The winter months could see Glaswegians ‘finding corpses on the streets’ if the city’s homeless epidemic is not tackled, charity bosses have warned on World Homeless Day.

As the colder months edge closer, the danger to those sleeping rough across Glasgow increases.

The risk of low temperatures, coupled with the increase in pressures on homelessness services, means those sleeping on the streets are putting their lives on the line on a nightly basis.

Many people who have been in and out of the homeless system say themselves that the thought of facing another winter battling against the elements is a frightening one.

Despite support from volunteer groups who provide sleeping bags, coats and much-needed meals, 45-year-old Mark from Possil is terrified for his life.

Those who have worked with him since he was made homeless last year say he was initially an imposing figure. However, he has since faded away, his face drawn in and weathered, with his 11 months on the street now catching up with him.

Mark claims he is now close to the edge, worried he does not have the energy to face the cold and wet months ahead, leaving him fearing him for his life.

He added: “I don’t even think I’ll make the New Year. Some people are alright, some are right a********.”

“I don’t want to go through another winter like that - it’s tough - the weather and the people.”

While some who are registered as homeless in the city will spend nights in allocated temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts, others will be left with few options other than bedding down in a lane or doorway.

One of those that remains to them is the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter, run by Glasgow City Mission.

Started ten years ago by the Christian charity, the site is open four months a year, running from December until March.

With 40 beds available each night on a first come first served basis, last winter saw more individuals using the service on East Campbell Street than ever before, with 691 people seeking solitude during the colder months.

Phil Wray, head of projects at Glasgow City Mission, said: “It was started by one of our previous chief executives, who saw snow on the ground, saw people being forced to sleep rough because there wasn’t an alternative and said that’s completely unacceptable.

“We’ve kept it running ever since as we’ve seen, because we see, particularly in winter, this is a crisis service when all other options have failed the folks on the street.

“We provide a space that is safe, warm, welcoming and a space where people can come and feel valued and accepted, with a chance to engage with some of our partners and hopefully move onto something a little bit better.”

While the service is there, those in charge accept that some people remain hesitant to use the service.

Last year, despite seeing more individuals than ever before, the shelter was never at capacity.

This is in part down to partnerships with other charity, health services and other care providers, which they report to have been very successful over the past year.

However, with some people so entrenched in homelessness, it can be difficult to convince them to take a step and trust institutions that have previously failed them.

The mission’s head of projects added: “The system still is not working for people - or at least not for all of the people, all of the time.

“The reason the bed nights came down was getting the partnerships right, particularly with the HSCP in homelessness. It’s no secret, there are many occasions when they don’t get it right - nonetheless, we have to work with them.

“The system has rejected them so many times it must just seem their lives are just a game of snakes and ladders where it’s all snakes.

“So they may numb that all out with drink or drugs, and the only people who may vaguely care is the other person beside me under the bridge.

“Some people have become so entrenched in homelessness - it’s very difficult to reach out to them - but we continue to try.

“I’d love to imagine that we could get to a place where we can start to reduce the need for the shelter at all. But that isn’t going to disappear in a couple of years.”

For those who continue to rough sleep through the winter, the risks are extreme.

Phil and his team at the shelter have first hand experience of dealing with numerous medical emergencies, and are in regular contact with the emergency services.

For those on the street and without a team there to react, medical issues can prove fatal.

Phil said: “We have guests for whom it is very touch and go. I know we sometimes refer to services as life and death, but I think on some occasions that is literally true.

“We have had to do CPR, we have had to inject with opioid blocker if we think someone is overdosing and their breathing is really bad.

“The trauma you sometimes hear as people tell the story of their lives is very distressing and quite horrific.

“If you have people who have potentially had a history of drug misuse, whose health is really poor anyway, and subject them to several nights of sleeping through the Beast for the East, I honestly believe you would be finding corpses on the street in the early morning.

“Maybe not in huge numbers, but there would be. I genuinely believe that.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership said: “We are acutely aware of the additional challenges the winter period can bring for people affected by homelessness and are currently working with our partners to ensure we’re ready to respond to any challenges that may bring. In addition to the continued operation of our statutory homelessness service, the Winter Night Shelter will run from December 1st to March 31, 2020.

“The Winter Night Shelter (operated by our voluntary sector partners) will provide emergency accommodation for people at risk of rough sleeping. The Health and Social Care Partnership will ensure staff from our Homelessness Service will be located at the Winter Night Service to ensure people are sign posted to appropriate accommodation and support. The HSCP also has contingencies in place to deal with any emergency which may result from severe winter conditions.”