Liverpool City Council moves quickly to relocate rough sleepers

More than 60 rough sleepers and homeless people have been moved out of Liverpool City Council’s Labre House night hub to alternative accommodation due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Whitechapel Centre staff from across the project worked throughout the weekend to ensure that the majority of people currently using the Camden Street shelter were helped to relocate into more appropriate accommodation.

The team also prepared food parcels for everyone leaving Labre House over the weekend to ensure they had something to eat when they entered their new accommodation.

Labre House can accommodate up to 90 rough sleepers per night but its communal meeting and sleeping areas now make it unsuitable for use during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The council and its partners have been offered the use of more than 100 single occupancy aparthotels and 50 more for family groups across the city during the crisis. Those who remain at Labre House are service-users who require more complex support packages, which means aparthotel accommodation would be unsuitable. Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to sleep rough has fallen drastically, with just three people seen sleeping on the streets on Sunday night.

Outreach workers from The Whitechapel Centre are continuing their regular city centre rounds, speaking to those who remain outside and encouraging them to accept help. The drive to relocate all the service-users from Labre House will continue at a pace this week. But workers say that some service-users, even those who have been found accommodation, may still be coming out onto the streets of Liverpool to beg.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “Liverpool has moved quickly to support its vulnerable, homeless and rough sleeping community during this difficult time. 

“We have been overwhelmed by the offers of support we have received from the city’s hotel sector and we still have offers coming in. It illustrates how the people of this city are more than willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in most need of help.”

“The challenge for us now is to accommodate those people with complex needs, which we are hoping to do through our existing network of temporary accommodation.”

Cllr Hinnigan added: “Whilst we have seen a decrease in the number of people sleeping rough as more accept the support that is being offered, there are still some who are refusing our help and those who come onto the streets to beg. 

“However, we will continue to work with them to ensure that everyone has the support they need.”

Whitechapel Centre Chief Executive David Carter said: “Our staff and volunteers have been amazing. They worked tirelessly over the weekend to settle people into their new accommodation and make sure they have everything they need, including toiletries, food and essentials. But this is just the start, our team will be on site 24 hours a day to provide intensive support to enable to people to stay indoors and stay safe. We will also be supporting clients throughout the city who are self-isolating with regular welfare calls and distributing regular food parcels.”

• If people have concerns about someone sleeping rough on the streets of Liverpool, they can call the Always Room Inside helpline: 0300 123 2041.