A citywide charter on homelessness is to be developed by organisations working with homeless people including the voluntary sector, street charities, faith groups, health, GMP and Manchester City Council in the run up to World Homeless Day on Saturday 10 October.
Two days of engagement and discussions on the 8 and 9 October will build on the work of local charities culminating in a citywide pledge to develop a ‘homeless charter’ which will outline how people and organisations can support and help homeless people. The charter will be the direct result of these discussions with homeless and vulnerable people as well as partner organisations on how best to tackle the issue of homelessness.
Thursday 8 October will see staff who work with homeless people go into day centres and temporary accommodation to hear what people have to say. In addition organisations working with rough sleepers will be talking to people on the streets for their input into what they want to see being done to tackle homelessness.
These results will feed into a meeting on Friday 9 October. Councillor Paul Andrews, Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing will open the event and an invited audience will hear from the Bishop of Manchester, The Rt Revd Dr David Walker; people with personal experience of homelessness from The Mustard Tree; Dr Shaun Jackson, lead for homeless health at Urban Village Medical practice.
Discussion groups will look to develop the principles as to how each sector* in the city can work together towards a shared goal of the 'homeless charter' to support the challenge of homelessness in the city.
The main strands during the session will include discussion around street giving - a campaign to be launched in November to encourage people to give their money to charities and voluntary organisations that work with people on the street rather than to individuals . Other topics for discussion will include accommodation/housing, health, community safety, education, employment and training and social activities to help with resettlement and wellbeing as well as opportunities within Greater Manchester.
Developing this charter builds on work already underway which has resulted in the council bringing an additional 40 bed spaces online in September following the reopening of three council-run shared houses and the redesign of existing houses. In addition, an existing commissioned accommodation scheme at Brydon Court has been redesigned to provide specialist accommodation for rough sleepers most notably to accept dogs which is often a barrier to rough sleepers accepting accommodation. While there support workers will help rough sleepers access other services and help them move towards independent living.
On World Homeless Day, Saturday 10 October the Coalition of Relief which includes a network of grass roots voluntary organisations that work on the streets will be holding an event in Cathedral Gardens 12pm - 4pm to raise awareness of the work that they do to help homeless people in the city and to provide information about what individuals can do to help them.
Councillor Paul Andrews, Executive Member for Adults Health and Wellbeing said: “Like many big cities, Manchester has a growing problem with homelessness. We know that as a council we can’t tackle this alone which is why we are adopting a new approach involving all the sectors of the city to play a part in helping address the difficult challenges of homelessness in our city. These discussions are the first steps in bringing about this homeless charter to ensure that we have the right organisations and people on board with a plan to take our work forward. We have already made some progress this year following our consultation looking into homeless provision and based on what we heard we have already made changes to our provision including bringing more bed spaces online and removing barriers that it make it difficult for rough sleepers to accept."
Bishop of Manchester, The Rt Revd Dr David Walker said: "I'm delighted that these events will bring different groups and individuals together, to seek a shared Manchester charter on homelessness.
"I'm particularly pleased that organisations will be going out on the streets and listening to the views of those who are homeless themselves. It's only through hearing their voices loud and clear that we will be able to work with them to respond effectively to their needs and aspirations."