After hours volunteers patrol Edinburgh's streets providing first aid during lockdown

The Capital risks loosing safe space from night-time trouble due to Covid-19 regulations

By Shona Elliott
Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 7:30 am
Street Assist volunteers help keep the Capital trouble-free throughout the night.
Street Assist volunteers help keep the Capital trouble-free throughout the night.

A charity providing safe space for people who find themselves in trouble at night in the city centre has been left ‘homeless’ due to lockdown regulations.

Street Assist provides physical and mental support for people out in the Capital at the weekend between 10pm to 4am.

Based in a hub at Central Hall volunteers are placed at party zones on Friday and Saturday nights ready to assist when needed to ensure everyone gets home safely.

Charity staff provide 'valuable' support to West End Police Station during busy weekend evenings.

But since lockdown, the hub has been closed in line with Covid-19 restrictions and founder Neil Logan said the charity is struggling to continue providing their service.

Usually able to help intoxicated pub goers and abuse victims fleeing unsafe homes in a private space, since March the team has been limited to providing street-side triage and calling ambulances.

Mr Logan said: “We currently find ourselves homeless as our usual venue is unavailable due to Covid-19 restrictions. With no sign of this changing, we need to try and find an alternative venue to deliver our service from.

“Having no base location means that if we receive a call to help someone all we can do is assist on the street with no privacy and call ambulance services. This means that people will end up at A&E when in reality they don’t really need to be there.

“Given that so many resources are still being utilised in the fight against Covid-19, these unnecessary interventions by emergency services are putting an additional cost and stress on an already stretched police, ambulance, council and NHS.”

West End Police Station has allowed the charity to temporarily operate from their office but with the return of the city’s student population in the coming weeks the charity needs to find a permanent hub soon.

Mr Logan said: “With many new students descending into the city over the coming weeks it is vital that we can secure a new location to allow us to operate fully and support the emergency services at this busy time.

“Ideally we need a city centre location big enough to ensure social distancing for patients and volunteers, a space to store our equipment and toilet facilities.”

Inspector Trish Robertson said: "Over the weekends, Street Assist volunteers provide valuable assistance, seeking to safeguard and provide initial first aid to people who are vulnerable through intoxication or other factors linked to the night-time economy.

"We have provided them a temporary space at the West End Police Station to allow them to recommence their operations and support the emergency services, however, this only allows them to offer street-based triage at this time.

“We hope they will be able to find a suitable new base soon and are supporting them in their search, to allow them to get back to full operation. Their work assists in reducing the demand on emergency services and allowing us to ensure our resources are where they are needed the most."

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