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
The Booth Centre is an award-winning community centre run with people affected by homelessness. Founded in 1995 by Amanda Croome, MBE, the Centre had the vision for everyone to have a secure home and the opportunity to have a good quality of life. The Booth Centre’s vision remains the same today, and the organisation is as determined as ever to work hard to achieve this in an unpredictable post-pandemic world.
The Booth Centre has released its latest Annual Report celebrating the positive changes the community was able to make during the last year. The report covers April 2020 to March 2021; a year in which the Centre stayed open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, redesigned its service with people at the Centre three times and celebrated its 25th Anniversary in lockdown.
After over 26 years of service, the Booth Centre’s dedicated CEO and Founder, Amanda Croome will be moving on at the end of November. Amanda will take up a new position with Caritas Diocese of Salford to oversee their homeless services across the region – including Cornerstone Day Centre, The Red Door in Bury and their accommodation projects. Patrick O’Dowd, Director of Caritas Diocese of Salford, said:
“Caritas Diocese of Salford is delighted that Amanda is joining our team from the Booth Centre after her years of dedicated service. Her deep commitment to people experiencing the trauma of homelessness, her leadership and expertise will be vital to our new plans as we seek to enhance and develop our existing work across Greater Manchester and Lancashire. With Amanda, we’re looking forward to continuing our great partnership with the Trustees and whole team at the Booth Centre and other agencies across Manchester in the future.”
Amanda leaves a successful, award-winning organisation, which has a transformative impact on the lives of more than a thousand people who are homeless each year. The Booth Centre has a national reputation for leading good practice in the field, with a clear strategic plan, a sound financial position, an engaged Board of Trustees and a strong leadership team. With a skilled and dedicated staff team and effective partnerships with a range of organisations and a community that works together to deliver transformative services; the Centre is in a strong position to face the inevitable challenges it faces in the coming months and years to continue its vital work.
Kate McSweeney, Deputy CEO, will take up the position of Acting CEO in the interim whilst recruitment is underway to find a new permanent CEO to lead the charity into its next phase. Kate will be supported by Amy Town (nee Hinks) - Head of Fundraising and Development and Alix Moreleigh - Head of Services.
Elena Fowler, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Booth Centre, said:
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the staff team, our volunteers and supporters, I would like to thank Amanda for her unwavering dedication, commitment and hard work in founding and serving the Booth Centre over the last 26 years. Amanda’s sheer determination to put people affected by homelessness at the heart of decision-making, and the delivery of services, has had a huge impact for thousands of people through the work of the Booth Centre. Thankfully, the sector is not losing her expertise and experience, and we wish her every success in her new role with Caritas Diocese of Salford and look forward to continuing to work with her to help transform the lives of people affected by homelessness.
We are seeking to appoint a new CEO, who will provide strategic direction for the Booth Centre and its staff, and directly contribute to improving conditions and eradicating homelessness in Manchester and the city region. This is an exciting time to lead the Booth Centre into its next phase, and the role presents the opportunity for someone to make a real difference in helping to end homelessness in Manchester and to work with people to transform their lives.”
Find out more about the role and enquire here.
Here's a snapshot of our work during the year:
Everyone is entitled to a secure home and a good quality of life.
One group of people that have experienced particular problems over the last year are people from EU countries who have been hit hard by both Brexit and COVID - especially those in hospitality jobs.
In response, we have expanded our Greater Manchester Homeless Prevention Service for EU citizens and developed a wider partnership to ensure that no one is left destitute on the streets.
Through the partnership, we have created a pathway from destitution and rough sleeping to settled homes and employment, with the legal right to stay in the UK.
People who are homeless from European Union countries (many of whom lost jobs during COVID) are directed to the Booth Centre where they are helped to get into emergency accommodation provided by Supporting People In Need (as well as other partners, including Riverside and Stepping Stone) and they are then seen by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, who run surgeries at the Booth Centre and Spin and assist with applications for Settled Status.
We run classes to help people improve their English and have a partnership with Business in the Community to help people get back into work.
The project is supported by Manchester City Council, the GM Combined Authority, and Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, who have all shown great flexibility in their approach.
The pathway was designed through co-production with the people themselves, who have experienced the problems of homelessness helping to make sure we designed a system that really works and many have also volunteered at the Booth Centre to help welcome and support new people coming in.
The outcomes have been really significant. In the last 12 months alone, we have helped 279 people who are originally from European countries, some we have been able to prevent from becoming homeless and some we have supported to return to their countries of origin. Of those that were homeless - 82 have got into supported accommodation, 44 have secured employment, and 54 have gained their Settled or Pre-settled status (many more applications are in progress) to enable them to legally stay in the UK. They now have the right to stay in Manchester, to work, and to be a part of our Manchester community, which they have chosen as home.
On his last day working at the Booth Centre Dane, a Social Work student, reflects on his time here.
I first came to the Booth Centre in October 2020 on a 70-day placement as part of the second year of my Social Work degree. Before deciding to go back to university, my background was in sales; an industry that I kind of 'fell into' but never really felt right for me. When I left my last sales role, I got a job working with adults with complex mental health diagnoses to live independently. It was this that inspired me to go down the pathway of Social Work with adults, and a desire to support people who are marginalised by our society and the system(s) that we live under.
When my 70-day placement came to an end I was then very lucky to be taken on to work both part-time (while studying) and full time over the summer. My final year means that I need to do a 100-day placement at a different kind of service, which is sadly why my time at the Booth Centre is coming to an end. I do genuinely wish I could stay.
I’d been involved in campaigning before I came to the Booth Centre, so, felt like I had a relatively good understanding of the homeless situation, particularly in Manchester. However, when I started the placement, I soon realised that my understanding was only the very tip of the iceberg of the homeless/housing crisis in the UK.
On my first day, I saw people who had been street homeless for a number of years alongside people who were in employment but whose wages were not enough to cover stable accommodation; people who were from Manchester to people who had recently arrived and were struggling to navigate the immigration system. This is what first impressed me about the Centre, the diversity of people and situations that it was able to encourage and respond to. Working alongside the diverse range of people who visit the Centre has probably been what I have enjoyed most during my time here. It may sound cliched, but you genuinely don't know what each new day will bring; though what you do know, is that the Booth Centre will go some way towards bringing about positive change in people's lives.
Working at the Booth Centre has also challenged my view of certain things. Prior to coming here, I had never experienced (and so properly valued) the importance of an activities-based setting. Previously, I may have been a bit sceptical about how doing an activity, such as art or gardening, could benefit someone with numerous support needs. I realise now how misguided this was. Seeing the people who access the Centre not just receive the support for their needs on an individual basis, but also gain confidence, improved self-esteem, new skills (and much more!) in a relaxed social setting, is extremely impressive, and quickly made me understand the vital role that working together on activities can play.
It would be impossible for me to write about the Booth Centre and not mention the staff here, who are all amazing! - as soon as I arrived here, I felt a part of something, and have felt supported by all of my colleagues from day one. The broad range of expertise across the team is, for me, what makes it possible for the Centre to be able to work with such a diverse range of people and situations. It can sometimes seem a glib cliche to refer to a staff team or a workplace as a family, but from what I have experienced here at the Booth Centre that may not be far off. Something that highlights this for me was after a particularly challenging morning in the Centre, which put quite a lot of strain on the team, seeing how everyone rallied around to support each other will stay with me. I am certain I have made some friends that I will keep in touch with, and I can only thank each person on the team for the support that they have given me over the last ten months.
To any students who are coming to do their placement here, I would say that you'll go a long way to find a better placement. You will be confronted with a rich range of opportunities to learn, on an almost daily basis. There is much formal learning you'll get the chance to do; from advice around benefits to housing policies; to immigration and mental health. The best thing though is to just be able to work alongside such a diverse group of people and learning about their unique lives and experiences.
To say I will miss the Booth Centre is an understatement! I am excited about my next challenge, but I am also hopeful that someday I will be back to play a part in this incredible service.
Dane Yates, Project Worker
We’re extremely excited to announce that performers from The Booth Centre will return to The Edge Theatre & Arts Centre this September, in the drama group’s first public performances since the start of the pandemic.
The group is run in partnership with The Edge Theatre in Chorlton, with regular drama workshops for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Together we launched The Booth Centre Theatre Company – a unique company producing high-quality theatre, and offering people the chance to get involved in all aspects of running a theatre company.
These drama workshops and performances are an integral part of our service, and offer people a chance to build their confidence and most importantly have fun! Studies have shown that creativity in everyday life increases our overall sense of wellbeing, and we recognise the importance of offering high-quality and meaningful activities. The workshops empower people to try new things, make friends and showcase their talents.
"in the drama group it feels like I am with my family" - Mohammed
The upcoming performance Air is set in the year 2121 when Dougal, a cog tightener on the AIR machine, goes to visit his computer uploaded Gran to learn about the place they called Manchester.
Thursday 9th September 2021 at 7.30pm
Friday 10th September 2021 at 3pm
Saturday 11th September at 3pm
Find more information about the performances and book tickets here.
The Booth Centre has remained open throughout the pandemic, providing essential support and a safe place for people to share their experiences and learn from each other. We have once again redesigned our service to react to the changing landscape of COVID-19.
From the beginning of June, we were able to stop operating in two service ‘bubbles’ so that people coming into the centre can now access both upstairs and downstairs in our building. Everyone has been happy to be able to see each other again, as the ‘bubbles’ meant some people hadn’t crossed paths in months! More people are now able to have breakfast and lunch in our café and access the activities taking place in the Centre.
As well as activities such as gardening, art and drama, we are continuing to support people with accommodation referrals, resettlement applications, qualifications and more. As always, all of this is achieved in partnership with people who attend the centre – who contribute their skills and experience to help us strive for best practice. See the poster below for full details of the current service.
Rigorous COVID-19 measures remain in place to keep our community safe – most people are continuing to wear masks and the Centre is very well ventilated with our double veranda doors opening from our café to our lovely, award-winning garden.
The GP van from the Urban Village Medical Practice visits each Thursday morning so people are able to see the nurse and get their COVID-19 vaccinations. We haven't returned to people queuing up for food, but have retained our table service as it's creating such a nice, relaxed café atmosphere that people are really enjoying, after so long in isolation, as well as helping to retain some social distancing.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our wonderful supporters – you’re helping us to continue our important work during this difficult time.
As the seasons change and the need for severe cold weather provision eases reflection on the previous months will be formalised. This is some of what has been happening in Manchester this winter...
Severe cold weather can be a life-or-death situation for people who rough sleep, in Manchester when the temperature is forecast to drop below zero Manchester City Council and charity partners with additional resource are able to mobilise to get people off the street and provide ongoing support so this is just the first step towards a permanent solution.
Manchester City Council, charities, businesses and volunteers alongside people affected by homelessness form the Manchester Homelessness Partnership. The Partnership work all year to plan and deliver co-ordinated responses to specific challenges, in summer 2019 it was agreed that all emergency accommodation had to meet minimum standards that safeguard physical and mental health. The pandemic accelerated the goal of all emergency accommodation being single room occupancy and the impact of this has been evident in people's wellbeing.
The first cold weather activation for this winter period was on 24th December, when it is activated, charities work together to provide a wraparound service that covers day, night, weekends and even Christmas Day. During cold weather activation all services have a role to play to get everyone into emergency accommodation, we evaluate the response and work with people who were rough sleeping to try and improve it for the future. Always remembering two things; this shouldn’t be happening (one person on the street is too many) and we can always do better.
The Booth Centre and Coffee4Craig (at The Meanwhile) operate the daytime and out of hours hubs. This is where people who sleep rough can be directed to be accommodated. Young people can also be directed to Centrepoint who are also able to refer into emergency accommodation. People are also provided with a phone if they need one so they can be linked in with ongoing support, they are offered food and welfare essentials and then get a taxi to their accommodation.
The referrals into accommodation are all now done electronically which has streamlined the process considerably and has meant more people can get referred directly from the street – this has been important this year as we also have the threat from Covid to deal with. In the city, in the evenings trained staff and volunteers from Coffee4Craig and Men's Room meet at the evening hub before starting their coordinated outreach and the MASH van circulates offering advice and support to women. At weekends Lifeshare operate their breakfast club and are able to refer people into accommodation and do outreach. In South Manchester Reach Out to the Community run outreach in the day and night, again referring people directly from the street and providing a taxi so they can get to their accommodation. Across Manchester, homelessness charities are involved in referring people they work with into accommodation and providing information regarding the hubs; this includes Shelter, Mustard Tree, Centrepoint and On The Out who provide a specialist service for people leaving prison.
Manchester City Council and charities lead outreach work, this is normally done in teams of two or three, with all people being trained in areas such as safeguarding, first aid and mental health. Once someone sleeping on the streets is identified the team will do an assessment of that person's needs, a referral form is completed and sent. A room will then be allocated and a taxi ordered for the person. If the team feel someone needs non-emergency medical attention North West First Aid will attend.
Once in emergency accommodation this is just the start of the journey and services work together to give people the best possible chance of making this step a long term one. Some of the accommodation is staffed full time with support workers from a range of organisations including Riverside, SSG, DePaul or Manchester City Council. Where private hotels are being used then support workers from Barnabus, On The Out and the Mens’ Room visit to provide support. Specialist support for young people is provided by Centrepoint, for women by MASH, for asylum seekers by Boaz Trust and for EU migrants by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and the Booth Centre. The Booth Centre and Barnabus make and deliver food parcels. The Booth Centre also provides activity packs and art materials. Bus tickets are available so people can travel to appointments and services that will guide people in their next steps towards goals such as improved health, permanent accommodation and employment. Change Grow Live, Urban Village Medical Practice and the NHS Mental Health Homeless Team can offer health support. People referred into emergency accommodation are being offered a full homelessness assessment by the Council, to establish if they have a statutory entitlement to rehousing.
By working together, we can support more people to achieve their goals.
Written with Niall Love @McrSalford and thanks to all services for their input.
During the 25 years the Booth Centre has been open the number of women attending has only increased, this rise has been reflected in services nationally. The increases in homelessness over the past decade has disproportionately affected women, and the true figures are difficult to know as women are more likely to be considered hidden homeless – people without a home but not known to any services. Women are also typically more vulnerable when rough sleeping so ensuring services adapt to meet the need of this group is essential.
The Booth Centre Women's Group has been running since we redesigned our service in August – meeting every other week. It has been important to maintain this support group. The group is formed of volunteers and visitors who are experiencing homelessness and chaired by Louise our employment and skills project worker. The upstairs of the Centre is women only for the duration of the meeting and it is a space to talk, reflect, plan, evaluate and a place to feel comfortable and accepted. The group have been instrumental in driving forward inclusive ideas for the Centre and have a lot of plans for when restrictions ease and hope more women will be able to attend.
At the last meeting good news was shared – one person has started an IT course to help them secure employment, another is volunteering at the Booth Centre and is enjoying making breakfast and making people feel welcome and two people from the group are preparing for new tenancies. So a lot of positive steps forward, but not all sessions are filled with this much good news.
To celebrate International Women's Day the group had planned some craft time to relax and be creative. Recognising that writing things down can really help managing and processing emotions and how positive affirmations can support wellbeing. One volunteer from the group led on decorating notebooks to write down thoughts and ideas for the changes about to happen in their lives. Positive affirmations were also used to decorate some photo frames to put up at home or keep safe so everyone can be reminded how fabulous they are. The volunteer wanted everyone to feel special on this celebratory Women's Group session so put together special gift bags for everyone to take away.
The Women's Group would like more female underwear to be donated, we don't have any left and the group would like to put underwear in the gift bags they give out at sessions. Please deliver to the Centre Monday-Friday 9am-3:30pm or buy via our Amazon wishlist. Thank you!