Michelle Langan, CEO
Michelle established Paper Cup Project back in 2016, when she saw how homelessness was growing across the city and wanted to do more to help people. Starting out as a team of just two people with a bag of sandwiches and a flask, Paper Cup has grown into a fully-fledged registered charity providing outreach services across the whole of Liverpool.
“I started Paper Cup because I felt that people who were sleeping rough weren’t being heard; they were voiceless, and being on the streets carries a lot of stigma.”
PCP strives to tackle this stigma, and to support people experiencing homelessness in Liverpool by giving them a voice, support and linking them up with statutory services to get them the help that they need.
What have you learned about homelessness through your work with Paper Cup Project?
“As a city we are really lucky that we have Labre House and a city that is so keen to help out and guide our homeless friends to somewhere where they will feel safe during this very unsettling time. I’d say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone that supports us. It is a really rubbish time at the moment but this just highlights what a fab city we do have and how we can turn a rubbish situation into something a little bit more positive.”
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
“I absolutely love our team. We really are like one big Paper Cup Project family. I love that we can all have a laugh with one another but also when it turns into a fashion show at the storage. Not mentioning names…but deffo Jack and Adam are guilty for making us giggle. It really does bring people together.”
What have you learned and
What have you enjoyed most about your time with Paper Cup Project?
“Hearing the stories of people’s lives and how quickly things can change, how without having right support its easy to end up in that position and once you’re there it’s hard to bounce back. It does really make you appreciate life. I enjoy going out and making sure the people we meet are looked after whether it’s food, clothes, a cuppa or a simple conversation.”
How can we help those experiencing homelessness in their everyday lives?
“There’s so much you can do to help people experiencing homeless. Even if it’s not going out yourself you can donate money to provide essentials, stop and have a conversation, or even just say hello. If you can, a sandwich and a drink would definitely be appreciated. We are all here to help each other and as long as we ALL do the best we can to help anyone in need, then the world will be filled with love in every corner.”
What have you learned most from being a Paper Cup Project team member?
“I’d probably say my biggest lesson has been insight. The team help people from all walks of life from rich to poor, from young to old, regardless of class, colour or creed. It’s frightening how easy any one of us could end up homeless or sofa surfing in today’s world. The stories we hear remind me to appreciate our loved ones and enjoy the little things.’
How did you get involved with Paper Cup Project?
“I got involved nearly 4 years ago now, I worked with Adam, who is a volunteer, and mentioned I was going to apply for something to help the homeless. He said he was involved in Paper Cup Project, got in touch with Michelle and next thing you know I was part of the team. Everyone was so welcoming and it was a BOSS experience which I knew I wanted to be a part of further.”
What have you learnt about homelessness?
“The main thing I’ve learned from Paper Cup Project is that absolutely anybody can end up homeless, regardless of what situation you may currently find yourself in. I’ve also learned how complex the issue of homelessness truly is, it’s not just as simple as housing everyone sleeping rough. There’s so much more to it such as mental health issues. It’s amazing what we do at PCP and it’s made me appreciate everything I have in life that little bit more.”
How can people make a difference in their day to day life to tackle homelessness?
“I think the main thing is not to prejudge. You have no idea how or why that person has come to be in that situation. More often than not just lending an ear to someone can make a massive difference to how they are feeling.”
Do you think homelessness is different for men and women?
“It’s a horrible situation for anyone to be in despite their gender and people cope in different ways. We meet so many people showing a range of emotions regardless of if they are a man or a woman. We recently met a woman who was having a terrible time for reasons I can’t disclose but it just goes to show how resilient people can be in really difficult situations.”