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Working for a just community

Fresh Start


AUC has actively supported Fresh Start for many years. Fresh Start wasestablished in 1999.  Its aim could not have been more simple: to help people who had experienced homelessness become established in their new home. Fresh Start began with the Starter Packs, a scheme established by the Edinburgh Churches Millennium Project. New tenants, especially those recently homeless, more often than not find themselves lacking some of the simplest items needed to set up home: mugs to make tea in, a spoon to stir it, something to wash up with – or sheets, a pillow ...

As well as continuing to offer Starter Packs, Fresh Start also now has:

  • The ‘Hit Squads.’ These consist of a team of Volunteer Decorators people
    from all walks of life, who work alongside new tenants to decorate up to two rooms in their home;
  • A Befriending service to support folk moving into a new home; and   
  • The PAT testing service which offers testing services to companies and organisations, and at the same time trains up people who have experienced homelessness with a skill, qualification and the potential of a career.

Fresh Start is dependent upon the support of Edinburgh Churches in terms of resources and in their time to join the Hit Squads, be Befrienders, and make Fresh Start happen to make a lasting difference in someone’s life.

A Foodbank in Central Edinburgh – a call for volunteers.

In the past three years, foodbanks have become an increasing feature of our society.

The Grassmarket Mission, making use of the facilities of the Grassmarket Centre, have decided that there should be a food bank in Central Edinburgh, which will be run in partnership with Central Church (formerly Morningside Baptist).

The main source of food for distribution is supermarket collections, which are arranged from time to time in big supermarkets around the city. Volunteers give arriving shoppers a list of non-perishable items they might purchase and donate, and collect the items as the shoppers leave. It is heartening how successful this is, and the supermarkets normally in addition donate an amount equivalent to the profit on the food donated. The food is centrally packed into boxes for large families, small families, couples and individuals.

The local “Distribution Centre” does not make decisions about giving out the food. Instead, it gives vouchers to local “Referral Agencies”, which may be social workers, doctors or representatives of local congregations who give vouchers to people in immediate need. Initially it would be open once a week.

Volunteers are needed to help run the local centre and play a part in the collections and transport, and hope to start in the autumn. If you are interested, please contact Bob Gould.


AUC members volunteer in a number of projects throughout the city as part of their response to Christ’s calling in their lives. The following four projects are ones which AUC is overtly connected with as a community and in which members volunteer.

Edinburgh Community Chaplaincy Mental Health Drop in

NHS LothianRun by the chaplains of The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and with the support of some volunteers, this weekly drop-in offers an opportunity for an informal chat with a chaplain and with other mental health service users, over a cup of tea or coffee. After the drop-in there is a short act of worship for those who wish to stay.

The Verandah Club

For many years the Church has run a tea room at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital once a month. The hospital provides acute psychiatric and mental health services. The club provides home-baked cakes and tea, coffee etc.; sold at nominal prices, the profit being distributed to the wards. The customers are visitors and patients who can leave wards or live in supported accommodation nearby.

Grassmarket Community Project

The Grassmarket Community Project and Grassmarket Mission, are working together to get alongside people who are poor, marginalised, excluded, homeless, struggling with addiction or mental illness. Their ethos is based around trying to build community by finding ways of blurring the lines between the ‘marginalised’ and those who overlook them.

They run a kitchen, offering a dinner to those in need of it Monday to Friday and a variety of skills classes from wood working, to gardening, to weaving and more. Much of this work is done through the support of volunteers, from serving on management groups to cooking dinners.