Might I please kick-off 2017 with a New Year’s resolution not only for Birkenhead, but for the country as a whole?
Homelessness, both in the form of sleeping on the streets and families having to ‘surf’ from one friend or relative’s sofa to another each week, is emerging as a large and growing problem.
This has become painfully apparent at successive meetings of Feeding Birkenhead.
Food banks and other projects working with vulnerable individuals generally do not stock food that is ready to eat, which is really the only food the destitute homeless are able to eat.
I will propose at the next meeting of Feeding Birkenhead that we should begin replicating what has been done in Greenwich.
The destitute homeless there have each been given a thermos flask with a particular sticker on the side.
Local cafes have then been invited to display a similar sticker in their window.
If they have chosen to do so, this has signalled to the destitute homeless that they can use the hot water facility there for free.
This move has enabled food banks and others to give the destitute homeless sachets of soup or pasta, for example, knowing that this would be eaten later that night once the biting cold has set in.
As a longer term measure, I am trying to gain a commitment to get more homes built which would prevent people having to sleep rough in Birkenhead.
Likewise, I am supporting a bill currently going through Parliament which would place a duty on all local authorities to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
It’s a sign of how desperate things have become at the bottom, that such emergency action is required in 2017.
But I will continue doing all I can to try and reverse this worrying trend.