A new vision to end homelessness in all its forms in Manchester was the focus of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership (MHP) today, 10 October, World Homelessness Day.
At a relaunch event, the Partnership reflected on the work of the last seven years and restated its ambition to ending homelessness in the light of the huge challenges facing people in the current economic climate, and the ongoing energy and cost-of-living crisis.
The MHP has brought together the public and private sectors, the voluntary and charity sectors, alongside people who have experienced homelessness, sharing knowledge and expertise to work together in a city approach and with one voice to ensure that homelessness is rare, brief and one-off.
The work of the Action groups each tackle a key challenge that people experiencing homelessness regularly face, such as access to mental health support, emergency accommodation, employment, and migration and destitution. Genuine progress has been made including; securing additional funding to support young people, developing services for women with complex needs, supporting ex-offenders, and improving prevention work across the partnership.
One of the overarching key successes of working together has been a reduction of 50% in the numbers of people sleeping rough on the streets. This was the most pressing issue facing the city when the MHP started, and the collaborative efforts of working together to design services, the ability to secure funding, share resources has seen major changes to the support provided to people to help deal with issues that led to them sleeping rough in the first instance and wrap around support to stay off the streets.
Looking to the future, the Partnership aims to reinvigorate members, bring new partners on board and to get new Action Groups off the ground to deal with a changing emphasis in the homelessness landscape.
Although people sleeping rough continues to be an issue, the rising numbers of families/people presenting as homeless and the increasing number of people in temporary accommodation is the overriding challenge for the MHP. Work to improve outcomes for people at risk of homelessness and to prevent it happening in the first instance, along with a reduction in the time in temporary accommodation and ending the routine use of Bed & Breakfast accommodation, with a focus on quality and more affordable accommodation, will be a key focus for the homeless partnership in the future.
Councillor Joanna Midgley Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council said:
“We know that Manchester is stronger together. Our one city approach under the umbrella of the MHP to tackling homelessness means that we have a real chance to make a marked difference to our residents at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. We can achieve more together as we have shown through the successes of the Partnership. However, we know that we are in challenging times so now is the right time to refocus and breathe new life into the work that we are all passionate about and work towards our aim to end homelessness together.
"The work taking place across the Partnership is reflected in our transformation programme in the homelessness service where we are placing greater emphasis on prevention, and to cut the number of people in temporary accommodation while continuing to reduce the number of people sleeping rough."
Paul Newcombe, Manchester Homelessness Partner and Chief Executive of the Booth Centre said:
“With the cost-of-living crisis there has never been a more crucial time for us to come together to redouble our efforts, in making homelessness a thing of the past in Manchester.
“Working in partnership with people who have experienced homelessness, the MHP has improved standards of temporary accommodation across the city, has helped preserve peoples' dignity through specialist projects, and improved choice by recognising individual need. Though some great work has been done, there is more ahead of us and I am confident we can get there together.
“This relaunch event provides the ideal opportunity for all like-minded services and citizens of Manchester to work together on the next steps, focusing on prevention and wider system and structural problems whilst meeting the significant needs of those in crises.
“The strength of Manchester's homeless partnership is its wide and varied membership and how each partner can contribute, the relaunch both recognises this and builds on it for the future."
To help people sleeping rough this winter there are a range of homelessness charities and organisations that work across Manchester which request specific items, volunteers or donations to fund their vital work including Real Change MCR, one of the Action Groups, a fund which supports 20+ charities in Manchester who can access the fund to help get people sleeping rough the things they need and ongoing support to start a new life away from the streets - to donate or find out more: www.realchangemcr.co.uk
For anyone needing help and advice this winter go to www.manchester.gov.uk/helpinghands