Inteb helps bring comfort to street homeless

LIVES of the street homeless are being eased this winter thanks to the help of Inteb in a major fundraising appeal.

More than £3,000 has been raised by businesses throughout the region to fund new, heavy-duty camp beds for the night shelter at YMCA Wirral.

Nigel Hughes, YMCA Wirral’s chief executive, has praised the companies which contributed to the appeal for their efforts in bringing “comfort and dignity” to the men and women living on the streets and suffering the hardships of winter, but particularly so over Christmas.

He said: “The homeless crisis in Wirral is deep and set to get worse due to social problems such as the lack of affordable housing and unemployment. Men and women can become homeless when they leave the armed forces or prison, are escaping abusive relationships or simply just can’t afford the rent.

“Mental health issues, relationship break-down, anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drug misuse can also see people ending up living on the streets. It’s an all-year-round problem but even worse at Christmas when people relying on the hospitality of friends for a bed for the night – the ‘sofa surfers’ – get turned out to make room for relatives staying over during the festive period.

“This is why we are so grateful to all the local businesses for their support by funding new camp beds for our night shelter. Along with a few small, personal items to make their nights here more bearable, these beds have brought some comfort and dignity to those staying with us.”

Businesses who contributed to the campaign attended a presentation at Woodside Ferry Village where they were presented with certificates of appreciation by the Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Tony Smith.

Colin Jones, managing director at Inteb, said: “At a time when we were all thinking about friends, families and generally having a good time, we needed to give thought some to those not so fortunate. Loneliness and a cold pavement is perhaps all they had at Christmas and maybe the rest of the year too.

“We hope our contribution to help provide these new beds will in some way bring some comfort to those seeking safety while the rest of us sleep soundly in our own beds at home.”

The Sleep Ferry Well campaign was co-ordinated by Woodside Ferry Village and Birkenhead business Samelco Web Technology.

Since the year-round shelter in Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead, opened 10 years ago, the number of street homeless using it as a place of refuge has steadily increased, last year providing a total of 4,869 bed night places to 377 men and women.

Fifteen beds arrived at the shelter before Christmas and more are now being ordered to replace the ones that have split and broken due to their heavy use.

Nigel added: “A warm and comfortable bed, hot drinks, food and someone to talk to during the long winter nights is the least we can do as we work to try and pick up the pieces of broken lives.”

The night shelter operates 365 days a year at YMCA Wirral and provides emergency overnight beds for up to 12 men and five women. This is in addition to the 56 bed spaces at the Birkenhead centre.