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Edinburgh church makes urgent appeal for sleeping bags for homeless as heavy snow expected

The Parish of St Cuthbert's in Edinburgh has launched an urgent appeal for sleeping bags to help keep homeless people warm as temperatures are due to drop this week. 

The Met Office has issued amber and yellow weather warnings, bringing up to 70cm of snow in some parts of Scotland and temperatures of -10C. 

Due to Covid-19, many night shelters have had to impose stricter restrictions and, in many cases, close altogether. 

Speaking to Premier, the church's minister Revd Peter Sutton, said that some of the rough sleepers who struggle with addiction have a problem with accepting accommodation with lots of restrictions. 

"People have to be in their own rooms, in sort of 'hotel' accommodation. For a lot of people with addiction, that's quite a very frightening place to be in, having to follow strict guidelines...not being able to pop out for a cigarette and all the rest.

"So, although it's a great resource, for a lot of people it is not the way that they would wish to be looked after. They need more independence within that. Sadly, the best thing you can offer is a sleeping bag at the moment," Revd Sutton said. 

The sleeping bags are distributed during the church's Sunday suppers.

Every week, St Cuthbert's, in partnership with charity Steps to Hope, offers hot meals to rough sleepers with as many as 100 people gathering every week. However, the coronavirus pandemic has meant that people can no longer enter the building to have a sit-down meal and it is now more of a takeaway meal in the churchyard. 
"As well as the food, which is important, there's sustenance for mind, body and spirit going on. And particularly sleeping bags at this time of year, they are greatly in demand," Revd Sutton said. 

Other items such as socks, t-shirts, underwear, toiletries and warm jackets would also be very helpful. Revd Sutton said: "a lot of good supporters, think you can just come along and drop your black bag of all your clothes. But in many ways that doesn't really help. You need to really target the clothes you can offer because they are really specific to the needs of the homeless."

Donations can be handed in at St Cuthbert's Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 2pm. 

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