Liverpool homelessness project celebrates first year
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
A scheme to get homeless people in Liverpool into jobs and training is celebrating a year of achievements.
Over the past 12 months, the Shaw Street Project has helped 20 vulnerable people in Liverpool back onto their feet so they can move into their own home
The project, which is run by Riverside ECHG, has helped people like Leon Herbert, who was placed in care when he was three-years-old.
Leon, 18, became homeless as a teenager after his flat was repossessed.
He said: "I was in a first-stage hostel but it was terrible – I didn’t feel safe and there was nothing to do.
"I love it here at Shaw Street. I get bored easily so I like to keep busy. I do the art class and I’m in charge of the library here, sorting the books and DVDs, lending them out and making sure they come back.
"Shaw Street has given me a lot of support and is helping me to grow up. I know I’ve made some wrong choices in life but you learn from your mistakes. I would love to stay here forever. I need a push to do things, and this place gives me the push I need."
Riverside spent £1.5 million over two years refurbishing the Grade II listed Georgian building in Everton before launching the service at the end of 2011.
Shaw Street provides supported accommodation for men and women aged 16-65 for up to a year. It is the only such homeless scheme in Liverpool, where people can move to from an initial first-stage hostel to prepare themselves for living independently.
Facilities include a fully-equipped IT suite, a training room, a bistro-style cafe area and a professional catering kitchen.
There are 20 furnished self-contained flats, and the project is staffed 24-hours-a-day to maintain a safe, supported environment for residents.
The garden is a well-used social area during the warmer months, where barbecues and other events have been held.
Residents have now started growing vegetables in a dedicated area of the project's garden, which they plan to use during their regular cookery sessions held in the scheme kitchen.
Alongside the scheme’s other training courses, Shaw Street has just launched a creative media class where residents make videos about their life experiences and learn skills to help boost their employability.
Ryan Foster, 19, from Toxteth, came to Shaw Street in October 2012.
He said: "I was the eldest of nine children and it was hard for my mom, having so many of us to look after. It was tough and, as the eldest, I didn’t get that much attention.
"I just felt I needed to get out and go my own way in the world. I ended up homeless and spent about four months ‘sofa surfing’, staying with friends or relatives.
"Then I heard about Shaw Street and managed to get a place here. It is amazing – it is like a proper home and you don’t have to worry about anything. It is the Hilton of hostels.
"You feel safe and secure here, and you get support with everything – like help sorting out your rent and help with budgeting.
"I use the IT suite, which is great, and I play table tennis here. I also take part in the art class – I love it and it keeps me occupied. I’m a goalkeeper with two local football teams for homeless people, and I’m studying maths and English part-time at a local college.
"I want to go on and do my A-levels, so I can study maths at university – that’s what I’m working towards. If that doesn’t happen, I’d like to join the fire service and do something worthwhile, helping other people.
"Shaw Street is brilliant and it’s doing a good job. It helps support you to become more independent and stand on your own two feet, preparing you for living on your own."
Riverside’s Team Leader at Shaw Street, Julie McInnes, says people can become homeless for a host of reasons, including family breakdown, abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues or drug and alcohol problems.
She said: "I have really enjoyed this last year – I am proud of what we have achieved and how much our residents have achieved in getting the outcomes they are looking for.
"We will be developing this project further this year, with new initiatives and activities. Our residents give us a lot of ideas about what we can do here and how we can help them.
"Our residents really are inspirational – they each have their own story to tell but they have done so well in a relatively short time, and that is what this place is all about."