Helensburgh churches combine to tackle homelessness

CHURCHES in Helensburgh are working together to combat the growing problem of homelessness in the town.

Almost 130 people have received practical help in just eight months from a scheme set up three years ago.

Since March, a total of 127 help packages have been issued to people in desperate need. That’s two more than the total for the first 27 months of the Wellbeing Packs Project.

Five Helensburgh churches are involved in gathering, putting together and distributing packs of toiletries for those who have no home of their own or whose safety in returning to their own home is at risk.

Rev David Clark, chairman of the project, said the demand indicated an increasing need and awareness of the facility, an initiative of Scottish Churches Housing Action.

Mr Clark, minister of St Andrew’s Kirk, said: “The aim is to help homeless people at the point of need when they have just lost their home, providing them with the basic toiletry essentials. This project helps people to regain their dignity when going through an experience that can be perceived as very humiliating.

“A good working relationship has existed since the outset with various agencies including Argyll and Bute housing department and homeless team, Social Work, Women’s Aid in Dumbarton and Dunoon and Action for Children.

“The local homeless team is provided regularly with packs as requested and will make them available in bed and breakfast establishments used by them. Women’s Aid keeps a small supply of packs at the ready. The service is open to any agencies supporting people going through homelessness in the area.”

Mr Clark said that as well as providing immediate help, the project aimed to raise awareness in the community of the issue facing people who experience homelessness, and help improve their self-esteem and general wellbeing.

He added: “The scheme will also provide a means by which Helensburgh church members can demonstrate their concern for people experiencing homelessness in a practical way, thereby bridging the gap into the community, breaking down social exclusion and providing access to resources and support that may not be readily available.”