Manchester City Council’s new lead member for homelessness has issued a call for donations to the city’s Big Change fund ahead of a challenging period.
The last few months have seen an extraordinary public health response to help keep people who were sleeping rough or in shelters safe from the virus by getting them off the streets and into hotels and other accommodation. More than 250 people have been helped, with 240 still in hotel-type accommodation and 20 others found new housing.
Many have made real progress in improving their personal circumstances during that time due to the stability and security on offer, and increased engagement with the wraparound support available – taking steps to break the cycle which has kept them on the streets.
For example, some 69 people have accessed support services to tackle addiction and 39 have been registered or been reconnected with GPs.
But with government funding to enable this Everybody In initiative stopping from the end of this month, the response is entering a new phase and sustaining these stories of progress is going to be a real challenge. At the same time, as the economic impacts of coronavirus begin to bite there will inevitably be more people becoming homeless.
The Council is determined to do all it can to ensure nobody needs to return to the street. Everyone who has been accommodated on an emergency basis through the coronavirus response will have a personalised plan developed with them. Work is taking place to extend some of the current accommodation and to support others into private rented accommodation.
This is where donations to Big Change can really help. Big Change can help fund deposits, bonds and moving packages to help people into homes. This targeted support helps people break the cycle of homelessness, in a way that giving to people who are begging can never achieve. Giving directly to people who are begging is widely recognised as being counterproductive by acting as a barrier to them accessing the wraparound support available.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, lead member for homelessness, said: “In the last few weeks many people who had been sleeping on the streets, including some who might not have been willing to engage with support services before, have made significant steps forwards in their lives.
“We are determined to do all we can to ensure nobody has to return to the street.
“But Manchester people can play their part too and I would encourage them to donate to The Big Change which provides funding to help people break out of the cycle of homelessness. This includes help getting them set up in their own accommodation, such as deposits and rental bonds. There has been a big change – please help us sustain it.”
The Council’s outreach team continue to work to build up relationships with anyone who is sleeping rough and connect them with the support available.
As well as supporting people off the streets and into accommodation, prevention remains the most effective approach to tackling homelessness.
Wherever possible this is about helping people who are already in accommodation to remain in it, especially given the pressure on housing availability.
Some examples of prevention include:
Mediating with landlords to prevent eviction proceedings
Assisting with issues of rent and disrepair
Mediating with families and friends to enable people to stay in existing accommodation
Helping people with deposits to allow them to find their own accommodation solutions without having to go into temporary accommodation.
Anyone in Manchester who is at risk of losing their accommodation should visit www.manchester.gov.uk/homelessness for more details about the help available.
About Big Change
The Big Change is part of Manchester Homelessness Charter, bringing together people experiencing homelessness, charities, grassroots groups, the council, businesses and individuals to tackle homelessness in Manchester.
Big Change has already raised more than £270,000 and helped more than 1,500 people. For more information or to donate go to www.bigchangemcr.co.uk