Today is World Homeless Day 2018. Every year, the 10/10 is dedicated to highlighting local issues and encouraging people to make a difference. I felt the date was the perfect time to open the doors of our new homeless shelter in Liverpool.
According to statistics released by Shelter homeless charity, more than 300,000 people in Britain are officially recorded as homeless. The Cotton Street Project will welcome Liverpool’s most vulnerable members of society to enjoy a unique and inclusive shelter. This is a completely new initiative in Liverpool and will bring the city an alternative approach to our homeless epidemic.
We’re aiming to feed approximately 200 people by day and sleep 50 by night. Cotton Street will also be a place of productivity, incorporating a joinery and upholstery workshop. I feel it’s important that our guests are offered a fresh start and the chance to learn new skills in a comfortable, relaxed environment. This is certain to boost both their confidence and job prospects later on.
We’ve seen key elements of our approach work before. In the winter of 2017, we stepped into entirely new territory and Signature Living opened Kingsway House shelter. While the project came with its fair share of challenges, the success stories made it all worthwhile.
World Homeless Day 2018 – Opening Cotton Street
A converted warehouse near Liverpool docks, the shelter will be open 24-hours. In the day, the shelter will be utilised as a cafe, feeding hundreds of homeless people.
Cotton Street will be the first facility in the UK to offer full wrap around support. We don’t want to turn a blind eye to any of the challenges that come with homelessness. We’ll be offering support for deeper-rooted problems such as drug and alcohol addiction. There will be medical professionals on call and drug and alcohol councillors will also be on site.
While the shelter will maintain a high level of professionalism, I also felt it was necessary to incorporate some fun. Our guests will be able to ease themselves back into society by socialising in the communal area, building a network of new friends and connections.
The friendly environment of Kingsway House proved very effective and this is something we want to recreate. Features of the communal area include a pool table, table tennis table, chessboards and beanbags.
Support for Cotton Street Shelter
We were delighted to have Jamie Carragher join us for the Cotton Street opening this morning. Jamie showed his support last year for Kingsway House and hosted a charity football match to raise funds for the shelter. This year, the football star has joined us once again to get involved.
“What Lawrence is doing is fantastic. I am proud to give him and the Cotton Street Project my support. I’ll be keeping in regular contact with those using the shelter and hopefully helping them to turn their lives around for the better.”
“Rough sleeping is increasing day by day. I’ve heard horror stories from people whose lives have been turned upside down after losing their homes and ending up on the streets. There isn’t enough support for them at all and I don’t think local councils or the Government quite understands the scale of the problem but it isn’t just a problem for them – it is down to all of us to help out where we can.”
A Humanitarian Crisis On Our Hands
I believe that the UK has a humanitarian crisis on its hands and a Government that has turned its back on homeless people. In the fifth richest economy in the world, how can that be right? I’m in a fortunate position to lend a helping hand, that’s why I’m doing something about it.
As the cold of winter draws closer, we cannot stand still and do nothing as people freeze to death on our streets. It’s not just a problem for Local Authorities – which have had millions slashed from their budgets in recent years. This is a problem for us all. And if the public and private sector work better together I believe we can help end the plight of homelessness in Liverpool.
The spirit of Liverpool is one of generosity – and through opening the homeless shelter I’m only doing what any Scouser in my position would do.
You can keep up with the latest news surrounding The Cotton Street Project via our Facebook page or Instagram at @cottonstreetproject. We’d love to see you soon for the next chapter of this journey.