not to go to sleep before they are allowed in.
Lothians MSP George Foulkes said people were being deterred from seeking help at the former Cowgate Centre in Holyrood Road because of the regime. He said: "When they were asked to fill in a form, a lot of them just didn't come back. If they got past the forms, they could go in and have a cup of coffee - but they could not fall asleep.
He added that his information came from users of the centre who had discussed the situation in detail with his staff.
Today council chiefs, who handed the running of the centre to charity Streetwork in April, said the "no sleeping" rule was because the council wanted to find better accommodation for homeless people, and that a new homelessness strategy had dramatically reduced the number of homeless people in the city. He said the Cowgate Centre had never offered beds and homeless people had to sleep on the floor.
"We are moving away from providing the old services which encouraged people to fall into dependency and now we are doing more in the community and getting them into bed and breakfast and proper accommodation."
Streetwork said the centre was open 24 hours a day to ensure that people in housing crisis had access to support when they needed it, and that when people have nowhere to sleep, the centre would liaise with the council and other providers to find overnight accommodation.
A spokeswoman also denied people were required to fill in a 12-page form before getting into the centre, but declined to elaborate further.
When the council announced details of its new homeless services contract earlier this year, organisations working with homeless people warned the change in the nature of the Cowgate centre could lead to more people without a place to sleep. But Streetwork insists the new approach will bring long-term benefits.