The Homelessness Charter, developed by groups working alongside people affected by homelessness, with their voices at its core, is the city’s new approach to tackling homelessness.
One strand of this approach is the Big Change Fund, Manchester’s alternative giving strategy, that aims to maximise the use of public donations for the benefit of people who are homeless.
Manchester’s Homelessness Charter has brought together city leaders, faith groups, businesses, the voluntary sector, street charities, CityCo, Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups, and Manchester City Council in a united front to tackle the problem of homelessness in the city.
The creation of the Charter has been led by local charity Mustard Tree and has involved extensive consultation with numerous people who have personally experienced homelessness, as well as dozens of other organisations working in the homelessness sector across the city.
It outlines the principles that establish how people experiencing homelessness should be treated and how the city intends to deal with the problem.
It calls for action from those who agree to adopt the charter values to make a pledge to demonstrate their support.
All pledges will be expected to involve making a commitment to doing something new to tackle homelessness in the city.
Pledges could include financial contributions, donating in-kind resources such as volunteers, products, skills or expertise, or supporting employment projects by offering entry level jobs, with the aim of working together to reduce homelessness and ultimately to eliminate it.
In the spotlight: Allied London pledge an annual donation of £5,000, with a further £5,000 pledged by Allied London CEO Michael Ingall, making a total pledge to the Big Change Fund of £10,000 annually for 5 years.
Alternatively pledges could include a commitment to join one of a number of ‘action groups’ being set up to look at specific priority issues that have been identified as presenting the greatest problems to those who are homeless.
Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups have also made a pledge to ensure equal access to services for those experiencing homelessness, to ensure representation for those experiencing homelessness in patient and public advisory groups, and to connect commissioning of health and social care with housing, employment and education services.
Some of the priority areas already identified include, improving mental health provision, increasing emergency accommodation for rough sleepers, creating an indoor evening provision for rough sleepers, increasing employment opportunities and improving sub-standard temporary accommodation.
The new charter is aimed principally at organisations but individuals who want to help people who are homeless get off the streets can also adopt the charter and pledge to do their bit at:charter.streetsupport.net
The Street Support Network website www.streetsupport.net provides more information about various charities and services supporting people who are homeless in Manchester and how individuals and businesses can get involved.
Jez Green of Mustard Tree, who has been seconded to the city to facilitate the creation of the charter, said: "We believe that Manchester should become a city free from homelessness. To do this, we need everyone who lives, works or studies in the city to do their part, and the charter seeks to help this to happen. In tackling a growing and complex issue such as this, it is vital that those affected personally by the issue are given a central role in creating change at every level. More than anything, this is what we are working towards."
Councillor Paul Andrews, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing said: “Homelessness is an issue that the council cannot deal with alone and the charter is a defining moment in the way in which we tackle the issue. Adopting this new approach and involving all sectors of the city means that we can all play our part in helping to create innovative solutions to the problem of homelessness in our city.”
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Dr David Walker, said “When you find yourself homeless, and almost any of us can, your health, life expectancy, job chances and relationships all drop through the floor. It can be a long, hard journey back. Working together within the Manchester Charter is our best chance both to help people on that journey of recovery, and to reduce the numbers who fall into the trap of homelessness.”
Michael Ingall, Chief Executive of Allied London, said; “The recent publicity and physical evidence of Homelessness in Manchester city centre has made this issue very apparent to us, as an agent for physical change and development in the built environment of the city we would have to be very thick skinned to leave this issue unnoticed. We can't, nor will we. I am sure there are various reasons for homelessness, but that is an even bigger reason to get involved and ensure help is given in all areas physical and psychological. We have in recent weeks explored how we can help and decided the best way to do that is by supporting The Big Change, adopting this cause as our way of helping to get to the root of homelessness in Manchester and begin the long road to relieve the issues causing and caused by homelessness. I hope also our support will be the start of a significant corporate response, and hope to see others follow our pledges. In addition, we’d also like to explore how a prototype building can be developed for homeless people that not only adapts to physical needs but also emotional and psychological.”
Greater Manchester Police, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said:“Greater Manchester Police is committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and we are pleased to support the Homelessness Charter, which reaffirms that commitment and creates a defined network of aid and advice. We will continue to work closely with partner agencies and our local communities to identify those who need assistance, and give them the help they need to create a better life.”