Liverpool City Council has doubled the capacity of its overnight shelter at Labre House to make sure that no-one needs to sleep on the street.
In recent weeks and during the cold weather, the council and its partners have been working hard to make sure there is enough room for everyone indoors.
As part of its Always Room Inside campaign, the council launched Labre House last November. It offers a safe overnight space for anyone who needs a place to stay.
The centre is the only one of its kind in the country that accepts everyone through its doors, regardless of their circumstances.
Staff at Labre House say that during the recent cold spell they witnessed unprecedented demand for the centre’s services.
Charlotte Joyce, who is Service Manager for The Whitechapel Centre, which runs Labre House on the council’s behalf, said: “There has been a big increase in demand at Labre House.
“Our teams are out on the streets every night letting rough sleepers know that there is somewhere for them to stay. We have also seen an increase in calls from concerned member of the public. On one evening we received 60 calls in two hours alerting us to people who may be at risk.”
Council staff have been working to open up an extra floor of Labre House, adding at least an extra 40 spaces.
Formerly used as storage space, the floor has been cleaned, painted and new lighting has been installed. It was put into use for the first time this week.
Liam, 33, has been accessing the centre for four weeks.
“It’s a real lifeline,” said Liam, who became homeless in November. “People living on the streets are really scared of what might happen to them in this cold weather. A lot of us don’t know where we would be without Labre House.”
Since accessing Labre House, Liam has also been able to make use of a range of services provided by the council and its partners. Now he is looking forward to moving on to a place of his own.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, said: “Tackling homelessness in our city is one of my priorities, that’s why we directly help 7,000 people each year from becoming homeless in the first place.”
“During the recent cold weather it made sense to expand the operation at Labre House to provide rough sleepers with immediate access to warmth, food and shelter in a central location. We also opened the extra floor to cope with potential increased demand.”
“Labre House is much more than just a place to spend the night. For its users, it is the first step out of the situation they find themselves in.”
The Mayor added: “We would like to thank those members of the public who have shown concern and alerted us to people who may need our help.”
“The message from the council and its partners is a simple one: there is always room inside.”
Anyone with concerns about a rough sleeper can call the Always Room Inside helpline on 0300 123 2041.
The Whitechapel Centre staff member Dianne Sorensen at the new space for rough sleepers at Labre House.