“The numbers are going up” as Manchester city council initiate winter plan to aid rough sleepers
- Number of rough sleepers in Manchester is increasing
- Charities worry as costs continue to rise putting strain on services
- Council introduces outreach teams to connect with rough sleepers
Manchester city council have recently announced its plan to help people sleeping rough in Manchester this winter.
Manchester ranks the third-highest city in the country for people experiencing homelessness, with around one in 74 people experiencing it according to Shelter.
Andy Burnham and Manchester city council have been attempting to reduce the numbers since he came into office.
Outreach teams are walking around the city in the early hours of the morning to help connect people with help and provide shelter as temperatures plummet.
Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, Joanna Midgley said: “We know that during periods of particularly cold weather some people sleeping rough who might normally be reluctant to accept help are more receptive to it and this is an important opportunity to reach them.”
‘Last year we served 6000 breakfasts at a rough sleepers’ project, this year we’ve already served over 10,000. The numbers are going up. Our costs continue to rise.‘Abigail Noonan from Lifeshare
These actions come amid comments made by recently sacked home secretary, Suella Braverman saying it is a “lifestyle choice” to be homeless.
The comments have brought into question the governments and local council’s care for the homeless and if all is being done to help.
Rise of Homelessness
While the number of people sleeping rough has fallen since 2017, a rise of 13% to 102 cases occurred last year and the number rose to 145 cases in August of this year.
The council are expecting the number of rough sleepers to rise over the coming winter months too and are putting in place measures to prevent individuals becoming homeless.
It comes as Centrepoint are predicting 24,400 young people, aged between 16 to 24, to be facing homelessness this winter across the UK.
Regarding the rise over the past year, Abigail Noonan from Lifeshare said, “we’re seeing different age demographics, genders, socio-economic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds. There is no stereotype that fits homelessness, this can happen to anyone.”
“Last year we served 6000 breakfasts at a rough sleepers’ project, this year we’ve already served over 10,000. The numbers are going up. Our costs continue to rise. The more support we can get to make our work possible is vital.”
Council Action Plan
While the national benchmark for these emergency action plans is three consecutive nights below freezing, in Manchester emergency accommodation will be made accessible as soon as temperatures go below 0oC.
Etrop Grange is being used to accommodate the homeless with 74 bed spaces available. Specialist mental health support is provided by Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust at Etrop Grange too.
This hostel is currently 10 miles out of the city centre and given the rise in rough sleepers against the limited 74 beds at Etrop Grange it is unclear how effective the councils plan will be.
The Director of the Melissus Project, Sandra Evers said this regarding Etrop Grange: “People have their own communities, support systems and networks within the homelessness community in the city centre.”
She added: “It’s not as if they all migrate to the Etrop centre, so when they’re sent away from the city centre they have no friends and no where to go, sitting on their own depressed. It’s taking away these people’s agency, [and is] systematic oppression of people that don’t have the right to choose where they live.”
‘It all comes down to listening to the people with a lived experience of rough sleeping.‘Abigail Noonan from Lifeshare
Abigail said: “I can only hope that should the need be there that the council will step up. The importance of that can’t be understated. While the action plan is not yet active, it is important to react very quickly to any improvements needed.”
It all comes down to the council and Manchester Homelessness Partnership “listening to the people with a lived experience of rough sleeping,” she said.
Lifeshare Christmas Project
Lifeshare has an annual Christmas project which runs from the 23rd to the 29th December, offering 3 hot meals cooked fresh on site as well as several other services including opticians and hairdressing.
Abigail said the Christmas project is all about letting the homeless “feel celebrated and be valued members of the community.”
To get involved volunteering with Lifeshare’s Christmas Project or to donate to support their work, visit www.lifeshare.org.uk