As the weather gets colder and the cost of living increases, more people across the country are facing a difficult winter.
But, while some are facing the prospect of a winter without heating, others will be spending the coldest season without a roof over their heads.
Charlotte Patterson, Corinne Ciuraj and Jessica Healey have dedicated much of their time to supporting rough sleepers and those facing poverty across the city, but have decided to take their efforts a step further and experience the hardships themselves.
This Wednesday, the women will spend 24 hours on the streets, raising money for Sunday Supper Project, Fans Supporting Foodbanks and Home Is Where The Heart Is.
About the project
Jessica Healey set up Sunday Supper Project at the end of December 2019, when she was a student in Liverpool. Cooking food in her uni kitchen, Jess aimed to give as many hot meals to people on the streets as she could.
Charlotte and Corinne began volunteering with her around two years ago and now, alongside a group of volunteers, they provide hot food, tea and coffee to rough sleepers every Wednesday. The group spend the evening each week on Church Street, providing not only food but also support and friendship to those who need it.
Charlotte has also taken part in two group sleep outs at Goodison Park, sleeping on the Park End concrete an raising money for the ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ branch of Everton in the Community. Funds have been used to purchase a house near Goodison Park, for young adults who are without one.
Home Is Where The Heart Is also help young rough sleepers find jobs and open bank accounts, and alongside Fans Supporting Foodbanks, have been an inspiration to Charlotte, an avid Everton fan.
What will the sleep out involve?
The trio will spend from 9am on Wednesday November 9 to 9am the following day on the streets, with just a £3 spending allowance per person. Sharing regular social media updates and filming a video blog, they will document their experiences and speak to homeless people in the city to learn more about their day to day lives.
LiverpoolWorld spoke to Charlotte, a local master’s student and volunteer at The Whitechapel Centre. She said: “We basically want to step into a homeless person’s shoes for the day, so it will involve just the day-to-day aspects of being on the streets.
“We will also be chatting with other homeless people and seeing what they are getting up to, where they go to keep dry, warm or eat/drink. We’ve decided to do it because of the influx of homeless people we have noticed since the pandemic and it will only be getting worse now there is a massive cost of living crisis. We want to spread awareness of what people are going through and how this should not be happening in this country.”
Charlotte also shared the reason for their £3 spending allowance, explaining: “I have spoken to a few people who are on the streets about how much they spend each day, it obviously varies from day to day or is dependent on if they get donations etc. But, the consensus was around £3, we want to make sure when we are stepping into their shoes we do it the closest way possible.”
How will they keep safe?
Charlotte, 30, Corinne, 26, and Jess, 23, will be wearing high-vis jackets along with cardboard posters, to make people aware that they are taking part in an awareness project. However, one of their regular friends who visits the Sunday Supper Project each week has said that he will keep them safe and get his friends around the city to keep an eye on them.
They will also be able to get hot food and drink from the Sunday Supper Project, experiencing the difference a free hot meal can make on a cold night.
Charlotte said: “The girls and I are nervous about the weather conditions, safety and the unknown of how it will be once it goes dark, but we are only doing this for 24 hours - this is nothing like some people go through day-to-day.
“We all have a home to go back to once this is over, a shower to warm up in and a kitchen to cook food in. As much as it will be a struggle, we will never physically be able to step into a homeless person’s shoes or understand exactly what they go through but we want to try our best and be a voice for the most vulnerable and do anything we can to make their situation just even slightly better.
“Homelessness along with food/heating poverty should not even be a thing in this country. Poverty-stricken people should not be ashamed of being in the position they are in, we as a country should be ashamed.”
How will the money raised be used?
The three girls are asking for donations on Just Giving and all contributions will be split between Sunday Supper Project, Fans Supporting Foodbanks and Home Is Where The Heart Is.
So far, they have received over £2100, almost hitting their goal of £2500.
Charlotte explained: “For Sunday Supper Project, the funds will go directly to buying essentials for winter, providing more hot food and anything extra that is needed each week. At the moment, due to it being donations based only, it’s mainly the volunteers who pay for everything, and extra help is needed during this cost of living crisis.
“For Fans Supporting Foodbanks, it will go directly to them to buy the necessities they believe are needed, mainly tinned food, fresh ingredients etc. This will help anyone who is struggling either on the streets, in B&Bs or families who can’t afford to eat.
“The money will help Home Is Where The Heart Is towards their new housing complexes or providing training to the young homeless of this great city.”
Charlotte will also be taking part in her third sleepout at Goodison Park on November 18.