As I enter The Whitechapel Centre on Langsdale Street I am suddenly immersed in to a regular Monday morning routine of buzzing activity. Although according to, Julianna Petkovic, Corporate Fundraiser, there is no regular day at the Whitechapel as ‘things are always different and a little chaotic’, one of the reasons why the staff enjoy working there – ‘because literally no two days are the same’.
The centre is open every day from 8am starting off with a hot breakfast, generally serving around 75 meals, but with colder, winter nights settling in the number has already risen to 100 service users. The day doesn’t slow down after breakfast as the staff then prepare for drop-in sessions for housing and welfare advice and regular visits from chemists, doctors and a sexual health advisor.
In addition to this, the centre also offer weekly activity sessions, which can be anything from bingo to creative writing, drama, photography or arts and crafts with a focus on providing a place for the clients to learn new skills and boost their self confidence.
Labre House Night Shelter on Camden Street, ran by The Whitechapel Centre, offers shelter and runs from 8pm – 8am, providing those in need of a full 24 hour service. The amount of service users that utilise the centre regularly varies, but averages from 70 -150 throughout the night.
“We would never turn anyone away as we believe that everyone has a right to a home and we work really hard to ensure that that happens,” she continued.
A five pound donation pays for 10 rough sleepers to have breakfast, but monetary donations go towards a range of offerings, including reconnecting clients with family members and are also essential in addressing urgent situations. For example, one service user who was on the homeless football team was offered a referee position, on the condition that he could obtain studded football boots, so the extra funding allowed for these to be purchased, and ultimately him procuring the position.
Money is only one way of supporting the Whitechapel, as they also welcome food and clothing donations:
“One of the easiest ways to help is to go through your wardrobe and see what you’re not wearing anymore and make a donation of clothing to us.”
Another way of assisting is fundraising which is always appreciated by the charity, whether it be cake sales, participating in the Liverpool Sleepout, or a bespoke event like ‘Life is a Cabaret’ which was held on Saturday 9th November 2019 at St. Paul’s Social.
The cabaret themed night showcased a range of local talent including: Nana Funk who compared the entire evening, Vocalists Bend and Snap and Charlie Ekins, and a burlesque performance from Regina Sin.
Jayne Dillon, General Manager of St. Paul’s Social said: “Supporting our local homeless community is something that is close to our hearts. By offering our venue to The Whitechapel Centre, this created an opportunity to welcome people of all walks of life to come together to raise vital funds for such a worthy charity.”
Julianna commented: “It was a great night, as were the acts, all of whom were absolutely brilliant and so talented. Everyone at Avenue HQ was fabulous and we can’t thank them enough for organising this fundraiser and raising awareness of homelessness and the services The Whitechapel Centre offer.”
She added: “I am extremely delighted to announce that altogether, including ticket sales, the raffle, bingo that we raised £489.42. I am absolutely blown away especially with how generous people were and how well the night went. I am overjoyed. The money raised could go towards Centre running costs, enabling us to deliver our services, or it could pay for a private sector bond to help someone who is ready to live independently, find a privately rented, safe and secure home.”
Currently 80 volunteers give their time to the multiple sites but they are always on the lookout for volunteers, whether it be to assist in one of the shops in Waterloo, Allerton Road, or the centres themselves.
Avenue HQ and Your Local Social support The Whitechapel Centre throughout the year, across Liverpool sites. If you would like to volunteer or donate, you can get in touch via their website: https://www.whitechapelcentre.co.uk