Clarke & Co has identified existing properties across the North West, comprising 50 rooms, and is refurbishing them a high specification and will also provide ongoing support. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool specialist supported housing provider Clarke & Co is spearheading a £40m project to tackle homelessness across the North West.
Homelessness and rough sleeping has increased in most UK towns and cities over the past eight years as the Government’s austerity policies have pushed many people who were previously struggling to manage over the edge.
Research from housing charity Shelter reveals there are more than 10,600 people recorded as homeless across the North West. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 52 homeless deaths in Liverpool between 2013 and 2017.
Backed by a consortium of private investors, Clarke has identified existing properties across the North West, comprising 50 rooms, and is refurbishing them to a far higher specification than would normally be found in accommodation for homeless people.
Working hand-in-hand with local authorities, as well as Liverpool Homeless charity The Whitechapel Centre, the scheme will offer accommodation, personal development and training to people who are currently homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. A further 150 rooms are planned for the next few months.
Clarke will oversee day-to-day management of the properties as well as supporting the individual service users and, when necessary, signpost them to other support agencies.
The business will also work with developers to design properties that are equipped for the successful integration of service users back into society. Clarke says it aims to balance the needs of the services users with any sensitivities about the project that may be felt in the wider community.
There will also be a partnership with a leading Merseyside training provider, Training Strategies, to offer “individualised learning pathways” for each tenant.
These will comprise a personal development and training plan that will aim to enable people to take control of their lives. A longer term aim would be to arrange work placements with commercial partners.
Victoria Deakin from Training Strategies said: “We understand bringing vulnerable people to a point where they are ready to enter, or re-enter, the job market comes with challenges. But at Training Strategies we have the experience to manage that process and to help the service users take those small steps towards their goals.”
John Clarke from Clarke & Co said: “This is a project that will aim to make a real difference to the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.
“Homelessness has become an issue that no one can ignore any more. The number of people now sleeping rough on the streets of our towns and cities is shocking. Social degradation has been happening right before our eyes.
“Everyone recognises homelessness is a complex issue that goes way beyond just a roof over someone’s head. This project takes an entirely holistic approach, refurbishing properties to a high specification and then offering an entire support network to help people turn their lives around.”