Frequently Asked Questions
I am about to become, or am already homeless / I know somebody who is in danger of becoming homeless. Can you help?
Yes. If you are homeless or are about to become homeless, please visit The Whitechapel Centre during opening hours where you will be seen by a Duty Adviser. If you choose to self refer by visiting us, you will not need an appointment; but you may have a short wait before you are seen depending on the number of people waiting to be seen.
Agencies can discuss a case by telephoning us on 0151 207 7617 and asking for Duty Advice. If you are referred to us by someone else, and that agency has asked us to speak to you direct, a worker from The Whitechapel Centre will contact you at the earliest opportunity to discuss your options.
In every circumstance, the person being referred will meet a Duty Adviser at the Centre as their first point of contact with The Whitechapel Centre. Your situation will be assessed using Mainstay and we will advise you of your housing options. If you need a bed you will be referred to accommodation providers via Mainstay. However, a bed may not be available on the same day that you are homeless. We will also tell you about other services that we can offer you and, if appropriate, refer you to another agency e.g. Liverpool City Council's Homeless Service or directly link you to the most relevant service at The Whitechapel Centre which meets your needs.
Families and those aged 16 and over, can register as homeless with your local authority. In Liverpool contact:
The Housing Options Service - In person at any City Council One Stop Shop between 9am and 4pm. Or Telephone: 0151 233 3800 outside of these hours. Freephone: 0800 731 6844
If you are under 16, you should contact the police or local social services department who form part of your local council.
If you are over 16 years and are homeless, the city council has a duty to assess your homelessness status and to make a decision whether they have a duty to re-house you. If they decide that they do not have a duty to house you, they still have a duty to provide you with advice and assistance to assist you in finding your own accommodation.
A rough sleeper said you can’t help because he’s not allowed to bring his dog with him. Why not?
We recognise that many rough sleepers have dogs and they can provide comfort and companionship. We have a dog policy which allows rough sleepers to bring their dogs onto our premises while they are using our services, having a meal or meeting their support worker.
Homeless hostels in the city also allow dogs, some have kennels and others allow pets to stay in their owners room. Owning a dog does not prevent someone receiving our support.
Does The Whitechapel Centre visit organisations to talk about its work?
We are always happy to develop external relations by visiting schools, churches, community centres and businesses to talk about our work and explain what we do. We believe that by discussing the causes and effects of homelessness, we can help to de-mystify it as well as promote tolerance of those who are unfortunately without accommodation. If you would like someone from The Whitechapel Centre to visit you, please get in touch.
I keep seeing the same person on the street – why aren’t you helping him?
Many of the people we work with are homeless because of something more than a lack of access to accommodation. Many have mental health problems, substance misuse problems, offending backgrounds etc. Ending homelessness and addressing these issues can take time. Some people can become trapped in a street way of life and find it difficult to accept the help that we are able to offer them. This can prolong a person’s time being homeless. We go out daily to offer support and continue to try and persuade and encourage those people to engage with us and come indoors.
For some, we are able to ensure the person comes indoors and receives the help they need on the first day we meet them. For others it may take several days or weeks before they are ready. It is not as simple as providing a roof over someone’s head. Some clients don’t feel they are ready or able to take up the options offered to them, but this does not mean they are choosing to be homeless. Nor does this mean that we give up on them – our outreach team continue to go out daily to engage and motivate individuals to change and find solutions.
Please do continue to call us on the No Second Night Out number as it really is helpful for our outreach team to know where we can find people to offer support.
Where is The Whitechapel Centre?
We deliver our services from a number of venues across the Liverpool City Region. Our main offices are located at The Whitechapel Centre, Langsdale Street (Off Shaw Street), Liverpool L3 8DT. Click here for a map and opening hours. For bus timetables, please call Merseytravel on 0870 608 2608 or visit their website to plan your journey.
Can The Whitechapel Centre collect donations?
Unfortunately we are unable to collect donations as we do not have the resources or vehicles. You are able to drop off donations either to our centre or our charity shop. Donations are sorted at both venues and are distributed appropriately to our service users or sold to raise funds.
Should I give money or food to someone on the street?
It’s human nature to want to help someone you see on the street and we don’t want to tell you what to do with your money. We encourage people to support charities like us, so that we can provide long-term, meaningful help. There are several ways you can make a difference, e.g. letting us know about a rough sleeper, volunteering with us or making a donation.
There is free food available every day of the week in various venues in the city, including The Whitechapel Centre and other charities, churches and voluntary groups. Food can also be accessed through food banks.
Is there anyone who you won’t / can’t help?
We don’t refuse help to anyone and we don’t give up offering help. For some people, mainly those with No Recourse to Public Funds, (e.g. Eastern European migrants; failed asylum seekers and people from abroad who have permission to live in the UK but have no recourse to public funds as part of that permission) there are limited options which we can offer.
If someone is unable to claim any benefits and unable to secure employment or are prevented from working (e.g. failed asylum seekers) they are unable to pay accommodation charges. Without money or an income we are unable to identify accommodation options for people other than the Missionaries of Charity that offer free accommodation to males only, for a limited time. We can offer re-connection to Eastern European migrants and direct others to relevant agencies that can support groups in returning home.
What does The Whitechapel Centre do?
The Whitechapel Centre works with individuals/households over the age of 16 who are street drinkers, homeless, at risk of homelessness, and/or require support services to enable them begin to address their housing and support needs in order that they may be helped to realise their full potential.
Our programmes are created and delivered solely by us as well as with the support of partner organisations. There are many strands to the work we do from providing basic needs such as washing and cleaning facilities to providing a range of housing, resettlement and supported housing services which aim to enable individuals to address housing and support needs. These include helping those who have education, employment, mental health or substance misuse needs. The range of problems our service users live with are complex, we run a whole spectrum of programmes that deal with our service user’s varied needs.
For more detailed information about our work and specific services visit our What We Do pages.
Can you help me financially?
We provide support, advice and assistance in a number of ways, including provision of, and / or help to access food, washing and cleaning facilities, clothing, bedding, access to medical care, housing advice and related support. We provide welfare rights advice and can help maximise income and benefits. Also, we can help access organisations that may be able to help financially.
Do you have accommodation?
The Whitechapel Centre offers housing advice and support, which helps people access the right housing solution. We manage a range of supported accommodation services, including services for homeless families, shared accommodation for single people, and services within the private rented sector. We work in partnership with the local authority, social landlords, private landlords and other agencies to ensure access to wider accommodation options. This includes helping facilitate access to suitable temporary accommodation / supported accommodation, where necessary. Our aim has always been to find accommodation that is right for the individual and through the provision of housing and resettlement support help equip each person with the skills, support and knowledge to be able to maintain a home.
There are rough sleepers in my neighbourhood, can The Whitechapel Centre help?
Yes, we can. In the first instance you should contact us by phone (0300 123 2041) or email. Everything you tell The Whitechapel Centre will be treated with the strictest confidence and at no point will your name or other personal details be divulged. Once we have full details, our outreach workers will visit the location and begin the process that will hopefully see the rough sleepers addressing their housing needs and the issues that led them to their current situation.
When are your outreach team out on the streets?
Our outreach team are out every day, from 6am in the morning to 10pm at night, Monday – Friday, and 8am – 5pm at weekends. They have regular routes as well as responding to No Second Night Out calls. The team don’t wear a uniform as we don’t want to draw attention to rough sleeping sites but they do carry ID badges which identify them as members of our team. You can contact the team on 0300 123 2041.
I have just spoken to someone who needs money for a bed in a hostel - how much do hostels charge?
There are a number of homeless hostels around the city and none of them demand or require rent or other charges in advance. Rent and property related service charges are eligible for Housing Benefit i.e. if a person is in receipt of or eligible for welfare benefits, then rent and property service charges will be covered by Housing benefit. Hostels will charge a personal charge, which is around £10 per week and covers utility costs for heat and light in their own room or flat, or if they have meals provided, etc. People are not asked for this money in advance. All hostels are flexible and will work out a budgeting plan so no one is under duress to pay upfront.
People who are sleeping rough can’t claim benefits
People can claim benefits (if they are entitled to them) as The Whitechapel Centre can be used as a Care Of address. We help people to make claims and have a specialist Welfare Rights Advisor for the more complex claims. We offer free access to phone calls, computers and Wifi in our centre so people can follow up their claims.
The benefits system does require people to sign-on regularly to maintain their benefit claim. Some people find this very difficult to maintain due to their chaotic lifestyle and may be faced with sanctions.
There are some people who are not eligible to claim benefits or have no recourse to public funds.
How can I make a donation to The Whitechapel Centre?
There are many ways to donate to us – financial donations ensure that we can continue to provide our services every day of the year. You can donate items that help us deliver the work of the centre e.g. food, clothes and toiletries. And you can also get involved by participating in or organising a fundraising event, encouraging your company to support us or leaving a gift in your Will. Visit our What You Can Do pages for more information.
I have just spoken to someone who is at the bottom of the waiting list and has to sleep on the street until he gets to the top.
We aim to ensure that anyone who arrives on the street today has a solution today. This may involve access to supported accommodation, returning to a former accommodation or reconnection to a previous location. No one has to leave us until a solution is found. Everyone we work with is assessed on their first visit to us and the options available to them are explained. Sometimes a person may lose the accommodation we find. If this happens we work with the person to find new accommodation. Sometimes a person may only accept / want a specific type of accommodation and may not be willing to consider other options which are available.
Beds / flats are allocated on a priority needs basis, and we need to work within the priorities agreed by each local authority and landlord. However, if someone is arriving on the streets for the first time, the person will stay with us in our Sit-up Service, preventing them from having to be on the streets until a solution is found.
How do I feedback any comments about The Whitechapel Centre or make a complaint?
The Whitechapel Centre welcomes feedback from partner agencies, carers and users of our services about the support and services that we provide. You can feedback any comments by email. We have a formal complaints procedure. Please contact us on 0151 207 7617 should you require assistance with using the procedure.
I would like more information about homelessness
For the latest on numbers of homeless people, please look at the Communities and Local Government publications on homelessness figures at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/homelessness-data-notes-and-definitions /