Liverpool’s Mayor, Joe Anderson, has officially launched the council’s new rough sleeping shelter – as part of a major new drive to tackle homelessness in the city.
Labre House on Camden Street – named after the Patron Saint of the homeless, Benedict Joseph Labre – is already operational, providing a safe and warm environment for the city’s rough sleepers.
The shelter will operate between 8pm and 8am, 365 days of the year. In addition, there is a day care centre at the Whitechapel Centre on Langsdale Street, ensuring rough sleepers can stay off the streets, 24/7.
However the aim of the three-storey Labre House centre is much bolder and the building is undergoing renovation work to turn it into a hub offering a range of services. It will eventually bring together outreach teams, substance and alcohol support and GP services, in order to provide an integrated approach to supporting rough sleepers.
The Mayor’s ambition also includes helping rough sleepers access benefits and housing advice, as well as free IT and telephones, so they can get back in touch with family and friends.
When completed, Labre House will be one of the most ambitious centres of its kind in the country, providing tailored support, not only to get rough sleepers off the streets, but to help them turn their lives around – for good.
The centre will bring together the city’s various voluntary groups, so the entire effort behind tackling rough sleeping can be co-ordinated for maximum effect.
Crucially, in a break with national government policy, Mayor Anderson has insisted that all people on the streets – even failed asylum seekers who are deemed to have ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ – will also be helped.
Explaining the thinking behind Labre House, Mayor Anderson said: “I can’t begin to imagine how desperate it is to find yourself out on the streets of our city – especially during the winter.
“The council spends £11 million every year tackling homelessness – helping families and individuals avoid rough sleeping. I am now determined that we will end rough sleeping in Liverpool once and for all and I am prepared to spend whatever it takes to guarantee that no-one shivers to death on the streets of my city.”
Mayor Anderson added: “I simply will not tolerate a situation where our fellow human beings feel they have no other option than to live on the streets. This includes those deemed to have ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’. Any rough sleeper will get help.
“We will shortly be launching a campaign ‘Always Room Inside’ to explain how we are working to address rough sleeping and ensure there is, literally always room inside – day and night – and what the public can do to help us by signposting any rough sleepers they meet towards our services.”
In November, 133 people presented as homeless and at imminent risk of rough sleeping, of which 92% (122) were supported indoors and successfully prevented from spending a first night out on the street.
A total of 85 different people were observed bedding down on the streets, of which 61 were successfully supported to come indoors or return to accommodation.