We write on behalf of Manchester Homelessness Partnership organisations to ask you to reconsider your decision not to fund essential accommodation for people who are experiencing homelessness or sleeping on the streets during this third national lockdown. We appreciate the funding given to date has been critical to addressing the risks to this population of the pandemic but it is simply not enough now that a third lockdown is in place for at least the next 8 weeks.
Yesterday the House of Commons voted to pass this lockdown into law, making it unlawful for people to leave their homes without good reason. The law is worded so that it excludes people who are experiencing homelessness, in effect making it lawful for them to remain outside during one of the most acute stages of this pandemic.
With over 1,000 deaths yesterday and the number of cases increasing daily, we ask for this emergency funding so that we can continue to keep people safe during this unpredictable time.
Because these are people we are supporting; they deserve the same chance as everyone else to survive this virus. The chances are stacked against them with no safe place of their own and the difficulty of engaging with health services with no phone or internet.
We’re asking for additional funding to keep people in accommodation throughout this lockdown so that we as a partnership can work with them as we did during ‘Everyone In’, where we accommodated over 450 people and helped 270 to move off the streets to a new home.
Please don’t let the people we support become the daily statistics we see in the media. Please reverse your decision on the basis of humanitarian aid.
Amanda Croome – The Booth Centre
Yvonne Hope – Barnabus
Jo Walby – The Mustard Tree
Ros Holland – The Boaz Trust
Helen Brown – On The Out
Stephanie Moore & Rebecca Elliot – Reach Out to the Community
Joe Lomas – Centrepoint
Hendrix & Risha Lancaster – Coffee4Craig
Liz Norris - Shelter
Judith Vickers – Lifeshare
Annie Emery – MASH
Fergal McCullough – The Men’s Room
During 2019 and 2020, the Booth Centre Media Group (made up of people affected by homelessness) discussed the negative coverage of homelessness that had been achieving high viewer ratings. The coverage also directly impacted individuals who saw themselves or people they knew portrayed in a way that never aimed to educate the viewer on the whole picture, instead simply reinforcing inaccurate and negative stereotypes and the othering of people affected by homelessness.
The Media Group shared personal experiences of homelessness and interacting with the media and the decision was made to formalise our approach to the media. We've now asked other organisations to take the pledge and commit to ending these inaccurate and damaging representations to allow positive change to happen and to preserve the dignity of all. We are proud to say 17 organisations have now given their support to the pledge! Together we can achieve more!
Download the pledge below and if you'd like to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every November the Booth Centre invites people to Sleepout and raise vital funds. It's a special event for us so the perfect time to launch our Aims 2020-2023.
The Booth Centre strategic plan for the next three years was agreed last year but with the uncertainty of 2020 we spent time considering the ambitious targets we set ourselves... We decided that now more than ever we need to aspire to more, people need homes and jobs, it being more difficult at the moment is no excuse to aim for less. We've never published our plans like this before, in a year of change now is the time to be bold.
Thank you to Cheetham Bell for providing gift in kind design.
Following an accident and stroke Sue was left with severe disabilities. Being unable to return to her professional career she spent a year as she says 'doing nothing', unable to leave the house and suffering with mental health problems. It was the kindness of a friend that helped Sue to rebuild her confidence and start being active again. Sue volunteers to share her talents and pay forward the kindness she was shown and to provide routine and stability. Photography has been a passion of hers since she was 14 and she will be documenting Booth Centre activities over the following months. Welcome to the team Sue!
Our theme for canvas painting this week was winter. There were pictures already on the Inspiration Table to help us with ideas. The group chatted at the table (two metre distanced and masked of course). Then inspiration taken, a calm hum of concentration fell over the room.
The occasional question or person looking at others work made it feel very friendly and welcoming. The photos have tried to capture how certain paintings came to life from start to completion. The beautiful totally different pink party gown was a fabulous surprise but still with the season being one of parties absolutely spot on. The art is hung around the Booth Centre for all to see.
We are open and operating an activities based service, with a Support Worker available in each activity to offer support and advice to those attending. A free, healthy breakfast and lunch is also provided. Our sessions currently include; gardening, Job Club, skills session, sewing, creative writing and drama and can be booked by phoning 0161 835 2499.
The Centre is Covid-secure with a one-way system in place, wall mounted hand sanitisers, PPE provision, and fully socially distanced throughout. We also have a Covid-secure welcome in place which ensures we capture the relevant information for track and trace, we talk to people about symptoms, test temperatures and provide everyone with a mask.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions we are unable to offer a drop-in service and we are limiting the number of people in sessions which is why we ask people book the activities they want to attend. We will continue to adapt the service in-keeping with the official government guidelines.
The Booth Centre provides a warm welcome, an opportunity to belong, to gain a purpose and rebuild lives.
We have spent the past couple of weeks planning with people at the Centre how we can safely deliver the holistic support we are known for in a safe and meaningful way. With lockdown easing and sections of society reopening we have taken the decision to close our Covid-19 emergency advice drop-in to focus on affecting long term change.
Our programmes will continue to include; activities such as volunteering, creative projects and sports; training and help to gain employment; support to improve health and wellbeing; assistance to access emergency accommodation; and guidance to secure and maintain a permanent home.
To enable us to adhere to social distancing and track and trace we are asking people to register. This can be done Monday-Friday 9-10am from the Booth Centre garden, alongside signposting and support to reach key workers. Or by phoning 0161 835 2499. More information regarding the activities programme will be available online next week.
We are supporting Crisis' Home For All campaign; asking the UK Government to commit to introducing emergency legislation which contains the actions needed to end homelessness for all.
The ‘Everyone In’ initiative in England brought thousands of people in off the streets and into safe accommodation in response to coronavirus in a matter of weeks. Many people in emergency accommodation have been able to access vital services and support to help end their homelessness for good. But this is coming to an end.
In Manchester the council have committed that nobody will be going from the hotels to the streets. But we have a much bigger problem in Manchester and that is the lack of affordable housing.
The Crisis campaign is asking for Housing First to be rolled out across England, internationally this model has been proven to be the most effective way of supporting people out of the worst forms of homelessness. And to make homes affordable now and in the long term.
There is not enough affordable private rented accommodation in Greater Manchester. Until this changes we will continue to have people staying in emergency accommodation for longer than is needed. This is a problem because these beds could be used by people who are still sleeping rough and it has a detrimental impact on a person’s mental and physical health.
In May 1995 the Booth Centre started in one room in Manchester Cathedral, with the same values that we have today to work with people to rebuild their lives. Over 25 years this holistic approach has involved;
We were planning a big party to bring people together, to celebrate all that has been achieved over the past 25 years. This Sunday we were planning to run through the city in the Great Manchester Run. Instead we're celebrating at home and we're asking you to join us. Fundraise from home around the theme of '25' and support people who are homeless in Manchester. We have 25 ideas to get everyone involved, don't forget to sign up and let us know you’re joining us.
It is a difficult time for a lot of us and so we appreciate your support if you are able. With potentially cancelled sponsored events likely affecting us for a long time we have never needed your support more.
The coronavirus pandemic was not the 25th celebration we had planned. Sometimes things don’t go the way you hope, it's how you respond that matters. Watch our anniversary video for a view into how we have been responding.
The Booth Centre remains operational and is continuing to provide individual support to hundreds of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness every week. Here's an update on how our service is running.
Each weekday morning, from our garden, we provide an emergency advice and support drop in for people who are still on the streets. Between 9 am and 12 noon we offer take away food and welfare packs, help to get into single room accommodation and advice.
The rest of our work is now delivered remotely. We have a free texting service where people can receive updates and reply, we are also phoning over 100 people each week offering support for people to maintain tenancies and a wellbeing check in. We have given out hundreds of phones to help everyone stay connected.
Over 200 activity packs have now been distributed these include; exercises, creative activities and practical support to help people plan for the future, including how to get help to get into work. Each weekday at 11am we have our virtual activity session on Facebook, a chance to see and hear from some friendly faces and bring everyone together.
We are grateful for your ongoing support as we adapt and respond to coronavirus.
The Booth Centre, a day service that supports people that are homeless in Manchester remains open during the outbreak of COVID – 19 to ensure that people that are homeless can get into accommodation. As other services in the city are having to close, the Booth Centre has worked tirelessly to adapt and remain open, by moving everything to operate from their garden.
The outdoor service is open 9am – 12noon offering hot drinks and a meal to take away and a free texting service to offer daily support remotely and a contact for people in emergencies. The Centre is working with Manchester City Council and other partners to accommodate all people that are currently sleeping rough and up to now, the Booth Centre has supported 78 people to access hotel accommodation in the city.
The Booth Centre team have access to the most up to date and accurate information on COVID – 19 and are sharing that with the community to ensure that everyone has the right guidance and are supported to act on it.
The Centre are also launching a new virtual arts project for people to participate in remotely. This is so people can remain occupied and retain a sense of purpose; something that is vital for mental health and wellbeing, social connection and self-esteem.
The spread of COVID-19 presents a unique set of challenges for people who come to the Booth Centre. Social distancing and self-isolation are difficult for people who live in shared accommodation, are rough sleeping or are reliant on services for food and wellbeing. But these people are also some of those most at risk from the virus, due to underlying health conditions and compromised immune systems.
Amanda Croome CEO of the Booth Centre says “Staff, volunteers and people we support have come together to create this new way of working at the Booth Centre. Whilst adopting social distancing protocol as outlined by government, we’re still able to provide our vital support – something that is so needed in our city right now. With around 40% of people who visit the Booth Centre having no income at all, and 68% that will have slept rough in the last year, it is so important we continue to offer our core services during this incredibly difficult time. We are also working closely with the Council and other partners to ensure that people who are homeless will be able to secure, single room accommodation that allows them to adhere to the government guidance stipulated.”
Because of the need for individuals and businesses to socially distance and isolate, the Booth Centre has already seen a significant decrease in donations and predicted income. With two large fundraising events in danger of being postponed and the donations of food and toiletries at an all-time low, the Booth Centre are urging people to donate money if they can via the Booth Centre website, or consider dropping off food donations at the Centre (Monday – Friday 1pm – 3.30pm only please). The list of much needed items can be found on the website.
The Booth Centre will remain an open door, non-referral service and will continue to welcome everyone who is, has been or is at risk of homelessness. But we can't do that alone, we need your support.
- Ends -
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About the Booth Centre: The Booth Centre in Manchester brings about positive change for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We help them plan for and realise a better future. On average, we provide support for over 200 people a week, of which 21% have no income at all and 68% will have slept rough in the last year.
We offer activities which help people rebuild confidence and learn something new whilst having fun and building social connections. We run arts, employment and skills sessions, provide access to medical, accommodation and benefits advice and offer everyone a healthy, free breakfast and lunch.
We support people to maintain structure and stability in their lives by providing volunteering and employment placements. Once someone has secured a temporary or permanent tenancy or employment, we commit to support them until they have found their feet and can manage their finances independently.
Registered charity no. 106267 www.boothcentre.org.uk
For more press information or opportunities please contact:
Development Manager Miriam@boothcentre.org.uk
0161 835 2499