Glasgow homeless shelter closes over two virus cases

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A night shelter for homeless people in Glasgow has closed with immediate effect after a staff member and a user tested positive for coronavirus.

Glasgow City Mission, which operates the shelter, said it was instructed to close by the Scottish government.

The facility in East Campbell Street is usually open between December and March and can accommodate up to 40 people.

The mission said the Covid-19 crisis proved the accommodation was not appropriate during a pandemic.

And it hoped the outbreak would be a "turning point" for how accommodation is provided for vulnerable people.

Allowing "mass sleeping" puts homeless people at "significant intentional risk", the mission warned.

'Contempt not compassion'

People who were intending to use the shelter will be "appropriately" directed by staff who will be outside the facility on Thursday night.

A statement added that the "necessary steps" had been taken to protect other users and staff.

It also said that there had not yet been confirmation from Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership on what the new accommodation arrangements would be.

The Glasgow City Mission, a Christian 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 said it wanted to see a solution which would allow people needing accommodation access to bathroom, support, and where isolation was feasible.

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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