Cowgate hostel homeless can finally get a good night's sleep

HOMELESS people are often the ones blamed for rowdy behaviour on the streets of the city centre.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 8:33 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 9:37 am
Fredie Evans with the soundproof curtains in the hostel. Picture: contributed

But now residents of a hostel in the Cowgate – whose sleep was being disturbed by late-night clubbers, stag and hen parties and music blasting out of venues – have had their wish of a good night’s sleep granted.

Author Alexander McCall Smith was among those who supported a fundraising event to help block out the din, contributing towards the £7000 used to buy specially-manufactured soundproof acoustic curtains.

Cunningham House, located in one of the city’s liveliest clubbing hotspots, and run by the Church of Scotland’s social care arm CrossReach, is home to 23 residents.

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The late-night noise problem was solved after a massive fundraising effort by the St Giles’ Cathedral Neighbourhood Group.

David Marsland, the hostel’s managing coordinator, said: “The Cowgate is a great location for all the services that we need, but it is a noisy place at night, especially at the weekends and during the Edinburgh Festival, when pubs are open until 4am-5am.

“The noise has been going on for a long time, at least the whole 12 years I’ve worked here. The Cowgate is closed off to traffic and we would hear a lot of the shouting and swearing, never mind the loud music. But I would say the council were good when contacted about the music problem.

“When people are facing crisis in their lives and are trying to get themselves back together, a lack of sleep when they have meetings with social workers and nurses does not help.”

“The curtains have been very helpful for clients who have noticed a real difference.”

The new curtains have been hung in the 15 rooms facing the Cowgate.

Fredie Evans, 51, who has lived in the short-stay, supported hostel for six months, said the new curtains had made a big difference to residents’ lives.

“People who live here really appreciate that these curtains have been put up to try and help them get as good a night’s sleep as possible.

“The Cowgate is a busy street and they help blank out the noise and street light. The more we rest at night the better we function during the day.”

Simon Bolam, convener of the St Giles’ Cathedral Neighbourhood Group, said: “We were delighted to be told by the residents that the previously noisiest rooms are now the quietest.

“This was a great result for us as well – we got an enormous kick out of being able to help our neighbours in the Cowgate in such a positive way.”

Crossreach operates 13 services across Scotland, supported by more than 100 staff, in locations including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Angus and the Western Isles aimed at tackling the root causes of homelessness such as family breakdown, unemployment and eviction.