A Church of Scotland congregation in Edinburgh has converted one of its buildings into a care shelter for up to 75 rough sleepers.

It provides a safe haven for men and women who are more accustomed to sleeping in doorways and graveyards thanks to a £220,000 refurbishment.

The wooden pews have been removed and replaced with single beds with colourful linen and blankets.

A new extension has been added to the former Stenhouse St Aidan’s Parish Church building on Chesser Avenue to house a toilet block and showers for men.

The vestry and small rooms have been converted into toilet and shower facilities for women whose sleeping quarters are in a separate area of the sanctuary.

The building has been renamed Diadem and volunteers from around 70 church congregations in Edinburgh use the kitchen to cook a two-course evening meal for users each night.

The emergency accommodation project opened in December last year on a trial basis and is a joint venture between Gorgie, Dalry, Stenhouse Church of Scotland and Bethany Christian Trust.

To date, the shelter, which is open from 9pm until 6.30am, has welcomed 653 different individuals and provided 10,767 bed spaces.

An average of 60 people, many of whom are ferried there by minibus, have used the facility each night.

A second-hand clothes bank, which also provides new underwear and sanitary products, is available and a light breakfast is served in the morning.

Gorgie, Dalry Stenhouse Church building manager, David MacLennan, said: “The feedback from clients has been very positive.

“One lady was literally dancing with joy at the prospect of having the comfort of a bed and a hot shower.

“We hope that the care shelter which is closing for the summer on May 5, will reopen on a permanent basis in mid-September once the necessary permissions are in place.”

Representatives from different support services visit the project on a regular basis to offer specialised advice and help to clients.

The care shelter has received high praise from Gorgie, Dalry, Stenhouse Church community outreach worker Michael McMullin who has experienced homelessness.

He was forced to couch surf, sleep in his car and on the streets of New Deer in Aberdeenshire for two months, seven years ago after his marriage broke down.

Mr McMullin, who is originally from Dunfermline in Fife, said he felt powerless and unloved.