Homelessness in Liverpool appears to be at an all time high and it’s impossible to walk through the city without seeing someone in a state of destitution. It’s a complex problem with so many factors at play and there are different ideas and opinions about what to do about it. Two things that will always help the matter are awareness and acts of kindness — in this article we go behind the scenes and document the sterling work of The Peace Movement and others who are reaching out to those in need.
With winter and freezing temperatures approaching, we attended one of The Peace Movement’s soup kitchen events — held every Tuesday from 7pm until 9pm at The Bombed Out Church. Food is distributed as well as clothing and toiletries, whilst music is played and people socialise. We learnt about the work they’re doing and talked to some of the volunteers as well some of the homeless people.
Barry is the founder of The Peace Movement and amidst the hustle and bustle and banging of drums he told us: “The Peace Movement started around a year ago as a club night as a way to give something back but we decided we needed to practice what we preach and actually do something. The soup kitchen here has been going around 12 weeks now and we’ve had great support from volunteers and people donating things, as well as the likes of Everton Football Club, Tesco, The Holiday Inn and Greggs getting involved. It’s a deep rooted problem and it’s tough to totally fix it but there are some great people involved in The Peace Movement and things like this really do help.”
Abdul Hakim is a German man of Turkish descent who brings soup and other food to The Bombed Out Church every Tuesday. He was with his friend dishing out soup and he told us more about what he does and why: “The idea of a soup kitchen comes from the Ottoman Empire. I’ve been doing it here in Liverpool for 2 years and did it back home in Germany. I make a big pan at home and bring it here. It’s kind of strange you know — a German giving out food outside a church that the Germans bombed. It’s not often you’ll find this situation!”
Gym Hippy is one of the volunteers who reaches out to the homeless and he often takes time to sit with them in the street and talk to them. He told us of how he got involved and his views on the situation: “One day I helped a homeless man named Brian and it sparked something inside me and inspired me to do more. Now I work with a group of people and we help around 10 homeless people every day. People need to stop taking and start giving — rather than walk past and ignore these people, make time for them. This government fails so many people and money makes us greedy — people need to start acting reaching out and helping people like this.”
Brian: The Homeless Man Who Helps The Homeless
Brian has been homeless for around a year and ever since the day Gym Hippy reached out and helped him, he sets about helping other homeless people. He explained: “One day Gym Hippy helped me and it really meant a lot. Rather than ignore me, he came and sat with me and helped me with somewhere to stay for the night. Now, if I ever get any money or food, I’ll share it with other homeless people. The people of The Peace Movement are diamonds and I wish there were more people like that in the world.”
Andrew: A Success Story
We spoke with one of the volunteers, Jane, about a young man called Andrew who they recently helped. She explained: “When we found Andrew he was in a bad way. He had fallen out with his family and had nowhere to go. The first thing we did was get him checked out medically and psychologically. We gave him a mobile phone and kept in touch with him daily. He’s now back on his feet and we still keep in touch. It’s things like this that make all this worthwhile.”
Since our visit to the soup kitchen, The Peace Movement have raised money by doing a sleepover at Everton Football Club’s ground and they received coverage on Sky Sports. They’ve hosted a huge Motown event and Funky House and Techno events to raise more money. In order to raise awareness, they have more marches through the city planned. They’ve been filming a documentary and have received a fair bit of media coverage, particularly with the Signature Living shelter and Brian’s story. Homelessness is indeed a major problem and it’s difficult to completely resolve it as there are so many factors at play, but raising awareness and acts of love and kindness will go a long way. Groups of people such as The Peace Movement are really making a difference — why don’t you do something too?
For more info on The Peace Movement CLICK HERE
Images courtesy of Amanda Toovey and The Peace Movement