+++ Watch a video about the work of Liverpool City Council and The Whitechapel Centre with homeless people and rough sleepers here: https://bit.ly/2DLJVLw +++
THOUSANDS of people in Liverpool are prevented from becoming homeless each year.
And the vast majority of people helped out of crisis never spend one night sleeping rough on the streets.
These are the big messages from Liverpool City Council as it shows support for World Homeless Day today (10/10/18).
Each year the council invests more than £11m into services to prevent families and individuals in the city from becoming homeless, in addition from a range of support from the voluntary and community sector and other health/NHS partners. This includes everything from supporting people to enable them to stay in their own home through advice, support, advocacy and practical assistance such as hardship grants and other financial support. The council also funds roughly 750 temporary accommodation bed spaces for single people and families. At the same time, the council provides a range of support for the relatively small number of rough sleepers in the city to encourage them to come inside and get the help they need. Rough sleepers have access to support, a safe space to stay and food 24/7 through Liverpool’s Always Room Inside offer.
The main focus of these services is to prevent homelessness occurring, wherever possible. In a typical year, the city council’s Housing Options Service works with over 5,000 households who are facing housing difficulties. Demand for these services are growing with issues such as mental health issues, domestic abuse, debt and financial issues being some of the key issues facing our communities. In one recent example the council’s Housing Options Service were contacted by a concerned mother whose family was facing eviction in less than a week’s time due to rent arrears.
The woman came into the drop-in service based at St John’s Market and spoke to an officer. Discussions began with the landlord and the council used Discretionary Housing Payments to pay a proportion of the rent and prevent the family from being evicted.
All the parties agreed on a repayment schedule which was further supported by the Housing Options Prevention Fund. As a result, the family avoided eviction and remain in their home today.
Homelessness is a complex issue however, and despite the best efforts of services, it cannot always be prevented. That is why services funded by the city council include a purpose-built family homeless centre, three refuges for women fleeing domestic abuse and an accommodation service for teenage parents. In addition, to over 700 temporary accommodation beds for single people, and specialist addiction support to help people start the journey to recovery and a direct access hostel.
Liverpool City Council’s Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “We want to use the platform of World Homeless Day to raise awareness about the work going on in the city to prevent people from becoming homeless.
“For many people the visible face of homelessness in our city is the rough sleepers we see on the streets of the city centre. Whilst the council and its partners are working hard to address the problem of rough sleeping, they are only approximately 1% percent of the number of people we help with housing issues each year.”
“We provide people with access to food, health services, dental services, training and employment support and even access to the city’s sports centres, museums and art galleries.”
Cllr Hinnigan added: “The council works with a broad range of partner agencies to provide support for homeless people and those facing homelessness every day of the year.”
World Homeless Day emphasises the hands-on help given to people in crisis at local level and to illustrate one area where people receive support the council has produced a special video about how it works with homelessness charity The Whitechapel Centre to support rough sleepers.
Cllr Hinnigan added: “We work with people at every stage of the journey and our Always Room Inside campaign means that no-one in Liverpool needs to sleep rough on the streets of the city”
“Our message for World Homeless Day is; don’t suffer in silence. There is always hope and help and if you need help or know someone who needs our help, get in touch with the relevant services and we will do everything we can to help.”
If you are at risk of homelessness or know someone who is, you can contact the council’s Housing Options Service on 0151 233 3800.
If you have concerns about someone sleeping rough on the streets of Liverpool, you can call the Always Room Inside helpline on 0300 123 2041.
PHOTO; Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan with Julie Prendergast from The Whitechapel Centre and service-user Kyle Ayres.