Two new street cleansing teams dedicated to areas frequented by rough sleepers are to start work in Liverpool.
The city centre has several hotspots used by the homeless which need regular cleansing and have a knock-on effect on the rest of the city centre cleansing programme.
The new teams will build relationships with those who frequent the sites, and work with homelessness support services including Addaction and the Whitechapel Centre.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “We are already doing a huge amount of work to encourage rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation such as Labre House where we can support them into a more permanent home and into a job or training.
“Despite the fact there is always room inside, we have a number of hotspot areas where people gather regularly, and this creates problems for our street cleansing teams who need to keep all areas of the city clean and tidy.
“What we are doing here is putting in extra staff that will not just keep the area clean but will act as extra eyes and ears. They will get to know those who frequent the areas, and will be sensitive to their circumstances and signpost them to other agencies who are there to help them.”
Liverpool City Council spends almost £11 million per year preventing 7,000 people becoming homeless and tackling rough sleeping.
Last November it launched Labre House – the only one of its kind in the country which accepts everyone through its doors every night of the year, regardless of their circumstances – and was recently doubled in size.
And figures for January 2018 show that Liverpool City Council and The Whitechapel Centre prevented more than 160 people from sleeping on the streets in January, while 20 of the 46 people found sleeping rough were encouraged inside.
Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet member for housing, said: “Our street cleansing teams do a great job but we believe that bringing in dedicated staff to work in these areas will make a real difference in keeping them clean and safe.
“The teams that we are putting into those areas will play a crucial role in linking back to support services who are there to support rough sleepers whenever they are ready to make the move inside.”
Staff will receive specialist training in dealing with vulnerable people and will wear protective clothing due to the nature of the items they will be clearing up, as well as body cameras.
Funding is coming from a £2 million environmental investment fund generated from efficiency savings made by creating a new arms-length company to operate refuse collection and street cleansing – Liverpool Street Scene Services Limited.
The new teams will be recruited to start work in April 2018.
Anyone with concerns about a rough sleeper can call the Always Room Inside helpline on 0300 123 2041.