The Whitechapel Centre is delighted to announce it has secured 3 year funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation for our Children & Young Persons Project.
The project complements the housing support we provide to homeless families by focusing on the well-being of children who experience homelessness. It will primarily work with children whose families are supported through the Belvidere Family Centre, Yates Court and Resettlement Service.
Clair Smith, manager at Yates Court family centre said, “We are so pleased that we are able to provide this extra support which is targeted at the children. Becoming homeless is difficult at any age but for children and young people it is particularly scary and confusing. The disruption to schooling, friendships and family life can have a huge and long-lasting impact so it’s vital that we can address it as soon as possible. We’re really grateful to the Steve Morgan Foundation for their support.”
Children who experience homelessness can be at risk of low self-esteem, low confidence, anxiety and mental health problems as a result of homelessness or the events which led to homelessness. A child's performance at school can be affected by unrecognised or unmet educational needs, lost learning time, worry and insecurity making it harder for children to commit their full attention.
The project offers additional support to children to mitigate the risk of these issues arising and to provide a route back to stability where they do arise. The focus will be education and development, health and well-being and connecting families into the local community to access leisure and cultural events.
Our experienced worker will identify the young person’s support needs and agree a plan. She will access the appropriate help, facilitating access to mainstream services and advocating for specialist provision. Alongside this we will offer a range of therapeutic activities for the children and young people; an opportunity to engage in fun, meaningful activities that will help enhance social engagement and improve self-confidence, health and well-being. Our regular activities include weekly yoga, mindfulness, drama and music sessions, story-time and a homework club.
Liam Eaglestone, CEO of the Steve Morgan Foundation said: "Education and wellbeing of children and young people of the Liverpool area are matters close to our hearts at the Steve Morgan Foundation, especially when this is compounded by issues around homelessness. We are delighted to be working with The Whitechapel Centre and provide the essential funding needed to allow them to deliver their vital support through the Children and Young Persons Project.”
I initially started my volunteering journey in November 2019 whilst I was at university studying Criminology and Sociology. It was a particularly cold, windy day and I had offered a man in the city centre, a McDonalds but he asked me if I had money to give instead. I felt really conflicted by this so politely declined but felt that I really lacked an understanding as to why he was asking for money and whether or not I should have given it to him.
I found The Whitechapel Centre whilst doing some research online and submitted an application to become a volunteer. During my training session there were so many options for me to choose from but I felt really drawn to the dynamic and fast paced environment of the day centre on Langsdale Street. However, I knew this was quite an ambitious choice as I was only 18 and had never done anything like this before.
I began volunteering every week and loved meeting so many new people, being able to provide a listening ear and make a tiny difference to someone’s day even if it was as simple as making a cup of tea or getting them another biscuit. Unfortunately, not long after I really got into the swing of things, the pandemic struck, leading the day centre to close and my role as a volunteer to change.
I began to drop off the food parcel provision for those in Covid emergency accommodation at various hotels and B and B’S across the city, working between the newly developed day centre and our donations centre. Whilst I still felt like I was making a difference and everyone was so grateful, I really missed the face to face aspect. As such, I began the next step of my Whitechapel Centre journey and encouraged by my fellow volunteers and manager, I applied to be a member of the bank staff.
Successful in this application, I was able to take up shifts in the main Covid emergency accommodation as part of the ‘Everybody In’ campaign. This was a big change from the food parcel delivery I had become accustomed to but I quickly fell back into the swing of the frontline role I missed. After 5 months of bank shifts, I was offered a permanent part time contract which allowed me to have my first caseload which I shared with another member of staff. This responsibility provided the opportunity to develop skills that been introduced to me in my very first days as a volunteer in Langsdale Street.
September 2021 saw the closure of this provision and a new role for me within the Outreach team. I quickly fell in love with this way of working and felt so inspired in the way the team worked together to find solutions for those who were rough sleeping, sometimes for the very first time. Despite this, the circumstances were often challenging, particularly in the winter months but there was such a sense of achievement in finding a housing solution for someone who had spent so long without accommodation.
During this time, I began to see a pattern in some of the people we were seeing on a regular basis and I was putting referrals into the Pathways team, who provided intensive outreach support to those where substance misuse is a barrier to accessing or maintaining accommodation. A lot of these referrals were for people that the system didn’t accommodate for and had been evicted or discharged from mainstream services for non engagement, leading them to continually rough sleep.
At this point, the end of university was fast approaching and I was looking for my post graduate job. Having been made to feel so welcome and motivated over the years, there really was no other option for me than to continue working at The Whitechapel Centre. I was fortunate enough to be offered a role on the Pathways team, finding my real purpose in support and advocacy, in a role where every single day is different. From teaching safe injecting on the street to taking people for manicures, from outreach in the snow, ice and rain to stadium tours round Anfield, I continue to feel so inspired by the staff, volunteers and people we supported over the years, knowing that I am so lucky to do a job that I love.
Claire, who is in her 20s, has a history of poor mental health, substance misuse and experienced sexual exploitation from a young age. She was experiencing homeless and despite having a hostel bed she often slept rough, which left her very vulnerable. Her experiences have led to a mistrust of professionals as she felt constantly let down. Claire’s substance abuse and addiction meant that she often overlooked and sacrificed her mental health treatment.
After Claire’s most recent episode of being unwell, she was introduced to the Pathways team. This is a specialist team made up of psychologists, substance misuse experts and our homelessness engagement team. They work with people who have an addiction in a holistic, trauma-informed way. The team worked relentlessly to get Claire a place in a mental health unit where she responded well to treatment. The team visited her several times a week while she was in treatment and built up a good rapport.
Claire is now living in supported accommodation and we continue to work with her. We recently introduced her to the Life Rooms which offer a timetable of activities and educational courses. We accompanied Claire to help her find things she was interested in, with the aim that she will build up enough confidence over time to attend on her own and forge her own social network outside of services. This will help build her confidence and gain independence so that she is able to reach her own personal goals.
MEP provides a tailored, intensive learning and life skills programme of support for people experiencing homelessness and have a range of additional support needs. The programme of support is designed to empower members to get involved in making changes for themselves in order build their confidence, self-esteem and identify their interests and aspirations. By doing this we help members create a sense of purpose and belonging in the community so as to promote sustainable resettlement, thereby halting cycles of homelessness.
Since April 2022 we have received, engaged and worked with a total of 293 referrals. All were experiencing homelessness and had a range of support needs. Analysis of participants shows 53% were male and 47% female; 51% were aged 20-44, 45% aged 45-64, 2% aged 19 or under and 2% over 65.
In total 1735 engagement and learning activities have been developed and delivered, significantly higher than the original target. The reason for so many sessions has been an attempt to maximise engagement by ensuring more bespoke / tailored engagement activities. This approach has worked, as evidenced by the outcomes achieved through these activities.
The range of daily activities and learning sessions have included IT courses, ESOL classes, Football, Woman’s groups, Pet Therapy, Walking group, Photography, Music Groups, Gardening group Chapman Gardens, Pre-volunteer training, Volunteer training and opportunities, 1:1 engagement and the Lived Experience Network.
Spotlight on Housing Support
Preventing homelessness is a key element of our work, last year The Whitechapel Centre prevented homelessness for 1,447 people. We do this in a number of ways, including drop-in advice sessions, online and phone advice, as well as home visits for people needing more sustained support. For many of the people we help there are underlying issues of substance misuse, mental health, money management or similar which are putting their tenancy at risk. Home visits are also the main way of supporting people resettling into their own accommodation from hostels or temporary accommodation.
We operate a number of surgeries at locations in Liverpool including Langsdale Street, Toxteth Town Hall and Kensington Children’s Centre. Through the surgeries we support people to navigate systems e.g. Welfare Rights, Propertypool Plus applications. For some people we can resolve issues with a one-off or small number of interventions.
We encourage anyone who is concerned about their housing situation to get in touch as soon as possible,.
Mark and his mother Sarah (names changed) presented at one of our drop-in advice sessions. They explained some of the living conditions they were enduring, no running water, no heating and a lot of disrepair. Mark bought the house 30 years ago with some money left to him and has been on benefits due to medical & mental illness so was unable to fund any housing repairs.
We arranged to visit Mark and Sarah at their home. It was upsetting to find the conditions that theywere living in, collapsed floors and ceilings, the bath had completely fallen through to the ground floor. This led to their water supply being cut off for 8 months which also left them with no heating. There was a make shift floor which was made up of planks of wood for them to walk over to access the kitchen area. Neither could go upstairs due to the unsafety of the floors. Sarah was sleeping on a sofa under a bay window which had previously collapsed on her whilst sleeping.
We immediately contacted adult social care, environmental health and the fire service for help and advice. Within the week we arranged for Mark and Sarah to view a sheltered accommodation which they were happy to accept. We supported them throughout their move, arranging new furnishings and helping them to settle in.
Mark and Sarah are now living happily, comfortable in their new home with beautiful surroundings. They have sold their old house.
Big thanks to our fantastic staff team for helping us achieve Investors in People Gold in our recent assessment. The Whitechapel Centre have been IiP accredited since 2010 but only 17% of accredited organisations achieve the Gold Standard so we are really proud to once again be accredited at this level.
Known all over the world, Investors in People (IiP) accreditation is granted to organisations that demonstrate a clear alignment between business strategy and people strategies. The IiP assessment framework provides a clear benchmark against the very best performing companies, with a full staff survey and in-depth employee interviews against key performance indicators combining to not only ‘score’ our performance, but also to drive improvement into the future.
From support workers, administrators, retail and fundraisers, managers, senior managers, - our assessment illustrated our people’s unwavering passion and dedication towards delivering successful outcomes for our clients and their huge commitment to our core values which are that we are Passionate, Inclusive, Dedicated, Community-driven, Innovative and Enabling. More than this, being benchmarked against an external framework offers all our stakeholders reassurance that The Whitechapel Centre is on a journey of continuous improvement towards our Vision to be an excellent, high profile independent local charity working in partnership to see an end to homelessness, social exclusion and housing poverty in our communities.
For the last 7 years we have had a member of our outreach team based at the Royal Liverpool Hospital but last September, Liverpool, along with 17 other areas, was funded by the Department of Health & Social Care for a one year pilot to provide Hospital Inreach across the city. The new team includes a GP, nurse practitioners, a care provider and homelessness support workers. We work across 7 hospital sites across the city and aim to work with clients who would otherwise be homeless when they are discharged from hospital. We advocate on behalf of our clients, ensuring appropriate accommodation and support is in place before they leave hospital.
Some clients are already known to us and are living in hostels or on the street. However others may have been accommodated but unable to return to their home because it is no longer suitable or accessible. Once we receive a referral the team will work with case work managers, ward managers, social workers, Housing Options, safeguarding and any other professionals involved to agree the plan for discharge accommodation and the support that maybe required. Our staff will provide up to six weeks support once the client has been discharged to ensure what is in place is fit for purpose and all elements of their care is co-ordinated. We will also supply clients with practical items such as clothing, toiletries and mobile phones so appointments can be booked and family can call.
The service is not only providing care and support to the clients, but is also benefiting the hospitls. Patients who are homeless in hospital are more than twice as likely to be readmitted to hospital in an emergency, compared to patients with housing. The project is reducing returns to hospital, reducing the average length of stay and delays in discharge. All partners in the pilot scheme work closely together, with a weekly case review meeting and a daily handover. In the first 4 months of the service we have provided support to 119 people. One of these, was Harry:
After only 4 or 5 weeks they had secured me a lovely 1 bed flat. They also allocated me a support worker to help me move and settle in as I still struggle with my injuries and also a welfare officer to ensure I claim the right benefits.
I honestly don't know how I would have got through this without their help and would like to thank everyone at the centre for their support. They do amazing work and always with a smile on their faces. Particular thanks to Stephen, Rob, Dave, Michelle, Maureen, Russell and John as they have been looking after me personally but the whole team have my eternal gratitude.
Part of their vision is to help people find a route out of homelessness, maintain a home and achieve their individual potential. They have, without a doubt, helped me with the first 2 objectives and I know they will continue to support me and help me achieve my potential once I am fit again. I plan to offer my time to the centre either as a volunteer or as a staff member as soon as I am able.
Thanks again guys. You really are all superstars.
Our partners in the Hospital Inreach Service are Brownlow Group Practice, YMCA, We Are With You, Care and Connections, Merseycare HOTS team and the NHS.
The Whitechapel Centre’s Children and Young Persons Project works with children who are living with their families, experiencing homelessness and are being supported by the charity. In the last year we worked with 129 children, from birth to age 18.
While our family centres provide a safe, stable place to stay much of the support provided focuses on the parent’s circumstances. We saw the need for specific, specialist support for the children and young people and developed the project with funding from Children In Need. The effect of homelessness on children can sometimes be overlooked, but we know it can limit their opportunities to just be a child and live in a world where they have stability, routine, are carefree and able to grow, develop and have hope for the future.
All the children have experienced homelessness which can affect their well-being, resulting in a lack of self-esteem and confidence, stress, instability and loss of friends. Many of the children have had their education disrupted as a result of upheaval. Some have had difficult, traumatic experiences including domestic abuse, violence, arson, criminal activity of a family member, having a parent who has mental health and or substance misuse issues, death of a loved one as well as the children of refugee families who have witnessed war and destruction.
Our key areas of support are education and development, health and wellbeing; and involvement in meaningful activities within the community. We ensure children are in education, attend school regularly and receiving the right support for their needs. We organise regular group and individual activities to promote wellbeing, including yoga and mindfulness, drama and dance and interactive play. We also help children reconnect with old friends make new friends and join activities and groups local to them.
Many of the children are on a journey dealing with past and present experiences and struggling to find ways to express themselves. These experiences can influence the ways in which the child develops. We do a lot of work with understanding Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) and how the child that presents today can be struggling in their environment. We ask “What has happened to you” rather than “What is wrong with you” and we give children the tools and strategies to help cope with their situation and most importantly enjoy their childhoods.
Liverpool charity, The Whitechapel Centre, has announced that their main fundraising event, the Liverpool Sleepout, has been cancelled for a second year. Instead, supporters are invited to take part in a “Sleepout at Home” sponsored event.
Hettie Miles, fundraiser at the charity explains more, “Last year’s event was cancelled because of COVID and this year there is building work taking place at the venue, St James’s in the City Church. We’re very disappointed that we’re unable to hold our main fundraising event but we hope people will still support us by creating their own Sleepout At Home – in the living room, garden or balcony – anywhere but your bed.”
The Liverpool Sleepout has been taking place annually since 2014, with hundreds of people taking part and raising thousands of pounds to help the charity support people who are homeless in the city. This year’s Sleepout at Home takes place on the weekend of 8th - 10th October and Sunday 10th October marks World Homeless Day, an annual day to raise awareness of homelessness
Hettie continues, “The pandemic has meant we have had to cancel events and this has had a dramatic affect on our fundraising. Although we can’t hold the Liverpool Sleepout this year there are still plenty of ways to support the charity and we’ve already got lots of events planned for 2022.”
To take part in Sleepout at Home sign up for free here
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