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Photo Credit: Jonathan Brady/ PA Wire/ PA Images
Jonathan Brady/ PA
Jonathan Brady/ PA
UK News

Christian homeless shelter to shut after guest and staff member test positive for coronavirus

by Press Association

A winter night shelter run by a Christian charity is to close after a guest and member of staff tested positive for coronavirus.

Glasgow City Mission helps vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the city with situations including homelessness, addiction, poverty, family breakdown, prostitution, persecution overseas and asylum.

The shelter in Crimea Street is usually open between December and March and can accommodate up to 40 people.

People who had been planning to use the facility will now be directed to alternative accommodation.

A statement on the charity's Facebook page said: "We have been instructed by the Scottish Government to close our night shelter with immediate effect.

"We confirm that the shelter is now closed, although staff will be available outside the shelter tonight to direct our guests appropriately.

"We have been informed that one of our guests and one of our staff have tested positive for the virus.

"We have taken the necessary steps to protect our other guests and staff at this difficult time."

It added: "The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced to us at Glasgow City Mission that shelters are not an appropriate accommodation solution during a pandemic.

"We are grateful for the response of the First Minister this afternoon and now await confirmation from our partners at the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP) what alternative appropriate accommodation will be made available and how to direct our guests to access it."

The number of people in Scotland who have died after contracting Covid-19 has increased to six, with a rise in the reported number of cases to 266.

Of that number, as of Thursday, there are 71 in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Continuing advice is being issued by the Scottish Government for those with any symptoms to self-isolate for seven days.

The charity has called for funding to help at-risk people do this.

The charity said: "There are a significant number of highly vulnerable persons in our city whose status provides no recourse to public funds who will also require immediate attention and accommodation.

"To wilfully continue to house people in shelter-style environments is, for us, to demonstrate contempt not compassion.

"To continue to allow mass sleeping in the face of advice to the contrary is to put vulnerable people at significant intentional risk, while on the face of it keeps many onlookers satisfied that 'at least they are not out in the cold'.

"It is, in our mind, a case of out of sight is out of mind. We cannot do that in good conscience."

It added: "We look forward to a confirmed solution for all people requiring accommodation with access to bathrooms, where support can be given, and isolation feasible.

"Covid-19 is going to change how we think about many things, we trust that it will be a turning point for the way in which we approach the accommodation of all vulnerable people who have sought a safe haven in Scotland."

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: "GCHSCP is busy putting in place contingency plans to reduce risk to vulnerable homeless people, many of whom have underlying health conditions.

"This involves working with a range of stakeholders including Police Scotland and those concerned with housing and health as well as third sector partners like the Simon Community.

"This is a charity we work closely with and whose Street Team build up relationships with rough sleepers.

"We're currently identifying temporary furnished flats that would allow people to self-isolate if necessary as well as self- contained spaces within communal accommodation."

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