A GROUP of generous Rangers fans have raised tens of thousands of pounds to help Glasgow’s homeless community.

Around £60,000 was raised during one of the Rangers Charity Foundation’s ‘Big Ibrox Sleep Outs’ at the Govan stadium – half of which went towards the Glasgow City Mission’s Winter Night Shelter.

The donations meant the East Campbell Street shelter could remain open later into the month of March when it would have otherwise been forced to shut

And the group were able to see their impact first hand, after spending two weeks volunteering at the shelter before it’s untimely closure on March 18.

As previously revealed in the Glasgow Times, the shelter was ordered by the Scottish Government to immediately close last Wednesday after a staff member and guest both tested positive for COVID-19.

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But the additional funding raised by the Foundation means staff will continue to be paid for the entire month – meaning guests can be supported as much as possible through exisiting services.

This includes trying to find them alternative accommodation, as well as giving out hats, scarves and gloves.

Some have already been provided with temporary hotel accommodation.

Before the closure, fundraisers from the Big Ibrox Sleep Out took it in turns to volunteer at the night shelter’s morning shift – helping to serve breakfast and clear beds.

Their fundraising efforts have been hailed as life-saving by shelter bosses.

Jack Geddes, marketing and fundraising manager at Glasgow City Mission said: “We continue to be amazed and humbled by the commitment shown by the Rangers Charity Foundation and the Rangers fans for the night shelter.

“Again the money raised ensures that we were able to open for four months instead of three.

“Your generosity is saving lives, thank you so much.”

Louise took part in the event and went on to volunteer. She said: “What an absolutely humbling experience - hats off to the volunteers who help all the time, or even now and again!

“It was so good to see where the money we raised went and I wish I could help more.”

Glasgow Times:

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Another volunteer, Sharron, added: “We have just left the centre and it’s the best start to a working week I could have asked for.

“We gave our thanks to the team there but mostly they are so grateful for the money we have raised to keep them open through the month of March.”

On the completion of the two weeks, Rangers Charity Foundation director, Connal Cochrane, joined the volunteers and helped to officially present the donation to Glasgow City Mission.

Commenting on the visit, he said: “Seeing our fundraisers so passionately support the night shelter was an extremely proud moment for me.

“We were delighted to host more ‘Big Ibrox Sleep Outs’ than ever in 2019 and participants raised an incredible £60,000 – half of which ensures that the night shelter is able to remain open in a month when the weather is still very cold and guests are able to benefit from a free, warm place to sleep with food.

“The other £30,000 ensures that we are able to continue to act as a force for good on behalf of the Rangers Family, both locally and across the globe. I cannot thank our fundraisers enough for their continued and unwavering support.

“We at the Foundation remain in contact with Glasgow City Mission and wish to express our solidarity towards their important work at this challenging time.”

The Big Ibrox Sleep Outs took place on November 15,16,22 and 23 last year and involved a group of hardcore fans spend a cold winter’s night at Ibrox Stadium with just a sleeping bag for warmth.

Glasgow Times:

The event provides a small glimpse into the nightly conditions into the people of Glasgow who are street homeless.

This is the fifth year the club has backed the night shelter to benefit from the fundraising nights.

The shelter houses almost 700 people annually in its four months of operation – which runs annually from December 1 to March 31.

It initially planned to bring its closing date forward to March 20 ahead of any potential virus spread, but instead were forced to close with immediate effect on March 18 following the two positive cases to protect other guests and staff.

A statement from the shelter at the time read: “The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced to us at Glasgow City Mission that shelters are not an appropriate accommodation solution during a pandemic.

“To continue to allow mass sleeping in the face of advice to the contrary is to put vulnerable people at significant intentional risk, while on the face of it keeps many onlookers satisfied that ‘at least they are not out in the cold’.

“It is, in our mind, a case of out of sight is out of mind. We cannot do that in good conscience.

“COVID-19 is going to change how we think about many things, we trust that it will be a turning point for the way in which we approach the accommodation of all vulnerable people who have sought a safe haven in Scotland.”