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As winter approaches, homeless people and rough sleepers in Liverpool face plummeting temperatures on the city streets.
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.
Founder of the charity, Michelle told Jay and Simmo: “We go out each week and we make sure that the homeless are okay. We do outreach work, giving out food, hot drinks and advice and a listening ear. The most important part of what we do is signposting people towards shelter. Obviously it’s getting a lot colder now and we don’t want people to be sleeping on the streets when there’s shelter available.”
Michelle and the Paper Cup Project volunteers know the harsh reality of life on the streets after 4 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.
A brand new LCR Homelessness Business Charter launched this week. The aim is to identify how local business can help tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. Initiatives such as apprenticeships for homeless people and widening the access for jobs for those in a marginalised position – things we often take for granted. Michelle explained: “If you’ve been homeless for a while it’s very difficult to get back into work.
“As well as all your problems, the mental health issues, possible addictions, that kind of thing, once you’ve sorted all of those things out, how do you begin to think about going for a job interview?”
The charter also aims to help reconnect people with their communities and families through targeted support. You can find out more about the LCR Homelessness Business charter here.
The number of homeless people sleeping rough on the city streets is a real cause for concern. Michelle said: “I think it gets worse every year. We’ve got to deal with social issues that are making people homeless, such as benefits sanctions.”
Over the years, Michelle has met many people and heard stories of people from all walks of life who have ended up sleeping rough. Here, she gives her advice on how we can all make the winter months more bearable for those without a place to call home.
Michelle said: “Do what feels right for you. Stop and ask people what they want, it might be a hot drink, a sandwich it could even be food for their dog or sanitary protection for women. Saying hello, asking if they’re alright makes a difference.”
“We get offered a lot of help at Christmas. When we really need it is January, February, March which are the coldest months. Last year we lost two of our homeless friends in January, it’s such a bad month.
Paper Cup Project is now a charity. Head to the Facebook page here to make your donation which will go towards continuing support, hot meals, drinks, clothing and personal items for the homeless community facing a bitterly cold winter on the streets of Liverpool.
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