Library opens its doors to the homeless

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Birkenhead Central Library where the homeless shelter is set up . Pic © Chloe Smith JMU Journalism.

A library in Wirral is going to be used as a shelter to help the homeless during the winter.

Birkenhead Central Library is opening its doors for one night a week to help those who sleep rough get through the cold windy nights.

This is a part of a community project that is running over a course of eight weeks, with nine different venues becoming a shelter for the night.

The project was created by a local charity called ‘Wirral Ark’, which is run by volunteers who aim to get the community helping people on the streets with nowhere to go.

The charity not only offers shelter but also a bed for the night, plus food and water and help them with finding a more permanent home.

YouTube: Chloe Smith 

Volunteers help set up the venue as well as preparing and serving food. They provide hospitality and companionship to  people using the shelter and they refer to them as guests.

Within the shelters there will be a maximum of 12 people allowed, and they will be provided with sleeping mats and bedding.

Wirral Ark will provide all of the sleeping items and they are responsible for removing them from the library so that it can return to normal the next morning.

Jackie Snell, who works at Wirral Ark and who coordinated the project, told JMU Journalism; “This is a pilot project so we can see if there is any issues, and then if its successful we can start planning earlier for next winter, and keep it open for longer.

“We have decided to do this because of the rise in homelessness, as at the moment there are more rough sleepers than there are night shelters.”

Each venue has been risk assessed, and the volunteers have been trained so they are aware of safeguarding.

About Chloe Smith, JMU Journalism