A HOMELESS charity in Wirral has spoken about how rough sleepers are "more at risk" as winter approaches and how the community should "remember to be kind".

Wirral Ark aims to "fearlessly unite people in the fight against homelessness".

They help individuals experiencing homelessness by supporting them mentally, and with secure accommodation. 

Digital Marketing and Fundraising Manager of Wirral Ark, Michael Westcott, spoke to the Globe about the homelessness issues facing Wirral and looking forward to 2024.

He revealed that Wirral Ark have supported 120 people this year, and they currently have 71 spaces for people across five residential services, however, these spaces are "consistently at capacity".

He said: "Everywhere else on the Wirral are the same, they just can't house all the people they need to because they are always at 100% capacity."

'We don't want to have to turn anyone away'

As the weather gets colder, and Christmas approaches, Michael explained that they are expecting their need for help and support to increase.

"As Christmas gets closer we turn spaces like our activity centre into more temporary beds to help as many people as we can", he said.

"We are here to provide accommodation and a safe space for people and people are way more at risk in freezing temperatures when they are rough sleeping.

"We don't want to have to turn anyone away."

On November 20, homelessness charity Centrepoint predicted some 24,400 young people will face homelessness this winter across England.

The charity said the true number could be higher due to so-called "hidden homelessness" such as sofa-surfing by people who do not present to local authorities as needing accommodation.

Wirral Globe: Paul Hardman, Wirral Ark CEOPaul Hardman, Wirral Ark CEO (Image: Wirral Ark)

The estimated figure, for people aged 16 to 24 presenting as homeless or at risk of homelessness between October and December this year, is based on a projection by Centrepoint’s databank which has been collecting such information and tracking the trends since 2017.

Speaking on the subject of "hidden homelessness", Michael talked about "recent talks about homelessness being a 'lifestyle choice' and how it's really important for the community to remember to be kind".

He said: "It’s easy to judge someone when you don’t know their situation and we want to make people aware its not just rough sleeping, there is hidden homelessness as well.

"There is the problem of rising costs, landlords and renting. Everyone is closer to homelessness then they realise."

With 60 people on their waiting list every month, and the number rising, Michael said the charity "help as many people" as they can, however, the "funding isn't there to open more properties".

He said: "We got a grant of £64,000 from the government which helped renovate emergency accommodation rooms at Mary Cole House. which is our main hostel."

Wirral Globe: Emergency shelter renovationEmergency shelter renovation (Image: Wirral Ark)

Looking forward to next year, Michael said that Wirral Ark are "really proud of addressing the root cause of homelessness".

He added: "We support people with PTSD and trauma, and give councilling to our residents.

"94% of people experiencing homelessness have some sort of trauma of PTSD, and often becoming homeless itself causes the trauma.

"Lots of residents have take us up on this service and have improved so much.

"We will continue to give all of the help we can."

To find out more about Wirral Ark, visit here.