Liverpool Bands Play To Help The Homeless

Liverpool bands Cast and The Farm are to play a fundraising gig for the homelessness charity Crisis.

The show, at the O2 Academy in Leeds on September the 18th, will kick-start a nationwide campaign, called Musicians Against Homelessness, that is being organised by former Oasis manager Alan McGee. As well as highlighting the issue of homelessness and raising cash, the show will provide an opportunity for new bands.

Cast singer John Power said: “Once you slip beneath the radar, it’s so hard to regain a foothold and so easy to find yourself living rough and becoming another anonymous casualty sleeping on the streets. It’s a massive modern problem and one we can’t just step over and ignore.”

“That is why we’re supporting Crisis, to try and highlight the issue through music and try and raise awareness about the situation. Maybe it’s time for us to think about how this government is dismantling the safety net of the welfare system through cuts, and ask them to address the skyrocketing rents people are being asked to pay. They should also address the lack of affordable homes on offer to people.”

“All of us need to question the stereotypical images we have of people on the streets. Falling on hard times or having a particular run of bad luck is something that could happen to anyone. And if you ain’t got any support when it hits you, you too could find yourself one rung of the ladder away from being homeless and living on the streets. Just a thought.”

Ed Tait, director of fundraising for Crisis, said: “The support of Musicians Against Homelessness comes at an important time. Homelessness is devastating, leaving people vulnerable and isolated. With rough sleeping rising steeply across England, unfortunately our services are all the more important.”

Local Law Firm Supports Homeless Charity

Staff at local law firm Brabners voted to nominate Crisis as their chosen charity for 2016, as part of their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Although Brabners has a dedicated charity committee to organise fundraising events over the coming year, the task actually began before Christmas when staff raised more than £3,550 to support the Crisis at Christmas campaign.

Events already scheduled include the Charity Challenge, an action-packed weekend of canoeing, cycling and hill climbing in the Lake District, where teams from different companies across the North West compete to finish the course in the fastest time.

There is also the return of ‘The Big Idea’, an apprentice-style contest involving one team from each of the firm’s offices competing against each other to raise money for the charity. Staff will also be encouraged to volunteer and participate in charity collections and events.

Mark Brandwood, managing partner at Brabners, told The Liverpool Echo: “Our CSR programme is thriving – all at Brabners are very keen to support charitable endeavours. We are looking forward to getting involved in a wide range of volunteering and fundraising activities to raise both money and the profile of the charity across the region.”

Kate Farrell, director of Crisis Skylight Merseyside, said: “We would like to thank everyone at Brabners for their generous support and we look forward to working with them throughout the year.”

Liverpool councilor says don’t give money to homeless people

A Liverpool councilor has said that if you want to help homeless people you shouldn’t give them money. Councillor Frank Hont advises instead of giving money directly to beggars in the street your money will have a greater impact if you donate to a recognised charity.

Cllr Hont said: “When they [people] see somebody who appears to be in dire straits the inclination of many people is to put their hands in their pockets and give them some money.

“While this is very well-intentioned it is not the best way to help those who are on the streets – supporting those services which can help people turn their lives around and provide lasting support is a much better way to help and this new campaign will encourage people to do that.”

Liverpool council has launched a new campaign to tackle homelessness. Change£? will work with The Whitechapel Centre and The Liverpool BID Company to help improve the city’s homeless services.

The campaign seeks to tackle the misconception that everyone begging or sleeping rough is homeless and the thinking that everyone homeless has to sleep rough. It also aims to work in partnership with the public to achieve a longer term greater good for the individual.

David Carter, chief executive of The Whitechapel Centre, said: “We’re seeing a continued rise in the number of people that come through our doors, so we’re grateful for all the support we can get. It’s important that everyone knows that we’re here, and that there’s no reason people should have to sleep on the streets so long as our doors continue to remain always open.”

The charity says for £3 it can provide six hot nutritious breakfasts for people sleeping on the streets.

The council says it plans to accommodate up to 700 people in the future. Anyone concerned about someone sleeping rough can call No Second Night Out on 0300 123 2041.

A kind gesture changes a homeless man’s life

A South African businessman’s kind gesture has led to another man’s life being changed in the space of just a few days.

Entrepreneur Jay Margolis spotted a homeless man cleaning Bantry Bay Beach near Cape Town last week. Siyabulela Magobiyane, or ‘Dan’ as he’s more commonly known, regularly cleaned the beach because he wanted it to look good for tourists. But after Margolis mentioned his encounter with Magobiyane in a Facebook post, which was eventually shared more than 37,000 times, he says Magobiyane has since been offered a job.

“Since we met, Dan has been placed permanently at the Haven Night Shelter in Greenpoint. He’ll be there for three to six months. They’re helping him to transition from life on the street to a more active role. He has also been offered a permanent job with a company called Cape Skip. They’re very committed to upskilling him.”

Mr. Margolis’ post on Facebook read: “So this afternoon I was in Bantry Bay waiting for a client to arrive and I see this chap putting two big bags into the rubbish bin. 15 minutes later, he arrives with another two big bags of rubbish and put them in the bin…

When I come back, 45 minutes later, I see him filling another two big packets and wait for him to have a chat. Turns out, “he’s embarrassed about the pollution, and wants the beaches looking good for the tourists, and for the sea” he told me.

He hasn’t been asked to do this, and doesn’t have a job. He goes on to tell me that he cleans the beaches every day, and for no reason other than he wants to “make the place nice”, and then with massive pride, pulls out his temp ID, to show me his name. He goes on to tell me that he got this, but still has to collect his Green ID book. Bought him lunch and left feeling so proud of people like this that live in our beautiful country. 
What a legend, Siyabulela Dan Magobiyane! City of Cape Town, give this man a job!”

Decision Deferred On Housing Benefit Cap

The Government has announced that it will put a 12-month delay on its proposals to bring supported housing rents in line with Local Housing Allowance.

Over the past few months concern has been growing in the homelessness sector over the Government’s plans to cap supported housing rents to bring them in line with Local Housing Allowance. It was feared that these caps would have that meant that many homelessness services could face a reduction of income of up to two-thirds, leaving some with no option but to close.

However, last week the Government announced that the proposed reduction would be deferred for twelve months to allow an impact assessment to be carried out. But this is merely a postponement, not a cancellation, of the plans. The reductions in Housing Benefit are still due to come in from April 2018. They will only apply to new tenancies starting after April 2017 rather than a month from now as originally planned.

Last month the Government announced a year-long exception for all supported housing from its proposed 1% reduction on social housing rents. With regard to the LHA reduction, last week a Government spokesperson said: “In the Autumn Statement 2015, we announced that when assessing eligibility for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit that Local Housing Allowance rates would be applied to all social rents from April 2018, where tenants had signed new or re-let tenancies from 1 April 2016.”

“I am able to announce today that the Government will put in place a year-long exception for all tenants of supported accommodation in the social sector so that this measure will only apply to these tenancies from April 2017, rather than April 2016. As examples, this will include refuges for those fleeing domestic abuse, homeless provision, housing for ex-offenders, as well as supported housing for older and disabled people.”

Even though the decision will be put off for 12 months many homelessness organisations will find themselves stuck in limbo, unable to commit to future projects until there is more certainty about their future rental income.

So, watch this space!

Homeless Man Rescues Damsel In Distress

A young woman who was rescued by a homeless man after missing her last train home has said she will “never look down at homeless people again”.

Nicole Sedgebeer’s story has gone viral on Facebook and been picked up by several national newspapers.

Nicole, who was in London for a night out on Thursday, said she nearly burst into tears when she had nowhere to go after missing her train from Euston Station to Milton Keynes. The next train did not leave until the following morning and the station doors were locked, leaving her out in the cold on the street.

Nicole wrote on Facebook: “I hope this story makes people look twice when they see a homeless person.

Last night I missed my last train home and when I finally got to Euston to wait till the morning, the station was locked. Just as I was about to burst into drunken tears I met my homeless friend Mark. He said he would take me to a cafe that was open as it was too dangerous to walk by myself. He left me after a coffee and a chat and explained that he had to go get his sleeping bag but he would be back at 5 to walk me back to the station. (Me being a typical bitch didn’t believe he would come back).

It got past 5 and he was a no show. As I got round the corner my homeless friend Mark was running down the street towards me. Not only did he turn up but he had to get a bus to come get me. This man who I probably would of avoided eye contact with if he asked for spare change, completely changed such a negative event into the most eye-opening event in my life.

Mark you are one special man, I will never look down on a homeless person again <3

This was also his first ever selfie!”

When asked why she thinks Mark was so helpful, Nicole answered: ‘When I asked him why he did it he said it was a father’s duty to get another man’s daughter home safe,

Good man, Mark. Who said chivalry was dead!

Come And Have A Dig In The Bosco Garden!

gardenWith Spring just around the corner now is the time to be thinking about digging over the soil and preparing the land for planting. And this is exactly what is happening at Bosco House.

But this is gardening with a difference, as project coordinator Alan Matthews explains: “In recent years there has been a significant upswing of interest in the therapeutic value of gardens that are specifically designed to address a variety of applications within healthcare, rehabilitation, and other therapeutic settings.”

“We aim to develop the gardens at Bosco House to enhance the health and wellbeing of our residents, our volunteers and staff, and those who have experienced substance misuse issues. We are going to provide learning opportunities for clients (growing and cooking their own food, marketing, selling produce, etc.), recreational activities for local volunteers, and therapeutic benefit to those with substance misuse issues.”

“The value in this project is not merely filling the time with meaningful activity but, as horticulture is governed by the seasons, using the forward planning necessary to run a garden helps the individual to focus on the future as part of their recovery journey. Moreover, given the opportunity to grow fruit and vegetables and market the produce will provide valuable learning, increase self-confidence, enhance life skills, and a pathway to employment.”

“We have discussed this initiative at our weekly resident’s meetings and Lifeline’s community development worker has consulted their clients; the idea has been enthusiastically received. We are also working in partnership with several other organisations, too, such as Hugh Baird College and The Brink, a ‘dry’ bar and restaurant ran by and for former substance misusers. Everyone can see the value of the project and are keen to be involved.”

Hugh Baird College is backing the project with a proposed one afternoon per week taster course that will earn participants a certificate of attendance.

So, if you fancy having a dig, give Alan a ring on 0151 944 1818.

Number Of Rough Sleeper Up By A Third Last Year

Over the past five years the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England has doubled, whilst in the past year the figure has gone up by a third. Recently released government figures reveal an estimated 3,569 people are sleeping on streets on any one night.

And even though these are national figures, the impact is being felt here in Sefton. Bosco manager, Sheila Howard, said: “Even though we’ve only been running the sit-up service since last July, we’ve noticed a greater uptake of the service recently. Just in the past few weeks our service has been full most nights.”

“This could be because of the recent cold weather, obviously, but it could also be that the service is getting more widely known amongst rough sleepers. You only have to look at the increase in people sleeping on the streets in Liverpool city centre during the day to see this.”

Neil Baynes, Managing Director at New Start, agrees: “We have seen an increase in numbers using our sit-up service in Southport. You would expect more people to turn up in the winter, but there is a general perception that the situation is getting worse.”

This was reflected in the comments of Jon Sparkes, CEO of Crisis. He told The Guardian: “There are practical and immediate measures the government can take to tackle rough sleeping and other forms of homelessness. With the average age of death for rough sleepers being just 47, they must act now.”

Worryingly, it is reported that 40% of rough sleepers in London suffer with mental health problems, and this rises to over half of when taken across the UK as a whole. Most rough sleepers with mental health problems are homeless for longer because they find it harder to access support. In 2014-15, 17 of the 25 people who died while sleeping rough on the streets of London, that were known to services, had mental health needs.

A report by St. Mungo’s, Stop The Scandal, notes that many specialist homelessness mental health teams have closed as a result of funding cuts. On average, local authority funding for services to help vulnerable people avoid homelessness was cut by 45% between 2010 and 2015.

With the Chancellor, George Osborne, threatening to make more cuts in his next budget, it seems things are unlikely to get better any time soon.

President Obama Committed To Tackling Homelessness

Here in England the government seems to be intent on hurting the most vulnerable, particularly the homeless, in our society. On the other side of the pond, however, US President Barrack Obama seems to have set off in the opposite direction by announcing a goal to “eliminate child and family homelessness by 2020.”

Writing in The Guardian, Mary O’Hara says that these are not just empty words. The President has put in a request to Congress to raise over $10bn in the coming fiscal year budget, specifically to help homeless families and children. The Homeless Assistance For Families proposal is seen as yet another sign that homelessness is being taken seriously at national level.

However, as with anything the President proposes, the success of this plan depends on whether Congress agrees to allocate the funds. Even though there hasn’t exactly been a cordial relationship between the White House and Congress, if the proposal does pass it could be life-changing for tens of thousands of destitute families.

Despite an overall reduction in homelessness over the past few years (down 10% since 2010) it is estimated that more than 64,000 families, including 130,000 children, are homeless on any one night in the USA.

But according to Nan Roman, chief executive of the National Alliance To End Homelessness, the proposal would “give communities exactly what they need to end homelessness for families with children once and for all.”

What is crucial about the president’s proposal, says Roman, is that the funds will be designated as “mandatory”, meaning the federal government would be responsible for allocating the money and the funding wouldn’t be subject to the vagaries of annual budget renegotiations. (In the UK this used to be known as ‘ring-fenced’ – a rare bird these days!)

As Mary O’Hara points out: “It wasn’t that long ago when campaigners in the US could look to Britain as a place committed to investing resources in reducing homelessness and hold it up as evidence of what works. Not any more.”

Bosco Walking Group Takes Great Strides

Bosco-Walking-GroupThe walking group at Boscop House has started up again after taking a break for a few months. So far the group has taken on three walks that have provided both a challenge and enjoyment for all involved.

One of the walkers, Stephen, said: “My experience on these walks has been exactly what I looked forward too; feeling alive and active with excitement. Going on adventures in new locations, persevering, being intuitive and brave finding new routes when we got stuck or lost or in doubt. Being part of a team/family and sharing these experiences together with friendly people from different backgrounds and ages. We are all enthusiastic and excited towards each adventure from my perspective.”

“The first walk was at Crosby beach up to Formby,” said Stephen. “It was a cloudy and very windy day, which made the day feel more like we were really out in the elements; sand hitting our faces and the waves crashing against the banks spraying water over parts of the walk. I personally enjoyed those parts too, because that’s what makes an authentic outdoors walk/adventure feel alive if that’s what you’re after.”

“Half way there we stopped at a local outdoors service and got chips and the best hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallow’s to top it off. The chips we had left over we threw to the birds, getting the seagulls to catch them in mid-air and a whole gang of small black birds came straight up to us almost close enough to feed from our hands.”

“Walking back was tough. I had never walked that distance in the boots I had that day and realised I needed to add soles to cushion my feet. I could barely walk in the end, but I persevered with the help of my friend and having a laugh on the walk back kept it fun. The good thing about these walks too is that you form bonds and memories with people.”

Another walker in the group, Vicky, said: “I really enjoyed our first walk. As a group we got the bus to Garston and walked back to Bosco House along the River Mersey. It was great to get to know staff and other residents away from the hostel environment. We all had a good laugh!”

“Even though we got drenched by cars splashing us with puddles of rain on dock road, we all felt a sense of achievement,” she added.

Stephen also commented about a walk along the Cheshire Lines: “This was a nine to ten mile walk, a bit more than our previous one. I was more prepared this time, added inner cushioning to the soles of my boots and an extra pair of footwear in my gym bag just in case.”

“The path was a bit more challenging this time because the mud was slippy on some of the paths, so the boots came in handy. We were walking through fields and trails, which was awesome. The scenery was great we had blue skies with white clouds and the vast open fields and distant woodlands were very visible. There were animals too, herds of sheep and some cows.”

“We eventually got to a bridge and the side we needed to be on had no path to get down. We found a small ledge to jump down and I was made up the others climbed down, because some people would stop in their tracks and they did it and it was one of those moments in an adventure were you feel like you’re doing what you got to do to get past an obstacle.”

“This always makes the adventure feel complete after moments like that. I had a great time anyway and it’s all been an awesome experience.”

Bosco support worker, James, said: “We started mid January and aim to improve health and to socialise and have a good laugh. We started with a nine mile Mersey River walk, which was followed by a Crosby walk to Burbo Bank, which was 8 1/2 miles. The latest walk was a Cheshire Lines walk in Lydiate.”

“It’s a great way to get fit and enjoy a group experience. There are more walks planned for the future and we’re all looking forward to getting outdoors again soon.”