Latest actions on homelessness challenge
This month has seen the official opening of innovative hostel for people who have lost their homes and the Council submit a planning application to create a homelessness prevention centre.
The Stop, Start, Go Sustainable Living Hostel in Cheetham Hill – which was formally opened last week – provides medium-term accommodation to get people who are rough sleeping off the streets while they get their lives back on track. This includes support to get them in to education, training or employment, and find them somewhere permanent to live.
It is jointly funded by Manchester City Council, the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s Homelessness Fund and the Edward Holt Trust charity, which was founded by a member of the Joseph Holt brewing family.
Meanwhile, the Council has put forward plans to transform an empty former residential care home in Chorlton – the Longford Centre – into a 38-bed homelessness prevention centre.
The centre, subject to approval, will be one of around 50 different housing and accommodation offers for homeless people in Manchester with each providing support for different groups with different needs.
Staffed round the clock, it will help people who have recently lost their homes by providing a safe and welcoming environment in which they can receive intensive help to rebuild their confidence and move on to independent accommodation, as well as employment, training or other opportunities.
Planning is also well underway for further shelters for people sleeping rough during the coming colder weather, complementing shelters run by our voluntary and faith sector partners.
It’s all just part of the ongoing work to address the concerning issue of homelessness, a problem which is not just limited to people who are sleeping rough – it’s most visible element – but also others who have lost their homes and are in temporary accommodation.
Homelessness has rocketed nationally – around 134% according to a recent National Audit Office report since 2010 – fuelled by welfare changes such as the introduction of universal credit and the impact of austerity, and is a particular problem in major cities.
We recognise that it’s a significant challenge here as an integral member of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership, launched in May 2016, which brought together public, voluntary and faith sector organisations to work together to tackle homelessness.
An extra investment of £1.5 million by the Council in the last year has helped to fund a range of homelessness services, from evening drop-in provision (offering food, showers and support at Centrepoint on Oldham Street in conjunction with Coffee for Craig), to extra beds.
In total, there are almost 1,000 temporary bed spaces for single people who have become homeless and rough sleepers either directly provided or commissioned by the Council.
In addition, the Big Change – a central fund for more than 20 charities supported by Manchester City Council and CityCo – has raised more than £112,000, helping hundreds of people to move forwards and begin to build a life away from the streets.
Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Homelessness is a challenging issue which we have been working day and night to tackle along with a wide range of voluntary sector organisations and other partners.
“We don’t pretend it’s not difficult. The nature of the issue is such that there are no easy or overnight solutions but we are making significant steps together.
“It isn’t always easy to engage with rough sleepers. It can often take many visits from our outreach services before those who are sleeping rough are in a place where they can accept help and support.
“It’s important to put a roof over people’s heads while they get their lives back on track. But it’s every bit as important that we provide ‘wraparound’ support to help people in emergency or temporary accommodation to address the issues which have contributed to them losing their homes so they can move into – and stay in – settled accommodation. This can include help and treatment with mental and physical health and support to gain skills and employment.
“People are being helped off the streets and forwards in their lives, although this progress isn’t always immediately apparent because unfortunately other people are becoming homeless all the time. We need to keep chipping away together and do even more to help prevent problems, supporting people before they reach crisis point, as well as demanding national action to reduce some of the causes of homelessness.”