Homeless helped by mass sleep out

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Whitechapel Centre sleep out for the homeless. Pic by Josie O’Sullivan © JMU Journalism

Whitechapel Centre sleep out for the homeless. Pic by Josie O’Sullivan © JMU Journalism

A mass sleep out was held at St Nicholas’ Church yard in Liverpool city centre last night, to raise awareness around the issue of homelessness.

Participants at ‘St Nick’s’ used basic materials such as cardboard and sheets of plastic for warmth, experiencing first hand the harsh reality of homelessness, at a site where rough sleepers have been many times before.

‘Liverpool sleep out’ took six months to organise and was also created to raise funds for the Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool, which is a place where homeless people are able to depend on when sleeping rough out on the streets.

The centre’s chief executive Dave Carter told JMU Journalism “There’s been an absolutely brilliant response to the event. We’ve been overwhelmed by people’s willingness to take part.

“We’ve used our imagination. This sleep out raises awareness in a very practical and physical way.”

The numbers of homeless people in Liverpool is on the increase and the Whitechapel Centre has seen a rise of 32% of people coming through their doors over the last three years, which may be caused either by economic downturn, people unable to afford accommodation and welfare reforms.

On average in Liverpool, 20-30 people sleep rough per month.  Mr Carter told JMU Journalism: “That’s only the tip of the iceberg, We worked with 2,483 people last year, all of them were in housing need.”

Whitechapel Centre sleep out for the homeless. Pic by Josie O’Sullivan © JMU Journalism

Whitechapel Centre sleep out for the homeless. Pic by Josie O’Sullivan © JMU Journalism

Funds raised for the Whitechapel Centre pays for hot food for rough sleepers, engagement sessions and activities which will enable the homeless to get back on track to normal life and pay rent for accommodation.

More than 140 people registered for the event, individually raising money for the cause, as well as online donations which totalled over £16,000.

Dan Cole, the Vice President for community and engagement at Liverpool Student Union also took part. He told JMU Journalism: “I’m a keen volunteer, always trying to get involved. I’ve raised £620 so far and I’m here doing it on my own – it’s for a great cause.”

The experience also saw an emotive singing performance by ‘The Choir With No Name’, which was formed from people who were currently homeless or who had experienced homelessness at some point in their life.

About Josie O'Sullivan, JMU Journalism