Gaskells and Whitechapel launch campaign to keep rough sleepers safe

Bootle waste management firm and Liverpool homelessness charity aiming to highlight the deadly dangers of sleeping in commercial bins. Tony McDonough reports

Gaskells driver Sam and Julianna Petkovic from Whitechapel


Mersey waste management firm Gaskells is once again joining forces with Liverpool homelessness charity The Whitechapel Centre to highlight the dangers of people sleeping in large bins.

Over the past few years, Bootle-based Gaskells says there has been a number of fatalities due to rough sleepers seeking refuge in commercial bins. The firm itself has not seen an deaths in its bins but adds it is a recognised issue across the waste industry.

All Gaskells’ drivers are fully trained to check the bins before they’re emptied and all its trucks are equipped with emergency stop activation technology and cameras, so the drivers can see exactly what’s going into the back of the trucks.

The firm’s containers are adorned with stickers warning of the dangers of sleeping in bins, along with contact details for The Whitechapel Centre.

Julianna Petkovic from the centre joined one of the Gaskells drivers, Sam, on his early morning Liverpool route. She got a closer look at how the machinery in the back of the truck works to compress all the waste, to demonstrate what would happen should anyone end up in the back after sleeping in a bin.

In the words of Sam, “you wouldn’t be getting out of there, at the very best, you’d have serious crush injuries, at the very worst, you’d be dead”.

Within minutes of the Gaskells truck arriving in the city centre, Julianna and Sam saw the first rough sleeper, a woman on the steps of the Empire Theatre. A quick call from Julianna to The Whitechapel Centre’s dedicated phone line will ensure the outreach workers know, so can make their way there.

Minutes after that, more people spotted sleeping in doorways, and a tent outside Burger King on Church Street. Cue more calls to the Whitechapel Centre’s outreach workers phone line, which is manned 24 hours a day.

Back of a Gaskells waste vehicle


This year, the campaign’s taking a double pronged approach, as along with the dangers of sleeping in bins, the charity wants more people to be saving the number into their phones and making that call.

The number is 0300 123 2041, and it takes less than 20 seconds to make the call. It goes direct to The Whitechapel Centre’s outreach team and could save a life. The number features on the side of Gaskells main truck on the Liverpool route, to raise awareness and in the hope people will see it and save the number into their phones. 

Julianna said “Being out on the bin truck from 6am, I saw for myself the increasing number of people sleeping on Liverpool’s  streets, and made at least six calls in one hour. All you need to do is call 0300 123 2041, tell us where you’ve seen the rough sleeper and what their condition is.

“Our outreach team will then engage with them and try and encourage them to use our services. We really need to know about people sleeping rough, and would rather have five calls about one person, than no calls about anyone. It’s really simple to make the call, it takes less than 20 seconds, and it could save someone’s life.”

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