More than 60 people have been taken off the streets or been re-housed from temporary night shelters as part of a massive effort to shield some of the borough's most vulnerable people from coronavirus.
Wirral Council joined with the area's three night shelters - Birkenhead YMCA, Wirral Ark and Rose Brae – with support from Forum Housing, to find new accommodation for more than 35 hostel residents. All of the hostel ‘night shelters’ have now been temporarily closed for overnight stays in response to the Government's directive that all night shelters close and enable social distancing.
Council commissioned outreach workers have also managed to place dozens of rough sleepers in accommodation that has been made available by local businesses, including more than 30 single occupancy apartments and 40 hotel rooms for single people and family groups.
Food parcels were provided for everyone who had been rough sleeping or leaving shelters to ensure they had something to eat when they entered their new accommodation.
Although the figure can fluctuate each night as individual circumstances change, 62 people have been accommodated over the past two weeks. The new provision and outreach support have resulted in a reduction in the number of people sleeping rough in the borough to just a single known individual. However, it is believed that some people are still coming onto the street to beg, so outreach workers are continuing their night-time rounds to speak to anyone found outside to encourage them to accept help.
A Wirral Council spokesperson said: “Recognising the urgent need to help protect some of our most vulnerable people, Wirral’s hostel and support providers responded magnificently, which enabled us to place people in appropriate accommodation and close all our night shelters ahead of the Government’s target.
“While we are clear that nobody needs to sleep rough, we know that very significant challenges lie ahead as demand continues to increase - often from people with complex needs - and as others come forward as they find themselves homeless in these difficult times. We would therefore urge anyone who can remain where they are to do so if possible, as this can often be the safest option for them.
“We are also asking local hotel operators to get in touch if they are able to provide short-term accommodation.”
Anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming so while the night shelters are closed should contact the Council’s Housing Options Service either by completing the online form or calling: 07713415983, 07712534941, 07770310894 or 07733012564.
If you are aware of someone rough sleeping, please contact the Rough Sleeper Initiative Service by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07821125119.