Peak Begging Season
The Council’s Executive met yesterday opening with a fairly detailed report on what the City Council and its voluntary sector and other public sector partners have been doing to tackle homelessness since the Homelessness Partnership was established in 2015.
A lot of attention tends to focus on the very visible rough sleeping but the homelessness crisis is much bigger than that, and despite our best efforts it’s getting worse. The role out of Universal Credit alone is pushing thousands into debt and increasing evictions. The City Council is currently providing over a thousand temporary homes for over 800 families and a large number of single people.
The first job is to do more to prevent homelessness in the first place and the Council has invested in more staff to help do this. The second is to try and make any period of homelessness as short as possible. The proposed investment in a new residential and support facility in Chorlton is an example of this. The third is to get people on the street off it. Evidence suggests that rough sleepers get institutionalised very quickly and the longer they are on the street the harder it is to get them off it. The sort of provision being made by Coffee4Craig and Centrepoint is an example of the Partnership ensuring there is no need for people to be on our streets.
Which brings me to the issue of begging. As Christmas approaches the number of beggars on our streets will increase, ready to prey on the kindness and generosity of Manchester people. Many of them will be neither homeless nor rough sleepers though many of them will be. Of the homeless and rough sleepers many will have mental health and/or addiction problems for which they need help - help they can only get if we can get them off the street.
Giving to people on the street, money, food, clothes, just helps keep them there. Most of the money given just ends up in drugs or alcohol. That kindness, compassion and generosity is really appreciated but if you want to help through giving, do it to the Big Change campaign and help our voluntary sector partners help people into a better life.