RISING numbers of homeless Scots are seeking help this winter, with one emergency shelter reporting an increase of more than 60% in rough sleepers looking for a bed for the night.

Glasgow City Mission, which provides a temporary place for the homeless to sleep during cold winter months, said it had 711 cases come through the door during December compared to 437 in 2014, a rise of just over 60%.

On the busiest night, there were 31 people sleeping in the shelter based in the city’s East Campbell Street in the city's east end, compared to a peak of 21 during 2014. And on the quietest night in December there were 14 people – compared to four the previous year.

Organisers say the reasons for the increase are unclear, but they believe it is part of a national trend. Services which help the homeless in Edinburgh and in Aberdeen have also confirmed a rise in numbers seeking help.

Grant Campbell, chief executive of Glasgow City Mission said: “We were aware that moving further east in the city ... could make the service more accessible to more rough sleepers, but we don’t believe this accounts for the scale of the increase we’re seeing.

“We are always concerned about the pressure that Christmas puts on families who are just coping, and each January we see a further increase in rough sleepers needing our support making these figures even more alarming.”

He added: “As well as providing a safe place to sleep for the night, we and our partners are working hard to ensure no one needs return to the night shelter.”

Homeless charity the Bethany Christian Trust, which runs a temporary emergency shelter over the winter in Edinburgh, has also reported a rise in numbers seeking help. In November it said it was at full capacity only a couple of weeks after opening up, which had never been experienced before.

The charity was unable to provide exact figures for the festive period but Ian Gordon, chief executive of the Bethany Christian Trust, said the number of people using the care shelter had been “higher than expected” over Christmas.

He added: “Relationship breakdown is one of the main reasons leading to homelessness, but issues such as debt, health problems and substance addiction are often factors too.

“We are working closely with the City of Edinburgh Council to help some of the most vulnerable members of our society and discussions are ongoing to see how we can best address this issue."

According to latest Scottish government statistics, there were 8,500 applications for assistance with homelessness between April to June 2015, a 7% decline on the previous year’s figures. However there were 10,666 households in temporary homelessness accommodation at the end of June, an increase of 5% on the same in 2014.

Aberdeen does not have a winter night shelter, but a homelessness charity runs a service called Street Alternative four days a week which offers showers, meals and clothes-washing facilities as well as advice.

Lynsey Allan, deputy manager of advice and information services at the Aberdeen Cyrenians, said there had been an increase in people seeking help to find a bed for the night.

She said: “Our Street Alternative service opened up every day over the festive period to ensure that people always have somewhere to go and eat and wash their clothes.

“During the public holidays we saw a significant increase in those presenting at our service requiring accommodation for that evening – there was an increase from last year in those presenting over the festive period.”

She said around 20 people attended each daily session, although this could include also people who are not homeless but could not afford electricity to heat food or wash their clothes.

“It is not always because someone is sleeping rough – it also covers people in financial hardship, for example,” she said. “But there was an increase in people who were needing to access accommodation that evening.”