Salvation Army crisis response to help rough sleepers and those at risk from losing their home

published on 17 Apr 2020

Niddry Street

The Salvation Army in Edinburgh is responding to the Covid-19 crisis by continuing to provide vital help in the form of telephone support, hot takeaway food and addiction drop-in services. The church and charity continues to be there for vulnerable people through its Niddry Street Wellbeing Centre and Pleasance Lifehouse (supported accommodation shelter).

Prior to the outbreak, the wellbeing centre's team of specialised early intervention workers and peer supporters had created a safe space for the city's the most vulnerable people - a place where they could also get a hot breakfast and lunch, a shower and a change of clothes and take part in a programme of groups.

But with Covid-19 precautionary measures in place, the team are having to reshape the support they provide.

Susan Grant, who runs the centre's programme, says their focus now is keeping in touch with people to ensure no one is forgotten about during the outbreak.

Susan said: "We're a close-knit community and the closest thing many have to a family, so we are concerned about the wellbeing of many people.

"At the moment our early intervention workers are contacting our friends by phone and working through a checklist of support to ensure they have everything they need. The For example, we have been advocating with energy companies to ensure people can heat their homes during this period.

"We've not been able to run our groups but we are looking at delivering our women's group and psychosocial group via video conferencing. However, our focus is making sure we can contact everyone. We support around 70 people but not all of them have mobile phones so that's obviously a problem we are hoping to overcome.

"Obviously due to social distancing restrictions we can't open the centre fully but every Wednesday and Thursday between 11am and 12.30pm our cook Peter prepares hot food for our takeaway service and we also have emergency food parcels for people who need them.

"We have also increased the support for people with addiction issues, providing harm reductions interventions such as a needle exchange, the anti-overdose drug Naloxone and access to specialist medical staff through a drop-in on a Wednesday and Thursday."


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