Signature Living’s owner announced this week that he will be opening a brand new shelter to provide for the Liverpool homeless on 10 October to “stop people dying on the streets”.
Lawrence Kenwright, who’s no stranger to tackling one of the UK’s most prominent crises, is offering the city’s most vulnerable inhabitants a unique and inclusive place to call home at a spacious new shelter on Cotton Street.
Introducing the Cotton Street Shelter
The converted warehouse is expected to feed around 200 people a day and sleep up to 50 people each night in a safe, clean and unique environment.
Inside the shelter, visitors can enjoy a Signature Living touch with bright, uplifting décor and opportunities to relax and enjoy entertainment including a pool table, tennis table, chess boards and comfy bean bags.
Lawrence is also planning to incorporate a joinery and upholstery workshop inside the building to offering the Liverpool homeless a chance to learn valuable skills and boost their job prospects.
There will be medical professional on call and drug and alcohol councilors on site 24/7 to ensure that our city’s homeless are provided for in a safe and secure environment.
Looking to the future, learning from the past
Lawrence Kenwright and his family have regularly gone out of their way to assist the homeless community in Liverpool. Last year, a temporary shelter was set up at Signature Living’s Kingsway House which offered warmth, food and security to the most vulnerable people living on the streets.
Writing in his blog, Lawrence explained that his route to helping our society’s most vulnerable came about from a purely practical aim:
“Every day we were asking our city’s homeless to leave our various sites, but they just kept on finding a way back in. On the 2 December I decided rather than fight it, I’d offer a better alternative. We had plenty of office space within Kingsway House and certainly enough food. So, on the 4 December 2017 Kingsway House was born.”
Unlike council-run shelters, Kingsways was open to everyone including the Liverpool homeless barred from local shelters due to their mental health and drug and alcohol dependencies. Up to 150 people were fed three meals every day and the shelter housed up to 80 people a night from the 2 December 2017 onwards.
The scheme became nationally renowned after The Guardian newspaper filmed a documentary on the struggles faced by Lawrence and the team called Our House: the homeless man, the hippy and the property developer.
Unfortunately, Signature had to close the shelter. What was only meant to be a short-term solution was extended well into 2018 but faced red-tape, negative attacks from local councillors and threats of closure, leading to Kinsgway House closing its doors.
As Lawrence and the team prepare to open the new shelter on Cotton Street, he’s positive about learning from the past and moving forward with a new way to help the most vulnerable people in our society. And he’s hoping that others will support us on this journey. Lawrence says:
“As we get ready to open the doors to our new shelter, I’m remaining optimistic. Let’s hope that times have changed and we are now accepted into their world; I am sure we will make a change to the plight of our city’s homeless”.
Signature Living has been praised by leading journalist Tamsen Courtenay for their work supporting the Liverpool homeless community. The author, who lead a discussion around her new book on the homeless crisis at The Shankly Hotel earlier this month, credited Signature with being a “spit in the eye” to compliance versus stability, and called our charitable work a leading success in challenging constraining technicalities laid out by councils and governments while working with the homeless.
The Public’s Response to the New Liverpool Homeless Shelter
The incredible work of Lawrence and his team working on the new Cotton Street shelter was reported nationally, with coverage in the Liverpool Echo and the iNews. The public have embraced the new shelter using social media to express support and good wishes.
Linda Clark commented on Facebook that the idea to help the Liverpool homeless community was an “amazing concept and offers the homeless the opportunities they so need and deserve to help turn their lives around”, while Kim Chaloner said it was a “brilliant idea that looks amazing and is very much needed”.
Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, also praised the initiative. Speaking to iNews, he said “Lawrence is one of Liverpool’s most prominent business people, but despite his workload, it is clear that he and his family are passionate about taking action to help people faced with homelessness.”
“His commitment to supporting the city address the problem is undeniable.”
Liverpool’s Mayor Joe Anderson also praised the shelter, tweeting “This is a fantastic looking facility. Always glad to welcome the generous voluntary support from business and individuals to help those in need. Good to see the spirit and heart of Liverpool on display,”
How you can help
Our long-term plan is to eradicate homelessness in Liverpool for good – but we can’t do that without you. The support of businesses and individuals across the region is not only appreciated – it’s critical. This isn’t a quick fix – We want to build a lasting community at Cotton Street that helps solve homelessness permanently in our city.
That’s why we’re asking you to get in touch with us. Whether you’re looking to volunteer at the shelter, offer a service, donate supplies or gift a financial contribution to the running of Cotton Street, we’d love to hear from you. Fill in the form on our new website (thecottonstreetproject.co.uk), outlining how you would like to be involved, and we’ll make sure you’re part of the team building a better vision for Liverpool and its incredible inhabitants.
The 24hr Cotton Street shelter will be opening its doors to the Liverpool homeless community on 10 October 2018 to coincide with National Homeless Day.