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The Paper Cup Project is a group of volunteers who are supported by a number of local businesses to provide food, clothing and a friendly listening ear to the city’s growing homeless community. Spear headed by Michelle Langan, the not-for-profit charity relies on the kindness of others to be able to offer a hot meal, clean, warm clothes and sometimes just a smile or a hug, to those most in need.
Michelle and the Paper Cup Project volunteers know the harsh reality of life on the streets after 3 years of helping and getting to know the community. Offering some respite from the harsh winter conditions, Labre House, which began as a cold weather shelter from Liverpool City Council is now open all year round and works in conjunction with the Whitechapel Centre. For some, a night spent inside is a bonus, but it doesn’t and wont change their long term circumstances.
Today is a sad day. A sad day for Liverpool. It’s 2019 and we have people dying on our streets. Yesterday, a thirty year old woman was found dead in a tent in our city. How did this become normal? How did seeing homeless people on the streets every single day become a normal occurrence? It should never be normal.
The young woman had a name – her name was Aimee. She could have been any of us. In 2019 it’s so easy to end up on the streets. Our volunteer group, The Papercup Project, see so many people from so many different backgrounds in tents and doorways across Liverpool.
We knew Aimee, we saw her on Monday night. We laughed and chatted with her. She hugged me and I told her to take care of herself. If I had known it was the last time I would ever have seen her, I would have done more. Hugged her a bit longer. Spoken to her a bit longer. Given her more food, more clothes. Told her she was loved by people. (She was.)
We can all do more. We have a great facility in Liverpool, Labre House, which offers shelter to anyone in the city who needs it. What we need more of is the support. Money has been slashed across the services that are most needed – addiction services, mental health support. To help someone is not as simple as offering a house. They also need an arm around them and guidance, and often very intensive support to tackle their problems.
So what do we do as a city? We carry on. We carry on helping, and supporting people who need it and we carry on fighting so that the people who need the most help get it – tackle the politicians, tackle the people who make the decisions. Let’s say no more – no more people dying on our streets. Her name was Aimee. remember her.
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