We’re fortunate to get a lot of support from local businesses, many of whom send their employees out for a corporate volunteering day - but for some employees, one day of volunteering just isn’t enough! We spoke to one of our volunteer drivers (and all-round superstar!) Cath to find out how she got involved with volunteering through her employer:
How did you first get involved with The Whitechapel Centre?
I was the CSR co-ordinator at my previous employment and it was part of my role to get involved with the local community. We are given 1 day per year to use our CSR helping local charity’s and the local community. I found out from the building reception I worked in that they took part in a 2 week CSR project that they helped out at The Whitechapel Centre with preparing and serving breakfasts for the service users. I thought this would be perfect for our office. I arranged with David, the Volunteer Manager, a 3 week rota of helping out at The Whitechapel Centre with the breakfasts. Given the volume of staff available we were also able to help out with sorting the donations out, clothes for the service users and clothes for resale at the shop.
What made you come back?
I came back as I really enjoyed the clothes sorting, and the energy and passion that David had, got me hooked. I reduced my 5 day week to a 4 day week so I could stay involved. I come to the centre as much as I can and enjoy engaging with the service users.
How has your employer supported your volunteering?
My employer supported me by allowing me to reduce my working week.
What’s your favourite thing about volunteering?
I love the interaction with the Whitechapel employees and their energy and positivity, I enjoy working with the other volunteers and I enjoy my missions and work at Blackstock street.
Do you have any advice for other people that might want to get their employer involved in volunteering?
I would definitely recommend volunteering at The Whitechapel Centre, if you have spare time then get your name down for volunteering, the volunteers and staff make you feel very welcome and part of the team, and it’s a wonderful feeling being part of it.
When starting up a business most people think of licenses, business rates, taxes, and insurance. However, Lindsay Kirkcaldy isn’t most people! Before she launched Isaac’s Bazaar she got in touch with us to find out the best way she could support homeless people in Liverpool with her new business. We met in a coffee shop at the start of the year and while I would happily have sat and spoke to Lindsay forever, she never would have got around to launching her exciting new business if I kept her there. A few months and one global pandemic later, Isaac’s Bazaar was officially born…
Julianna: Tell us a bit about the business and what you do!
Lindsay: My business is Isaac’s Bazaar, an online shop specialising in creating unique furnishings and art for your home. Everything I offer is inspired by music, exclusively designed (by me!) and handmade in the UK. Alongside the products I’ve made for my shop, my concept is to enable my customers to celebrate the soundtrack of their lives in their homes and create their own future heirloom furniture – kind of like your own personal memorabilia inspired by the most important music from your life – with my bespoke design and upholstery service.
Julianna: Why did you go for the name ‘Isaac’s Bazaar’?
Lindsay: It was after having my son (Isaac) that I sought a new career and creative outlet and retrained in upholstery, so it only seems right to name the business after him! The “bazaar” part is because I didn’t want to just be tied to one product or service – I love upholstering and upcycling pieces that we’re otherwise headed for landfill and giving old family heirlooms a new lease of life, but also enjoy creating new pieces, cushions and art prints and I’ve got lots of plans for a variety of products to showcase my designs in the future. And bazaar just sounded more interesting than shop or market!
Julianna: What made you choose The Whitechapel Centre? And why is it important to you?
Lindsay: In this day and age, living in a wealthy country there should be absolutely no reason for anyone to be without a home or food. I’ve felt sickened when I’ve personally witnessed the way that some of the most vulnerable people can be treated by members of the general public on street. For the most part it’s sheer luck of the circumstances you’re born in to that means you can have and keep a home. The job insecurity and austerity measures of recent years have highlighted how easily life can become very difficult very quickly, and there’s nothing quite like a global pandemic that impacts everything to shine a spotlight on how precarious all of our current circumstances are.
When I decided to retrain and set up my business I had two objectives – to make beautiful things and to use my skills to try to do some good. Given that my products and services are centred on homewares, there seems a nice synergy in using that platform to support a homeless charity. Being from Liverpool, it’s the staff and volunteers of The Whitechapel Centre that I have seen doing the good work on the streets, so I’ve always known that’s where I wanted to focus my charitable efforts. In fact, I reached out before I’d even completed my training so I could build it in from the start! Now more than ever I think we really need some kindness and to take care of each other.
Merseyside waste management company Gaskells Waste Services is supporting homelessness charity The Whitechapel Centre by donning some fab and funky socks to take part in the charity’s Socktober Campaign.
The Socktober campaign encourages individuals, businesses and schools to wear some funky and fabulous socks on a day in October and make a donation to the charity. The Whitechapel Centre gives out over 7,000 pairs of socks each year to those in need and it’s an item that is rarely donated in new condition.
The Bootle-based waste management company has worked in partnership with The Whitechapel Centre for several years, supporting them financially and also helping to raise awareness of the dangers of rough sleepers taking refuge in commercial bins. Gaskells’ main truck on the Liverpool route is branded with The Whitechapel Centre’s logo and phone number and all their commercial bins have stickers warning of the dangers of sleeping in bins, along with the contact details for The Whitechapel Centre.
Gaskells also actively fundraises for The Whitechapel Centre in some pretty weird and wacky ways! In the past they’ve hosted a pie-off, as well as a bin truck pull - so Socktober is right up their street and it allows all the staff to get involved.
Julianna Petkovic, fundraiser for The Whitechapel Centre said: “The Whitechapel Centre is delighted that Gaskells are taking part in our Socktober campaign! The Whitechapel Centre and Gaskells have a fantastic partnership and we have been working closely together to raise awareness and fundraise for the last few years. Teams from Gaskells have consistently taken part in lots of our events, that unfortunately due to Covid-19 can’t run as normal this year. So it’s great they are on board to have a socktastic time.”
Claire Hannah from Gaskells Marketing team said “Homelessness is an issue which is very close to our hearts as our drivers see people sleeping on the streets every single day. We’ve been working with The Whitechapel Centre for the past few years as we’ve seen first hand the work they do for homeless people across Liverpool, which is invaluable. The whole team at Gaskells really enjoys taking part in their events, so Socktober is brilliant, because all our staff can get involved, whether it’s our drivers who are out and about, our teams in the office, or even colleagues who will be having virtual meetings too! We’re all really looking forward to it and would urge as many businesses as possible to sign up and raise money for such a worthwhile cause”.
Post by Julianna
After a few months on furlough I returned to The Whitechapel Centre as their Corporate Fundraiser, raring to go and eager to speak to my colleagues about the amazing work they had been doing (and continue to do!). The name of one company kept cropping up – My Fresh Box. At the start of lockdown their founder, Alex Head, reached out to us and very kindly offered their support with a donation of 50 fresh, tasty, and healthy meals per week – that’s 2,600 meals in a year! We’ve had incredible feedback from our clients about how tasty the My Fresh Box meals are and so I was keen to speak to Alex and find out more about him, his fantastic business, and his motivation for reaching out:
Julianna: Tell us a bit about yourself/your background.
Alex: I’m Alex, the owner and founder of My Fresh Box. Before starting this up, I was a chef for 12 years up and down the country working in Michelin star, then Rosette restaurants. I then decided to open up MFB in 2018 following a similar role I was doing for a few friends of mine. I enjoy football, boxing, running and spending time with my family, nothing out of the ordinary really but keeping fit has definitely been a passion of mine.
Julianna: What made you start up My Fresh Box? Alex: I was quite ill in the summer of 2017, dropping weight down to just under 8 stone. I then started training with a PT who advised I got my nutrition on track (being a chef funnily enough hindered this due to the long and high demanding workload and long hours). I then saw my PT was using a meal prep company who weren’t really providing him with a very good quality of meals, so I just thought that I could do it for him, probably saving him money and giving him better dishes. So I started doing this for him and then a few of his fellow gym PTs also asked for some. This just sort of snowballed from there really, fast forward two years and we’re delivering to all over the UK and rapidly expanding month by month.
Julianna: Why did you choose to support The Whitechapel Centre?
Alex: Homelessness in Liverpool has always been something that troubles me, a few years back in a restaurant, myself and a few of the kitchen staff spent our night off preparing and cooking Christmas dinners for some of the rough sleepers in the city centre. Upon realising we were getting a bit of food waste in the kitchen at MFB, me and the staff decided to utilise it in a better way than eating it ourselves or simply throwing it out. We then got in touch with the guys down in The Whitechapel Centre and came up with a solution of 50 meals per week and it’s going great so far. It really does feel amazing to receive the feedback from the guys at the charity and hear about what a positive impact it’s having on the lives of some of those they help out.
Julianna: How are you partnering with The Whitechapel Centre?
Alex: We’re donating meals twice a week to them, as well as trying to raise some awareness with our social media posts and stories. Whilst chatting to the team, they mentioned donations have dropped this year due to Covid-19, and a lot of corporate events and fundraisers have been cancelled which unfortunately has really affected The Whitechapel Centre and their income. I’ve decided to raise money myself by running a full marathon with my little sister on the Saturday 24th October, I hope this will help to contribute towards what they need.
Julianna: Is this your first marathon? Why did you choose to do a marathon?
Alex: Yes, this is my first full marathon, although I ran the Liverpool half marathon a couple of years ago. I’ve always enjoyed running, and obviously a marathon is a massive task but I think pushing myself to that limit will hopefully make people aware of the commitment everyone involved with the charity puts in and encourage them to donate to this amazing cause.
Julianna: What will you be eating to fuel your training?
Alex: Luckily enough I own a meal prep company so mostly the meals from My Fresh Box, consisting of plenty of carbs for the first few weeks of training to keep my energy up, but then try and cut a bit of weight a few weeks beforehand so I’ll then follow a low calorie diet. I train in the gym three times a week and I am running two to three times a week, plus working seven days a week so I need plenty of energy. I really am quite lucky in the sense that I have access to high quality food, and I know for a fact that the meals I’ll be having are brilliant, and not just processed food you get with a lot of other meal prep companies.
Julianna: How can people help?
Alex: At the moment, donating to the page and sharing it across your social channels would be a great help. Closer to the time we’ll probably be looking for some volunteers to hand out water and food gels to us whilst were running and give us plenty of support on our route. We’re hoping to set up a big finish line at The Whitechapel Centre so any support is greatly appreciated. However, this isn’t just a one-time thing and any support for the charity in the long run would be brilliant and greatly appreciated.
To support Alex with his marathon fundraising efforts, please visit, share and donate: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alex-head5
For more information on My Fresh Box and their delightfully tasty, healthy meals, check out their website: https://www.my-fresh-box.co.uk/
Colin has been volunteering with The Whitechapel Centre since Christmas as a driver, collecting and delivering donations between venues. Colin is also a keen triathlete and when lockdown arrived many of his planned events were cancelled so he decided to set himself a challenge and raise sponsorship for the charity at the same time.
Throughout May Colin was up early running, starting with 1km on 1st, he increased his distance each day by 1km, until 31km on the 31st of the month. In total, Colin ran 496km, and for the last 10 days was running more than a half marathon a day!
Despite Colin’s fitness he found it tough going, “I’ve done endurance events before but to run every day for a month, with increasing distances, is really challenging, pretty much everything was sore by the time I finished.”
Through his volunteering, Colin has seen how the Whitechapel Centre has been supporting people who are homeless during the pandemic. He explains, “I’ve been helping out a couple of days a week, picking up donations from companies and then dropping off food parcels to clients around the city. It’s been good to see Liverpool’s response to the pandemic, people have been very kind.”
You can see all of Colin’s daily updates and sponsor him here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Colin-Vallance-Owen1
Changes to our services & information on how you can help
Now, more than ever, people who are homeless need our help.
The Whitechapel Centre remains open during the outbreak of COVID–19 to ensure that people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, can get into accommodation and be supported to remain healthy. As other services across the country have had to close, we have worked to adapt our services so that we can stay open and meet the needs of people who need it most.
Labre House night shelter and our Day Centre Services at Langsdale Street have changed and have moved. We have worked tirelessly to move all rough sleepers into appropriate, self-contained accommodation. Staff from Labre House and the Enablement Centre are now based at the new venue, providing on-site support 24/7 to ensure our clients can sustain the accommodation and receive the services they need to remain healthy. This means we have moved all food, advice and related services into the new accommodation provision – delivering services at the new point of need and keeping people safe and well.
From today, Thursday 2nd April, both Labre House and Langsdale Street day centre buildings will be closed.
With significant changes to services we have recognised that there is a need to ensure a coordinated access route into accommodation for new people who find themselves homeless from now on. Any Liverpool resident who becomes homeless will be able to access services via the Liverpool City Council’s Housing Options Service by calling 0151 233 3800 (Freephone 0800 731 6844) or online via: https://liverpool.gov.uk/housing/homeless-or-at-risk/housing-options-referral/ Click here to download an update from Liverpool City Council
Our outreach and other services for rough sleepers remain operating as normal. If you are concerned about someone who is sleeping rough please contact us on 0300 123 2041 (24 hours, low cost from a mobile).
All of our supported accommodation-based services remain open as normal for clients but non-essential visits are not allowed.
If you are concerned about your housing situation or are at risk of homelessness you can contact us for advice, Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm by calling 0151 207 7617 or online chat here on our website homepage.
Sadly, we have had to cancel many fundraising events, including the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout in May. Our charity shops are also closed and unable to receive donations. As demand for our services increases, our fundraising and donations are decreasing.
If you can, please support us - your money will help provide essential items for clients, ensuring they can stay indoors and keep safe.
More than 60 rough sleepers and homeless people have been moved out of Liverpool City Council’s Labre House night hub to alternative accommodation due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Whitechapel Centre staff from across the project worked throughout the weekend to ensure that the majority of people currently using the Camden Street shelter were helped to relocate into more appropriate accommodation.
The team also prepared food parcels for everyone leaving Labre House over the weekend to ensure they had something to eat when they entered their new accommodation.
Labre House can accommodate up to 90 rough sleepers per night but its communal meeting and sleeping areas now make it unsuitable for use during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The council and its partners have been offered the use of more than 100 single occupancy aparthotels and 50 more for family groups across the city during the crisis. Those who remain at Labre House are service-users who require more complex support packages, which means aparthotel accommodation would be unsuitable. Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to sleep rough has fallen drastically, with just three people seen sleeping on the streets on Sunday night.
Outreach workers from The Whitechapel Centre are continuing their regular city centre rounds, speaking to those who remain outside and encouraging them to accept help. The drive to relocate all the service-users from Labre House will continue at a pace this week. But workers say that some service-users, even those who have been found accommodation, may still be coming out onto the streets of Liverpool to beg.
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “Liverpool has moved quickly to support its vulnerable, homeless and rough sleeping community during this difficult time.
“We have been overwhelmed by the offers of support we have received from the city’s hotel sector and we still have offers coming in. It illustrates how the people of this city are more than willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in most need of help.”
“The challenge for us now is to accommodate those people with complex needs, which we are hoping to do through our existing network of temporary accommodation.”
Cllr Hinnigan added: “Whilst we have seen a decrease in the number of people sleeping rough as more accept the support that is being offered, there are still some who are refusing our help and those who come onto the streets to beg.
“However, we will continue to work with them to ensure that everyone has the support they need.”
Whitechapel Centre Chief Executive David Carter said: “Our staff and volunteers have been amazing. They worked tirelessly over the weekend to settle people into their new accommodation and make sure they have everything they need, including toiletries, food and essentials. But this is just the start, our team will be on site 24 hours a day to provide intensive support to enable to people to stay indoors and stay safe. We will also be supporting clients throughout the city who are self-isolating with regular welfare calls and distributing regular food parcels.”
• If people have concerns about someone sleeping rough on the streets of Liverpool, they can call the Always Room Inside helpline: 0300 123 2041.
Following the further increases in measures to minimise possible infection of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are reducing the amount of face to face contact we have with our clients. This will ensure clients and our staff do not come into contact with more people than necessary. To facilitate continued support for many of our vulnerable clients we have increased the availability of our "LiveChat" facility and will ensure increased numbers of staff are available to take phone calls from new and existing clients.
Whenever contact is made with clients we will assess any needs they have that require support other than via the phone and direct them as appropriate.