Freedom award for Whitechapel Centre

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Dignitaries and guests in the council chamber at Liverpool Town Hall as the Whitechapel Centre receives the Freedom of Liverpool. Pic by Hamish Ellwood © JMU Journalism

Dignitaries and guests in the council chamber at Liverpool Town Hall as the Whitechapel Centre receives the Freedom of Liverpool. Pic by Hamish Ellwood © JMU Journalism

Decades of dedicated service to help the homeless on Merseyside earned their full recognition this week, as the Whitechapel Centre was awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.

The charity has provided support for more than 40 years to those in Liverpool who are sleeping rough, socially excluded or in housing poverty.

To honour that commitment, the Whitechapel Centre was formally admitted to the ‘Freedom Roll of Associations and Institutions of The City of Liverpool’ in a special ceremony at the Town Hall on Tuesday.

Last year alone, the independent charity worked with 2,814 people, 955 of which they prevented from becoming homeless, and 1,321 were supported into new accommodation.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roz Gladden, opened the ceremony and spoke about her relationship with Whitechapel.

JMU Journalism TV (2013): Homeless in Liverpool

She said: “The charity supports some of the most vulnerable and isolated people in our community, helping people find and maintain a home, gain independence and move forward in their lives. The centre continues to respond to the changing needs of its kind, developing new solutions to prevent, and end, homelessness”.

David Carter of the Whitechapel Centre in the council chamber at Liverpool Town Hall. Pic by Hamish Ellwood © JMU Journalism

David Carter of the Whitechapel Centre in the council chamber at Liverpool Town Hall. Pic by Hamish Ellwood © JMU Journalism

David Carter, the Chief Executive of The Whitechapel Centre, accepted the prestigious honour and signed the Freedom Roll. Mr Carter gave two speeches outlining his 30 years at Whitechapel, reflecting on the changes he has seen in his time and how the charity has adapted.

He said: “The causes and effects of homelessness are constantly changing. Forty years ago, when The Whitechapel Centre started, most of the people who came to us were male, aged 35-55 and alcohol was the biggest support need. Fast forward 20 years to the 1990s, that age rate had reduced – 25-45 were the majority of people coming to us and drug use became the biggest support need.

“What we find is people have multiple needs, not a single issue,” he added. “For this reason our services continue to change, however what hasn’t changed is our ethos. I believe in every individual, and they should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

About Hamish Ellwood, JMU Journalism