Liverpool City Council - Retail Matters Week.
Liverpool City Council invests approximately £11m annually into services to prevent and address homelessness. The majority of people at risk of homelessness in the city do not spend any time sleeping rough; the most visible element of homelessness. It can cause the most concern with the public.
Therefore, the Council and partners sought to devise a campaign with simple messaging to communicate the availability of services for rough sleepers in Liverpool.
The campaign is Always Room Inside (ARI) and aims to demonstrate that there is no reason for anyone to sleep rough in Liverpool as there is always a solution to help them. It aims to highlight to everyone: rough sleepers, agencies, services, volunteers, members of the public, shops, pubs, bars, restaurants and local business about the range of services that Liverpool has in place for rough sleepers and what anyone can do to help.
The campaign used a wide range of media and marketing techniques to promote the message including: posters, flyers, city centre multi-media digital screens, bar-packs, bus advertising, websites and social media. The Council also targeted its own staff through Mayoral Briefings, payslips etc.
Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Police, Liverpool Business Improvement District, Whitechapel Centre, City Centre Joint Agency Group (CCJAG).
Outcome of campaign:
Liverpool, like many other cities in the country has seen an increase in rough sleeping and other street based activity e.g. begging in and around Liverpool city centre. Liverpool City Council received numerous queries from residents, visitors to the city, businesses, agencies and other stakeholders about what we and our partners are doing to address homelessness, rough sleeping and other associated issues. Feedback from the public indicated that there was an assumption that people sleep rough or beg because there is no alternative, or because there is a lack of services to support them - this is not the case.
Liverpool has a positive and proactive response to rough sleeping. However, previous campaigns were not fully effective in explaining to the public in a clear way the availability of services for rough sleepers, the ‘myths’ surrounding them and how to access them.
Always Room Inside was seen to be a clear and powerful statement of Liverpool’s approach – no one rough sleeping will be turned away and there is a solution for everyone.
Under the Always Room Inside headline is a range of specific services to help rough sleepers:
- The Urban Outreach and Response Service (UORS) delivered by a specialist homeless charity, the Whitechapel Centre. UORS delivers proactive street based outreach to work with individuals where they are, on the street, to help and assist them into accommodation or other support services.
- a dedicated enablement day centre with showers, toilets, clean clothing, food, drinks, a range of activities and training opportunities, welfare benefits advice and links to specialist primary care medical services, mental health and addictions workers.
- Labre House a night hub providing a safe supported space for rough sleepers while they are accessing longer term solutions (see below)
These are also complemented by over 700 units of temporary accommodation, substance misuse services and a strong voluntary sector/volunteering response.
The campaign also focussed on what the public could do if they were concerned about someone rough sleeping i.e. contact the Always Room Inside helpline which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Alternatively, they can use an on-line reporting tool.
One of the key actions that emerged from the ARI and the focus on reducing rough sleeping was the development of Labre House in November 2017. This is a dedicated Night Hub for people who are rough sleeping in Liverpool. It offers real help and support to assist people who may have a range of needs and complex issues, which have led to them sleeping rough. Opening Labre House had an immediate and positive impact on rough sleeping in the city; with fewer people being seen out overnight.
The ARI campaign also sought to highlight to the public and stakeholders about the complexity of homelessness, rough sleeping and begging. It was important to stress that not everyone who begs is also rough sleeping and not everyone rough sleeping will beg. The Council highlighted several press releases around the numbers of people helped to come indoors each month and some of the complex reasons why people might still be rough sleeping. The key message being that: the City’s commitment means no one needs to beg or sleep rough in the city; there is always a solution to help them.
As part of the ARI approach – the Council and partners recognised that we needed a specific response for people who are begging. Therefore, in July 2018, we launched a new pilot project - the Street Lifestyles Team. This will see a range of partners including additional outreach support, an addictions worker, dedicated support from Merseyside Police and additional street cleansing, coming together to offer an enhanced response to people who may be begging or insecurely housed, so addressing some of the issues for them as well as the wider environmental impact.
- Increased stakeholder, business and public awareness of the availability of services for rough sleepers
- Increased understanding of the scale, nature and complexity of rough sleeping/street based lifestyles across Council and partners
- Busting some of the popular ‘myths’ around services e.g. hostels will not take dogs
- Simplified pathways for rough sleepers under the ARI approach
- Each month on average, almost 40 people who have been rough sleeping are brought indoors
- Approximately 300 calls to the ARI helpline over a 10 month period – which resulted in over 170 visits from outreach workers
- 50-60 people who would be rough sleeping access Labre House each night
- Access to Labre House for people with No Recourse to Public Funds who would have previously been rough sleeping
- New Street Lifestyles Service is engaging with 18 people with entrenched lifestyles relating to begging
Always Room Inside will now be an ongoing campaign and central feature of the Council’s communication strategy relating to homelessness, and particularly rough sleeping.
We will continue to develop a programme of Public Relations activity that will result in frequent media releases. This includes maximising opportunities that arise from changes in weather, new funding announcements, new initiatives and progress/outreach reports.
We will continue to tweet key messages about Always Room Inside in terms of signposting to the service and we have recently completed two case study videos with service users. We feel the personal narratives of people who have been through services will be very powerful in conveying messages to the public.
Finally, we are keen to explore ways of engaging with the public on the issue of giving money to people who are begging.
We will continue to develop our services for rough sleepers, alongside the ARI campaign. This will include evaluating the outcomes of the Street Lifestyles Pilot as a multi-disciplinary approach to supporting people who are begging.
But this is just the start, Liverpool has exciting plans to invest in developing a new-build purpose built service for Labre House users that will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It will offer access to support, links to permanent and temporary accommodation, alongside mental health and addictions services, education, employment and training opportunities and welfare benefits advice to help people to transform their lives.