Homeless Project Scotland welfare centre in Glasgow city centre given life-saving boost by landlord

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The new welfare centre and emergency night shelter launched by Homeless Project Scotland in Glasgow will remain open after the owner of their building offered an open-ended extension to their rent-free lease.

Barry Cushley of Quintessential Group Holdings owns the Glassford Street building HPS operates from and famously handed over free use of the large basement area to let them run their soup kitchen in a safe, secure and warm environment off the streets.

Now, the big-hearted businessman has extended the initial three-month lease so the charity can continue their work safely.

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HPS boss Colin McInnes said: “We are thrilled that we can continue saving lives every single day and night in Scotland’s first emergency night shelter and welfare centre.

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“For years, we have needed a safe, warm, secure location off the streets to help us in our work and that is what we now have.

“Barry told me confidentially he wanted to keep working with us after the three months of winter and he has come through for us again. He was the first person to step up and bring us off the streets after we pleaded with everyone for years. It’s fair to say we are the largest grassroots homeless charity in Scotland now.

“Since we launched the night shelter we have accommodated 1462 sleepers. That’s 1462 people saved from sleeping on the cold wet pavement in the freezing winter. We have had 43,400 people through the doors for hot meals since we opened, with 217,000 hot meals served. That’s 350 people per day and each person receives five meals.

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“I hope other businesses in the city can see what a difference one man has made to us and the people of Scotland, by letting us use a space he had sitting empty. Even I have been taken aback at just how bad the problem is and how high the numbers through our doors are – the need is even greater than we anticipated. But we are here to help. We are over the moon to be able to continue our work here, so from all of us, thank you Barry.”

Building owner Barry admits he was surprised at how radically the original plan to move the charity’s soup kitchen off Argyll Street changed – and became the comprehensive welfare centre and overnight shelter that’s saved so many lives.

The lease extension has come as a welcome boost to Colin and his team and Barry has vowed to continue his support long term. Barry’s company Quintessential Group Holdings buys run-down city centre structures and transforms them into stylish modern shared office spaces. He had the basement area of the Glassford Street building sitting empty – so offered it to Colin for free.

Barry Cushley said: “Obviously we started out wanting to support Colin and his team and give them a safe place to do their incredible work feeding the hungry of our city.

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“Colin very quickly wanted to step things up and broaden the services he offered to save lives in the coldest months of winter – my attitude was I’d turned the space over to him to use as he wanted. Colin is the expert – he knows what is needed to help, support, protect and save his service users, I don’t. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite like him. We gave him the space and let him get on with it.

“He’s an incredible man who went from 0-100mph very quickly – the planned soup kitchen quickly became a welfare centre with emergency overnight shelter, legal support offices, kitchens and all sorts. When you see the stats, the number of people he has fed, beds he has provided to desperate people, the number of lives he has saved, it is humbling.

“Of course I want to keep supporting Colin and Homeless Project Scotland – how could I turn them away now and abandon so many people who need help? I had Glassford Street available and saw a chance to help an inspirational group – I do have long term plans for the site but I love what Colin is doing in the short term.

“It was always meant to be three months but I want to keep Homeless Project Scotland and their service users off the streets so we’ve agreed an open-ended lease rent-free.”

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