Advice for Severe Weather

Helping the Homeless in Scotland During Severe Weather


The best place to be in severe weather is in a warm, safe indoor environment. The worst place is rough sleeping. Our staff are out every day and during severe weather we’ll have extra staff on in the evenings to support people into shelter.

If you are concerned about someone then call:

  • Glasgow 0800 027 7466
  • Edinburgh   0808 178 2323

Winter Night Shelter – Glasgow

  • Glasgow City Mission, 35 East Campbell Street, G1 5DT.
  • Telephone 07555 591 466
  • Email
  • Open 01/12/17 – 31/12/17
  • Click here to see map.

Winter Night Shelter Edinburgh

The night shelter is hosted by various venues throughout the city.

To find out which shelter is open, contact 0131 561 8930 (day) and 07919 557 673 (night).

  • Email
  • Open 09/10/17 – 22/04/18
  • Transport to the shelter is available from Waterloo Place at 21:15 and 21:30 – Click here to see transport location.

People on the Streets


We don’t want to see people living on the streets. It’s unsafe, unhealthy and highly risky. However for broad range of reasons some people do rough sleep. If you are in a position to help here is some advice you might want to consider:

Find a safe place to sleep

It’s important for people to find a safe place to sleep at night. If sleeping rough, it’s better they sleep where other people are sleeping. Well lit & sheltered areas, good CCTV coverage, cardboard is a good insulator and newspaper to keep off the ground. A bed roll is cheap and easily transportable.

Unsafe places

People might find cover in unsafe places. Large lidded bins, which can result in crush injuries or death if the bin is emptied. Empty or derelict buildings, with associated risks around fire safety and building collapse. Under bridges, on river banks or near the sea, streams or canals or drains or gullies, which are dangerous in the event of heavy or prolonged rainfall. Isolated remote areas where they may be assaulted.

Dress for the weather

Layers are better than heavy clothes (Click here for more information on layering), and people’s extremities –  head and face, along with your legs, hands and feet are the most difficult to keep warm.  It is a good idea to have long johns, a balaclava and warm socks. If people are really struggling to keep warm, try stuffing plastic bags between your trousers and long johns.

Food and Drink

Warm food and drink help to warm the body and provide fuel to maintain warmth. Often rough sleepers are inactive staying in the one place for long periods so high calorific foods, warm drinks and warm clothing all help.

Glasgow – Simon Community Scotland

  • The Hub, 72 London Road, G1 5NP
  • Telephone: 0141 552 4230
  • Freephone: 0800 027 746

Edinburgh – Streetwork

  • The Hub, 22 Holyrood Road EH8 8AF
  • Telephone: 0131 557 6055
  • Freephone: 0808 178 2323

How to spot the signs of hypothermia
Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature below 35C (95F). Normal body temperature is around 37C (98.6F). People using drugs and alcohol are more vulnerable to hypothermia as their bodies lose heat faster. Hypothermia can be serious if not treated quickly. It can kill you. If you notice signs of hypothermia, call 999 and give first aid. The advice below is an extract from the NHS UK website.

Symptoms of hypothermia

Early signs of hypothermia include: shivering, cold and pale skin, slurred speech, fast breathing, tiredness, confusion. These are symptoms of mild hypothermia, where someone’s body temperature is between 32C and 35C. If a person’s temperature drops to 32C or lower, they will usually stop shivering completely and may pass out. This is a sign that their condition is getting worse and emergency medical help is needed.

First Aid for hypothermia

You need to warm the person up, move them indoors remove any wet clothing and dry them wrap them in blankets. Give them a warm non-alcoholic drink – only if they can swallow normally. Give energy food that contains sugar, such as a chocolate bar – only if they can swallow normally. If the person can’t be moved indoors, find something for them to rest on to protect them from the cold ground, like a towel or blanket. If the person does not appear to be breathing – and you have been trained on how to do it – give them CPR. You must continue to do this until professional help arrives in the form of an ambulance or medical team.

Things to avoid 

Some things can make hypothermia worse: don’t put the person into a hot bath. Don’t massage their limbs. Don’t use heating lamps. Don’t give them alcohol to drink. These actions can cause the heart to suddenly stop beating (cardiac arrest).

Severe Weather Packs

Severe Weather Packs containing winter sleeping bags, space blankets, winter clothing for layering, hand warmers and food are available for distribution from both Streetwork and Simon Community. These packs provide a higher grade thermal quality specifically for the winter.

Here is more information on Severe Weather Packs.