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Hundreds hunker down in churchyard in support of city's rough sleepers

Jun 03, 2023

The Liverpool Sleepout has raised thousands of pounds for the Whitechapel Centre over the years

Hundreds of people will bundle up in cosy coats and sleeping bags and hunker down for a night on the streets as they catch just a small glimpse into the lives of Liverpool's rough sleepers.

The Whitechapel Centre's Liverpool Sleepout returns to the St James in the City churchyard, Toxteth, on September 29. Now in its ninth year, the annual event raises funds for the charity, which provides daily services for the homeless community, housing and benefit advice and health support.

Whitechapel fund-raiser Toni-Marie Murphy-Roberts said: "It replicates what we are trying to stop. We are a homelessness and housing charity, and this gives people insight into how it feels to give up your bed for one night, and with that they raise money for the cause, raise awareness for the cause, and every penny goes to those who are sleeping rough on the streets for more than one night.

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"You can only imagine how frightening it is, and that's where we interject. We try and reach as many rough sleepers as we can, and our helpline is always open. Living in the 21st century, nobody should be homeless. We're a local charity helping local people get back on their feet. We cover the whole Liverpool city region now, not just the city centre. Our service has spread further because it's had to, and we want to support as many people as possible.

"Last year we supported nearly 4,000 people, not all rough sleepers. Some rough sleepers, some facing homelessness, some who had been evicted or were about to lose their homes."

The Liverpool Sleepout has raised thousands of pounds for the Whitechapel Centre over the years, with last year's event bringing more than 100 people to the streets.

Toni-Marie said: "People brought cardboard boxes, sleeping bags, tents. They all came, pitched up their shelters, and we had live entertainment through the night, and talked to them about the Whitechapel Centre. Around 11pm most of them went back to their shelters for the night. What we always say is, if it's not raining it's always a plus. We tell people to bring layers on layers on layers.

"Merseyside Fire and Rescue service came out in the night to support us, and they brought blankets, hats, scarves, gloves and hot water bottles."

People who want to take part in the Whitechapel Centre's Liverpool Sleepout can sign up online. Registration costs £10 and all attendees, who must be aged 18 or above, are asked to raise sponsorship for the charity.

The Whitechapel Centre’s outreach teams cover the city region and can be reached on the Always Help Available 24-hour phone line, 0300 123 2041.

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