A new prevention centre will open today (Monday 15 January) to help people who have recently become homeless to turn their lives around.
The 38-bed Longford Centre in Chorlton, a former residential care home, has been transformed into a support centre to help move on to independent accommodation, employment, training and other opportunities.
Since December staff, local volunteers and businesses have been working hard, cleaning, painting the interior, furnishing rooms and bringing in support services to get the council-run homelessness prevention centre ready to welcome the first people taking up residence this week.
The centre will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing accommodation to help single people and childless couples new to homelessness and with relatively low needs who have been referred by either the Council homelessness services or other organisations working with homeless people.
As well as accommodation, hot meals will be provided for those who want them with two additional kitchens available for residents to use as well as communal living areas and a computer room.
Support will be flexible and tailored to fit the needs of residents. For some it may be help with finances, debt problems, managing budgets or benefits advice. Help will also be on hand to support people to find employment, for example support with CV writing skills and interview techniques.
Residents will receive whatever support they need to boost their confidence as they move on with their lives. They will be encouraged to take part in some of the additional activities on offer such as gardening, creative writing and reading, as well as cooking and food hygiene courses.
Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council said: "I would like to thank the staff and all the local volunteers who have worked tremendously hard to ensure that this centre was ready to open today. It means that we can help people when they first fall into difficulty and ensure that they get the support they need very quickly without having to worry about having a roof over their heads and ultimately prevent them falling into a cycle of homelessness. We hope that this early intervention will help them move forward in their lives and on to more permanent accommodation."
Stephanie Moore from Reach Out to the Community - who work with homeless people in south Manchester - said: "I am really pleased that this centre has now opened. It will prevent many people ending up homeless as this type of early help and support is crucial when people for whatever reason find themselves in difficulty. Hopefully this will be the type of intervention they need in the short term to get their lives back on track."
The Council-run centre is intended to supplement the range of existing accommodation and support services which are already available – around 50 different housing and accommodation options, each providing support to different groups of homeless people and meeting different needs.
The support services on offer have been jointly designed through the Manchester Homelessness Partnership by the council, voluntary sector and public sector organisations who work with homeless people and with people who have experienced homelessness themselves.