Urgent action is being taken to help ensure homeless people are not left sleeping on freezing streets.
The Scottish Government has contacted all Councils to confirm that housing and support agencies are on standby with support including:
* Consideration of extending support services through existing care and support centres
* Publicising contact numbers which the public can use to give information about rough sleepers who need help
* Working closely with neighbouring councils and local housing associations to ensure enough temporary accommodation places are available
* Working with local hostels to make available emergency places where this is necessary
Councils and voluntary organisations across Scotland also provide a 24-hour emergency contact service as a matter of course, and councils have emergency planning teams in place across all services.
Visiting Streetwork, a homeless charity based in Edinburgh supported by the council, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
“Scotland is in the grip of arctic temperatures and experiencing some of the most significant snowfall at this time of year since 1965.
“Homeless people are among the most vulnerable people in our communities, particularly at times like these. That is why I am keen to offer the Scottish Government’s appreciation of council and voluntary homeless projects right across Scotland.
“Here in Edinburgh, projects such as Streetwork Outreach Service and the Access Point are offering a real lifeline with advice and assistance.
“But I know that Edinburgh is not alone and that local authorities the length and breadth of Scotland have mobilised to put in place measures to help those in greatest need. This can and will save lives.
“My colleague Alex Neil, the Housing Minister, is in close contact with local authorities and many have already responded positively and speedily to the needs of those in our midst who have no shelter.”
Cosla spokesperson Harry McGuigan said:
“Scottish Councils area ready to cope with homelessness during the current cold spell. Emergency arrangements are in place across Scotland to ensure homeless people are not left sleeping on freezing streets.
“The cold spell throws into sharp focus the plight of homelessness and rooflessness. Scottish Councils have made great progress in being proactive in meeting the needs of those who do not have a roof over their heads.
“Councils are maximising their efforts and are working tremendously hard, making the very best use of existing resources to provide this crucially important service.”
“The public can also do their bit by letting us know through our Council contact centres about rough sleepers who need help.”