1. ITV Report

Jamie Carragher: We should spend less on foreign aid and focus on UK homeless

Photo: Liverpool Echo Syndication

Jamie Carragher has said it is 'absolute nonsense' how much the UK spends of foreign aid and believes the government needs to focus on looking after homeless people in this country first.

The Reds legend spoke at the launch of a new £150,000 homeless shelter in Liverpool and said that while he has 'no problem' with helping vulnerable people around the world - he believes we should 'start with our own'.

Carragher responded to claims by Prime Minister Theresa May that austerity is over by saying:

To say austerity is over is just absolute nonsense.

But what I would say is we are a country that has a massive foreign aid budget and I have no problem at all with helping vulnerable people around the world, but you start with your own.

You want to help other people but you help the vulnerable people we have first - and there are none more vulnerable than the homeless people all over this country.

I read a stat that 440 people died on the streets of the country last year and we are giving money away in millions and billions to different countries to help their vulnerable people when you've got people back in our country - that is just an absolute nonsense, you have to help your own and a lot more help is needed for the homeless.

– Jamie Carragher

The new homeless centre - which has been compared to the Big Brother house - was opened by hotel developer Lawrence Kenwright and his Signature Living group. He had earlier opened another homeless refuge at Kingsway House in the city which was beset with problems.

The new centre will offer mental health support and Mr Kenwright wants it to be the first in the country to have a designated sharps room, where residents can safely dispose of drug needles.

Jamie Carragher said:

The biggest lesson I have learnt is not to do what we did last year, because we opened our doors to all and sundry and just let them in - before we knew it we had 80 homeless people with mental health issues and drug addictions and by the time we had let them in it was minus five outside and we hadn't got any sign-off from anyone so it gave the council a huge issue with us.

But we were stuck between a rock and a hard place - we couldn't throw them out because it was so cold outside.

So when we opened this place now, we have actually engaged with absolutely everybody, the council is on board now as members of our trust.

But one of the main things we realised last time was that none of the homeless people that we took on had a clear path out - so we wanted to ensure that we would take them from the doorways to actually having a real life and feeling human again.

– Jamie Carragher

Former Reds defender Jamie said he can already see that the new Cotton Street facility is streets ahead of Kingsway House.

I went to Kingsway and got involved there with Lawrence and it was done with the best of intentions, you do as much as you can and I think it's fantastic that we've got someone like Lawrence and his team in this city helping people in this situation.

But this is completely different, I think they have learnt a lot. You think of a homeless shelter you think of something dark, grey and dingy and this is completely different.

It's not somewhere where the homeless can just go to sleep or eat - which itself is fantastic - but it's actually somewhere they might want to stay throughout the day. There's activities, there's an area where they can learn some skills - a canteen and kitchen, it really will be a better place for people. The thing with homelessness now is you can't get away with it - every time you are in the city centre. I'm always up on Bold Street, Wood Street, Tithebarn Street and there are homeless people everywhere. Like everyone else I will stop and give them what is in my pocket - but then you go and get on with your life but then you stop and think, where are they going to sleep tonight? Where are they going to eat? Where are they going to get washed?

It is heartbreaking - we all have our different problems at different times but nothing can be worse than that.Its a problem not just in our city but in our country and it's great what we are looking at in Cotton Street - which is probably the first of its kind in the country and hopefully we will see a lot more of these in working class cities across the country.

– Jamie Carragher