Nostalgia: Help for the homeless

Central soup kitchen in Buccleuch Street. Picture: TSPL
Central soup kitchen in Buccleuch Street. Picture: TSPL
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EDINBURGH has a long history of helping the homeless, whether it’s through raising money or running soup kitchens.

One of the Capital’s most famous soup kitchens was The Old Sailor’s Ark on the Canongate, which at its peak served a million meals to hungry families a year.

Memories of the Ark have come to the fore this week amid calls to save the historic building from demolition.

The C-listed building, which today houses the homeless charity Streetwork, faces demolition as part of the multi-million pound Caltongate development.

Many people will have fond memories of the warm welcome they received from the Ark during their hour of need, with volunteers coming from all walks of life.

Students have always been big supporters of homeless charities.

A group of students staged a “dustbin sit-in” for the homeless charity Shelter outside St John’s church at the West End in April 1969, playing guitar in front of home-made placards.

OAPs have also played their part in helping those less fortunate than themselves.

Mrs A Harrison was pictured serving her first customer of the new season at the Central Soup Kitchen in Buccleuch Street in January 1957.

Even young children have been touched by homelessness.

Back in 1951, a group of youngsters were photographed at Lochinvar Camp, which provided emergency housing for the homeless in North Edinburgh between Granton Road and Netherby Road.

Edinburgh’s homeless even became theatre stars back in 1990, thanks to the help given to them from the Grassmarket project which takes its actors and theatre staff from homeless people living in the local missions and hostels.