As we approach the one-year anniversary of The Cotton Street Project, we look back at where we started and where we are today as a newly registered homeless charity in Liverpool.
After almost one year we’ve already made such a difference in the lives of Liverpool’s most vulnerable people and, as we approach the 12-month mark, we can certainly look forward to a brighter future for both those we support and the organisation itself.
Between 2016 and 2018, there was a noticeable incline in the number of homeless people on the streets of Liverpool and, after the doors closed for good to the Kingsway Homeless Shelter, Signature Living took the matter into our own hands by building a new shelter with a new concept.
The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. That’s why we knew it was time to try a fresh approach at Cotton Street, supporting those who had fallen on hard times with more than just shelter and food.
We involved the community, asking those who could help to join us in pioneering a different kind of care and support. We began to lead those in need through tailored recovery programmes, helping them return to a life in society as independent, skilled individuals.
Today we have helped plenty of people overcome serious addiction, given others new, invaluable skills and built a strong supportive network within the homeless community.
We are changing lives and we’re doing it one step at a time.
The scale of Liverpool’s, and indeed the nations, homeless epidemic is monumental, but by using our initiative The Cotton Street Project have taken people from having no hopes and dreams and helped them work towards a future that they never thought possible.
Here are just a few of the success stories (theirs not ours) from those who have benefited from our work at Cotton Street, people who have become advocates for this new kind of homeless support.
Arriving at Kingsway House in 2017, Mark was a heavy drug user. He was surviving one of the city’s coldest winters on record on the streets of Liverpool and even though during his time at Kingsway Mark’s drug use decreased, the centre’s closure saw him fall straight back into old habits.
Today Mark has been drug-free for weeks, after spending only 5 months in Cotton Street, working closely with our team and everyone’s friend Brian (aka. Mr Old Hall Street), Mark is looking forward to staying clean and reconnecting with his family.
“I feel like a new man already, I’m almost back to the Mark I was 20 years ago before I started taking drugs. Life is finally getting good now.”
At Cotton Street, we work hard to help people overcome their addiction instead of turning those with dependencies away.
One man who has consciously made a noticeable effort to turn his life around is Robert. He too came to us at Kingsway with a habit that saw him using up to 13 times a day. With help from Cotton Street Robert is now using less and less and has been retraining as an upholsterer during his tailored recovery programme at Cotton Street.
What’s more, Robert has set himself a personal goal, to reconnect with his family after realising the effect a solid support network can provide.
“Cotton Street is giving me another shot, I want to get clean, get back into work and back in with my real family. This is my street family, but I want my real family too.”
These people have been given a second chance by The Cotton Street Project, a chance to break the cycle that so many others have been living in for years, ending their dependence on what is clearly an outdated system.
By adopting a different approach to start solving the homeless epidemic, we as a local community have proven that thinking outside the box and looking for long-term solutions really does help stop the cycle for good.
After doing great work over the last year at Cotton Street we’ve finally managed to gain status as a registered homeless charity in Liverpool.
This new status allows us to receive grants and funding to further improve our work and the services we offer. We can sustain certain resources that have helped us get people back into work and better gain access to the invaluable experienced councillors who work with our people to banish their dependency on drugs.
Our status as a registered homeless charity in Liverpool will help us get the word out about the work we are doing. We can let people know how they can do more and more to slow the homeless epidemic and hopefully inspire others to adopt something similar in their own communities.
As a registered homeless charity in Liverpool, we can now begin to raise funds for our cause by organising special events that will not only spread awareness but also encourage the local community come together in support of those who need it.
With the help of the NHS, Merseycare, council officials, agencies and the people of Liverpool, we’re stronger together, and can really make a difference.