Number of rough sleepers rises locally

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Used sleeping bag in Liverpool city centre. Pic © Shaun Keenan JMU Journalism

The number of rough sleepers on the streets of Merseyside has hit the worst level since records began, with 65 people sleeping rough in Autumn 2017, according to authorities.

There were 40 rough sleepers registered in 2016 – which is a 63% increase – and there has been a rise of almost fivefold since the turn of the decade.

New statistics provided by the government revealed that an estimated 4,751 people spent a night on the streets of England in 2017 – rising 15% from the previous year.

The figures show London as the host to the majority of rough sleepers in the country, but the North West suffered the biggest regional increase (39%), where instances doubled in the previous two years, and quadrupled since 2010.

Liverpool City Council officially opened a new rough sleeping shelter last month in a bid to tackle rising numbers of homelessness in the city.

Labre House on Camden Street is one of the most ambitious centres of its kind in the UK, giving a safe and warm environment for those who need it most.

However, the night shelter’s ambitions continue to get bigger and bolder as the project undergoes renovation work that will see it provide outreach teams, substance and alcohol support and GP services.

YouTube: Shaun Keenan

Russell Ainsley, The Whitechapel Centre’s outreach manager, told JMU Journalism: “Whether it’s cold or whether it’s warm, this is somewhere were they can come and have an evening to feel safe.

“We can move them forward in terms of their health and their wellbeing. This is a stepping-stone really. They can then be seen by outreach workers, who will work out a plan forward, after they leave this building,” he said.

Liverpool City Council said it spends over £11m per year on homelessness support that includes funding over 700 beds a night.

Ruth McCaughley is fundraising manager at The Whitechapel Centre. She told JMU Journalism: “The homeless headcount is something that happens every year and it really just gives an indication of numbers.

“It shows the upward trend of the homeless being found on the streets, so it’s almost like a snapshot of one night in the city.

“Labre House is opened every night for anybody to come in and we have seen over 50 people using the centre. It is going to make a massive impact on the number of people sleeping out on the streets.”

About Shaun Keenan, JMU Journalism