As cold weather approaches, Manchester City Council and other members of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership have been working together to ensure the right support is in place to help people sleeping rough off the streets this winter.
Every year during the colder winter months, the council expands its accommodation provision with additional help for people sleeping rough over and above the year-round services that are always available. Extra provision is initiated when the temperature is forecast to drop below freezing, as more people are likely to engage with services and come inside due to the life-threatening temperatures.
Learning from the experience during the pandemic, which included the success of bringing people into safe spaces for longer, the council will be offering Covid-safe accommodation with the focus on individuals accessing extensive support services to help them rebuild their lives until they can be moved on to more permanent accommodation.
Building on that success, this year, the council’s extended accommodation offer will run throughout the winter months from early December to 31 March and will include space for 50 individuals with en-suite rooms in an ex-hotel, outside the city centre. These bed spaces will be targeted for people who have been identified by partners and outreach teams as having high priority need and who have been on the streets for a long time and meet the criteria as set by the Homelessness Partnership. The Booth Centre will run the daytime Referral Hub to give easy access to the accommodation.
In addition to this, there will be 50 bed spaces provided in a hotel close to the city centre. These bed spaces will only be activated during prolonged cold weather, when the temperature is forecast to drop below zero, and will offer secure and Covid-safe spaces with support services in place to help people until they can move into more permanent accommodation.
To enable the city’s winter plans to run smoothly, additional support has come through successful partner bids to Homeless Link’s Winter Transformation fund. This £85,342 will fund a full-time Cold Weather Support Co-Ordinator working for Barnabus charity, one of the members of the Homelessness Partnership, who will help coordinate the winter provision. It will also fund a part-time worker at Centrepoint, a Mental Health worker, and will fund specialist support from MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health), On the Out, and the Boaz Trust. The Council will also receive funding from central government through the Rough Sleeper Initiative scheme and the Winter Pressures Fund.
In addition to the enhanced offer in winter the council also has access to 186 - A Bed Every Night - spaces jointly funded by Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, plus 30 additional spaces in a hotel in Fallowfield which is now an annual council scheme for people sleeping rough. (Both schemes have also had funding through the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Rough Sleeper Initiative).
Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, deputy leader of Manchester City Council said:
“Our preparations this year have taken on board lessons from during the pandemic how we and our partners helped support people who had been sleeping rough into accommodation.
“We understand that as the weather gets colder more people are likely to accept help and want to come inside out of the cold. That is why there is additional emergency provision, and why we must focus our resources on the people who most need our help.
“They are often the most difficult people to reach and our experience shows that if we, along with the help of the partnership, can help them to balance their lives by keeping them in accommodation for that little bit longer, we are more likely to get them to engage with the services that they need to help them to gain the confidence and the ability to move forward to a better and hopefully more stable way of life.”
Amanda Croome from the Booth Centre, one of the organisations involved the Manchester Homelessness Partnership said:
"As a city, we work together to try and ensure that no one needs to sleep rough. We work as a partnership to ensure we have an overarching city approach so that services complement each other without duplication so people don't fall through the net. We have had the help of people who are homeless in designing the new service and they will also be involved in delivering (through our supported volunteering programme) and reviewing it, to ensure that we have the right service to get the best outcomes for people."
The city's cold weather response is being delivered through an expansive public, voluntary and community/charity sector partnership involving Barnabus, the Booth Centre, Coffee 4 Craig, Centrepoint, The Men's Room, On the Out, Reach Out to the Community, MASH, Shelter, Boaz Trust, Greater Manchester Mental Health Services, Urban Village Medical Practice, Street Engagement Hub, Caritas, Greater Manchester Police alongside the council.
Anyone who is worried about someone sleeping rough can report them to the council online at www.streetlink.org.uk