As autumn sets in, Manchester City Council is preparing to build on its partnership work to support people who find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness.
While rough sleepers are the most visible element, it’s important to note that the issue is even broader and includes families and individuals in temporary accommodation.
Significant steps have been taken since the launch in May 2016 of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership - chaired by Bishop of Manchester The Right Rev David Walker - which brought together public, voluntary and faith sector organisations to work together tackling homelessness in the city.
An extra investment of £1.5 million by the Council into homelessness services in the last year has helped to fund:
- 90 more beds across the city for rough sleepers
- 33 refurbished bed spaces for female rough sleepers in the Women’s Direct Access Centre
- £37,000 investment in the Stop, Start, Go (SSG) employment resettlement hostel in Cheetham Hill, which was also supported by investment from the Edward Holt Trust and the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s homelessness fund.
- The redesign of Woodward Court in Ancoats to ensure the quick referral of homeless people in the evenings and weekends with the reallocation of 14 bed spaces specifically for rough sleepers
- Indoor evening provision – offering food, showers and support/advice – at Centrepoint on Oldham Street in conjunction with Coffee for Craig.
- Many of these services have been designed using insight from the ‘lived experience’ of people who have themselves been homeless.
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 of which £62,000 has been paid out, helping 418 people to move their lives forwards and begin to build a life away from the streets.
Forthcoming developments over the next two months include:
- Expanding the Council’s rough sleeper outreach team
- An extra 13 beds at Ashton Old Road in Openshaw
- A resettlement scheme to support people moving from hostels and other supported accommodation to their own homes to help sustainably free up further bed spaces.
- Improved prevention services working with people at risk of homelessness to help avoid them being evicted. For example, a personal budgeting service for people on universal credit who are struggling with budgeting to pay their rent is being provided by Shelter.
In total, there are almost 1,000 temporary accommodation bed spaces for single homeless people and rough sleepers either directly provided or commissioned by the Council.
Plans are also being developed for a new 24 hour access centre with an extra 38 temporary bed spaces for people who have recently started rough sleeping. Details with be announced in due course.
On top of this severe weather emergency planning is well underway. Extra bed spaces put in place last year have now been made permanent as part of the ongoing enhanced offer. The Council is also working with the voluntary and faith sector to establish night shelters in the city.
We are working with health partners to improve targeted care for homeless people and better ‘wraparound’ support for people with mental health of substance misuse issues.
Councillor Bernard Priest, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Homelessness is a seriously complex and challenging issue which we have been working day and night – in close partnership with commissioned and non-commissioned voluntary sector agencies and other partners – to tackle. We have put a lot of measures in place and continue to refine and reinforce the support that is available.
“The nature of the issue is such that there are no overnight solutions. This is established and ongoing work and the implication in some quarters that it is not being treated with anything other than the highest priority is wholly misleading.
“As the National Audit Office recently noted, the government’s welfare reform programme and issues around the security of tenure in the private rented sector have increased the number of people finding themselves homeless nationally and exacerbated the problem.
We would welcome the involvement of the Mayor of Greater Manchester in using his platform to bring together and support the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities to tackle these issues collaboratively and confront these challenges with government on a national stage.”
The Bishop of Manchester The Right Rev David Walker, said: "This is an extremely complex issue that not one partner can tackle alone. Hence the work during the last two years of the Manchester homeless partnership with all sectors - voluntary and community, faith groups, the fire and rescue service, health, police, and the council, and in particular also those with lived experience - to work together to support rough sleepers and homeless people."