Council makes winter warmer for rough sleepers

LIVERPOOL City Council is extending the opening of its winter shelter for rough sleepers.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has today (Friday, 2 December) ordered that the city’s cold weather shelter be open more often, to combat the problem of rough sleepers refusing to take a bed in temporary accommodation.

The cold weather shelter, operated by The Whitechapel Centre, currently only opens (from 10pm to 8am) when forecasts predict temperature will be 0°c or lower for three consecutive nights, in line with good practice adopted by many councils.

Now the Mayor has stepped in to change that rule so that the shelter, which is based at St Stephen’s Church, on Crown Street, opens on any given night where the temperature is forecast to drop below 2°c.

The decision has been made following a report that showed that despite the city council funding 750 beds every night for people to take up, as part of a wider £10.8m annual programme to support the city’s homeless, a core number of around 15 to 20 are remaining on the city’s streets even in near to freezing conditions.

With the current cold snap now predicted to last through to the New Year, the new cold weather rule will take immediate effect.

The move also follows a recent campaign to promote a helpline to ensure those sleeping on the streets receive support.

The No Second Night Out initiative says that while there may be many reasons why somebody sleeps rough for one night there is no reason why they need to spend a second night on the streets.

By ringing 0300 123 2041 or emailing mailto:info@whitechapelcentre.co.uk outreach workers from the Whitechapel Centre will provide a rapid response to try and ensure no new rough sleeper spends more than a single night on the streets.

Since No Second Night Out started in 2012, hundreds of people have been helped after people contacted the service, in the first six months of this year 160 calls were made to it.

Mayor Anderson said: “There is still a misconception that those who are sleeping rough are doing so because there is nowhere for them to go. We fund 750 beds a night in Liverpool but not everybody accepts the offer of accommodation because they have complex issues often related to addiction and mental health needs.

”What we are doing here is expanding the opening of the shelter so they at least have somewhere warm to go over the winter.

”Liverpool’s Cold Weather Shelter is an ideal place for those not wanting a bed and the Whitechapel Centre does brilliant work there, but it’s simply not open enough – which is why I’ve decided we change the rules on when it does.

”Hopefully by opening the Cold Weather Shelter more often we can reach these people, some of whom have very complex needs, and ensure this winter is a little less harsh for them.”