Catholic volunteers are stepping up to help the homeless this Christmas along with other Christian churches.

They are part of catering teams doing shifts at the Bethany Christian Trust project in Gorgie Road, Edinburgh.

The winter care shelter runs for 32 weeks until 3 May. Last year it welcomed 746 homeless people.

In August, Rab Burnett (below), a parishioner at the Ss Ninian and Triduana church in the city, called on fellow Catholics to contribute to the running of the shelter.

This week he said: "There are now seven Catholic parishes involved Sacred Heart, South Edinburgh Cluster, St John the Baptist, St John & St Mary Magdalene's, St Margaret's, St Ninian's, and St Patrick's. Altogether they cover 30 evenings.

"Catering teams provide the hot meals and more on the 224 nights that the shelter is open. There are 68 churches (of different denominations) involved, ranging from Cumbernauld to North Berwick."

Buy a Bed

The Bethany Christian Trust has launched its Buy a Bed campaign. For just £21, supporters can sponsor a bed at the Winter Care Shelter for someone who is homeless and who would otherwise be forced to sleep outside. They also get a hot meal. To find out more click here.

Craig’s story*

Craig had come to Edinburgh having been living in England. Very quickly he found work through an agency but wasn’t yet able to afford somewhere to stay. He would ask shelter staff to wake him up at 4am so he could get to work on time. The agency work was unreliable and so he applied for a job as a kitchen porter in an upmarket restaurant. One night he shared with staff that he had an interview the next day, and they were soon delighted to learn he had got the job, Craig didn’t stay every night, he would pay for a night in a hostel or budget hotel when he could afford it.

Craig was worried about getting his chef whites laundered and being able to hold onto his job until his first paycheck came through. Working while staying in a shelter is not easy.

One night, he met with the Care Shelter Link Workers who carry out provisional homeless assessments to determine whether people are eligible for temporary accommodation through the council. Craig went through an assessment and was able to be accommodated the next day. He stayed 14 nights at the Care Shelter.

*Name changed.