"My mum was diagnosed with mental health problems when I was 16. I found it hard to cope and would leave home to stay with friends or sleep rough. An outreach worker from the Whitechapel found me, they helped me deal with what was going on at home, they put me in touch with organisations who could help me and my mum. I'll always be grateful for that."
"My name is Keith and I have been in contact with the Whitechapel Centre for the last eighteen months. My first experience with the centre was when I was homeless and sleeping in the city centre. A woman from the Big Issue told me they could help, and arranged for me to attend the day centre on Langsdale St.
The support and kindness I got at the centre was of great help to me at a very difficult and stressful time. The staff were very understanding of my situation, and easy to talk to. The staff helped me get off the streets into a nice hostel almost straight away. I was happy to be off the streets and I started to get help for my mental health problems. The centre also arranged for me to be brought to medical and other appointments regarding housing. I was also put into touch with other agencies that could help me with the situation I was in.
After a few months I was able to move into my own flat, and the Whitechapel centre helped me any way it could to make that move. I was accepted onto the Whitechapel resettlement programme which helped me make the move from the hostel to my permanent address. I was helped by my support worker Gary in arranging my flat and his assistance has been most helpful in making everything run as smoothly as possible. Without the help and support of Gary and his team I would have been still on the streets and for want of a better word 'lost'.
The Whitechapel team makes a real difference to people like me who would otherwise be forgotten about. I cannot thank them enough for all the support they gave, and continue to give to me."
"I suppose I'm not what you would consider homeless, I live in sheltered accommodation and am a widow. I didn't really notice but I became quite withdrawn over the years.
Meeting Whitechapel through the floating support programme helped me to re-discover myself and regain the confidence I'd lost. I'm involved more around my building and I'm much happier. I know, if I need them, I can rely on Whitechapel."
"A lot of bad things happened to me very quickly and I found myself without a house or a home. I was put onto the Whitechapel, I resisted at first because I didn't think I fitted the profile of what a homeless person should be - although I was without a home. It was a revelation, the people they work with and the things they do. My life has turned around since them, but I doubt it would have without their help and support."
Jenny is 76 and has lived and worked all her life in Liverpool. She has two children and five grandchildren. Jenny and her husband owned their home, living in it for over 30 years, bringing up their family. When Jenny’s husband died suddenly a few years ago she began to struggle to look after her finances and the property so she sold the house on to her son. Jenny remained in her home until her son told her to leave so that he could rent it out.
Jenny moved in temporarily with her daughter, but the house was already full and jenny had to sleep on the sofa. This overcrowding, together with jenny’s forgetfulness, put a strain on their relationship and sometimes jenny had to sleep on the sofa at her grand-daughter’s flat nearby.
Jenny was referred to The Whitechapel Centre and was allocated a support worker, Lisa, on the older persons resettlement project.
Lisa helped Jenny get together the evidence she needed to support her housing application (evidence of her medical needs, proof of benefits and so on). Lisa helped Jenny look for properties and make bids on Liverpool’s Propertypool letting system. Jenny was quickly offered a flat in a housing association sheltered accommodation near to her daughter and grand-daughter. Lisa accompanied her to view the property, which they agreed would be ideal for Jenny.
Lisa helped Jenny move in at the end of July. There were a few hiccups - the lift broke down on moving day but everyone helped out, even the lift engineer helped with the sofa. The Whitechapel Centre is continuing to work with Jenny to settle in, helping her to access medical services, sorting out her benefit claim and setting up direct debits for her bills, ensuring that she is able to live independently. Jenny is happy in her new home. She has begun re-establishing relationships with her children and grandchildren. Jenny’s family have been visiting and helping her to arrange things the way she wants.
Jenny said, “I don’t know what I would have done without the support from The Whitechapel Ventre. Within a few months I’ve gone from sleeping on a sofa to living in a lovely flat that already feels like home. They have been wonderful.”
Wayne had alcohol issues, suffered with depression and was at risk from local youths. While Wayne was under the influence of alcohol the youths would enter his home, damage his property, disturb neighbours with their antisocial behaviour and financially exploit Wayne. He attempted suicide twice, had liver damage, was struggling to manage his diabetes and regularly attended A&E when in crisis with his mental health and physical conditions.
The Whitechapel Centre began working with Wayne and immediately made a referral to adult safeguarding. A plan was developed between the social worker, police and the housing officer to reduce the risk of further exploitation and to keep him safe. We helped Wayne to apply for sheltered accommodation and supported him to resettle into a bungalow in a different area where he was no longer targeted by youths.
This fresh start enabled Wayne to address his alcohol issues which he recognised had a negative impact on his health and vulnerability. We referred him to Liverpool Community Alcohol Service who gave him harm reduction advice that equipped him to reduce his alcohol intake considerably. We also ensured he was in receipt of the correct benefits.
With our help Wayne began to engage better with his GP, mental health services and community nursing which has helped him to maintain his mental wellbeing and physical health without anymore A&E attendances. We encouraged Wayne to take part in activities that improved his confidence and reduced his isolation. Wayne is now independently managing his tenancy and his life has significantly improved.
Two years ago Simon was living with his girlfriend in her house. When the relationship ended Simon found himself out on the street with a bag of belongings and nowhere to go. Simon slept rough for 10 days in the city centre and sometimes in Sefton Park. He describes those nights, “It was not pleasant, you can’t wash or get cleaned up and you never feel safe.”
While he was on the streets Simon was found by police who directed him to the Whitechapel Centre. On arrival at the centre he was able to have a shower and some food before meeting with a support worker. Within a couple of hours we had secured Simon a bed in a local hostel.
Simon spent 4 months in the hostel before he moved into his own flat. Simon explains more, “I never thought I’d end up homeless, I was just left with no option when my girlfriend threw me out. I was lucky that I didn’t have any addictions and was able to get back on my feet quite quickly. But I will never forget the experience of sleeping rough.”
Simon, now 27, has recently launched his own catering business providing a workplace lunch service. One of the first deliveries Simon made was to the Whitechapel Centre, to donate lunch for service users. “I wanted to say thank you for the help the Whitechapel Centre gave me that day. I didn’t even know they existed but without their help who knows what would have happened to me.”
Anna was a professional nurse and loving mother to two young children. Her family and colleagues were unaware that after she finished her shifts, she was going home to suffer domestic abuse by her partner. The violence she suffered had a detrimental effect on her physical and emotional state; she turned to alcohol as a method to cope. Due to her alcohol dependency Anna found herself in the criminal justice services, lost custody of her children and was suspended from her employment.
Anna entered rehab, and with sheer determination battled her dependency on alcohol. She was referred to The Whitechapel Centre resettlement service from a supported housing scheme. Although accepted on housing list, housing associations were unwilling to offer accommodation, without the return of her children but the criminal justice service and social services were unable to place the children with their mother until a suitable home had been secured.
Trying to secure a three bedroomed home stipulated by social services was a challenging task. The Whitechapel Centre approached various housing associations until we were able to negotiate a provisional housing offer which was accepted by social services and the criminal justice service. A rehabilitation order was awarded at court; this in turn led to securing a family home. We helped Anna to resource furniture, set up utilities and accessing other services in the area.
With support from the Whitechapel Centre Anna has put domestic violence and alcohol dependency behind her, and now has a new start in a furnished home, which is safe and secure. Her two young children will be returning to their new home with their loving mother, who is looking forward to returning back to the caring profession and a stable lifestyle.