The Care Van


                                    The Care Van in Edinburgh


                                                                                       Edinburgh City Mission


Some background

25 Years of the Care Van Cameron Black, Care Van Manager

"The Care Van started 25 years ago. Edinburgh City Mission and Bethany

Christian Trust came together, in the persons of Alan Berry and Bill Chalmers,

and started going out on Friday and Saturday evenings. They soon upgraded

from the vehicle they had been using to do the initial runs to a caravan that they

adapted for the purpose. 

Bill wrote at the time: “Since December, every Friday and Saturday evening,

a team of volunteers from churches in and around Edinburgh have taken to the

streets of Edinburgh from 11.30pm to 2.30, sometimes 3.00am, with soup, rolls

and clothing. It has been tough going, standing on the streets on cold wintry

nights. It’s all worthwhile when you see the look of delight on the face of someone

about to spend the night in a graveyard.” Inside this edition of the newsletter, we

are featuring a Volunteer Story from those early days. The Care Van now operates

every night and much earlier, but volunteers still enjoy that gratitude expressed

when meeting real need. The Care Van is going out more than ever before and

while it is our privilege to serve those on the street we are struck by how many

people use the service. We provided over 2300 meals last month and the figure

seems to keep rising. If the Care Van was a person, perhaps it would have a wee

toddler now and we see this in the Lunchtime project, which started in 2013 and

is also helping in the effort to meet the demand, that even 25 years on, we see growing." 

                                                                                                                      Read more






Some members of the congregation are involved with the Care Van:

Christine Laurie tells us their experience with the Care Van:

"It is the same size of an ice cream van and meets the needs  of people who are

homeless with a little comfort of a hot cup of homemade soup a roll and someone

who will say hello to them. It starts at 9 p.m. in the centre of town and the team who

is out on the night take the time to talk to people and listen to their story. Feeding

someone and listening to them is one of our human needs and we all need this in

our lives including the homeless. Most nights we finish just after 11p.m."




In our Church magazine last January Anna Robertson gave a 

description of a night in the Care Van and you can reat it below:

"It is October, dark now when we go out, getting much colder, tonight dry but a

strong cold wind and no night shelter until November. The usual mixed crowd

at Waverley, so many appreciative, mannerly, grateful for what we have to offer.

A very demanding female looking for clothes, never satisfied, always asking for

more, and in contrast a bloke having been given the last pair of shoes hands

them on to someone else whose shoes are in a worse state than his. A young

chap bouncing off the side of the van, difficult to say if the cause is alcohol, drugs,

perhaps either or both aggravated by a medical condition. Everyone is hungry,

coming back for more soup, rolls, coffee tea and biscuits.  Some have places to

stay others have no option but to sleep rough.  They say last night was bad, the

combination of rain, wind and cold so difficult to cope with, sleeping bags still wet

from then to huddle in to tonight. Clothes are handed out, care team members mingle

and chat, hear the stories of hardship, of striving to rise above homelessness, away

from drugs and alcohol, so difficult to achieve.


We move on to Kings Stables Road and meet in with a couple of characters, Laurel

and Hardy or Francie and Josie, that’s them.  We all have a laugh, they consume

copious cups of soup, tea and coffee in an attempt to warm up, express their sincere

appreciation of all that the Care Van Teams offer them and we enjoy each other’s



On to the Grassmarket and while serving some customers a group of Welsh lads

on a Stag Weekend come up to find out what the Care Van does.  They say they

value what we are doing and give us £15 to help provide for our customers.

Final stop the Bridges where we have a few customers and two of the team give

extra help to a girl with a prosthetic leg who does not have enough clothes to keep

warm, who has not eaten all day and who needs help to get warmly wrapped

against the cold in a sleeping bag.


It has been a long night, we have given out all our rolls, moved from homemade

soup to Cuppa Soup, run out of milk at last moment, helped clothe a lot of people

but have received so much warmth from so many, have laughed with them, wept

for them.  We head off back to Leith then back to our own homes, thankful for all

our blessings and remembering all those we leave behind on the streets."






Visit Bethany Christian Trust

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