In a series of UK firsts to address homelessness, Greater Manchester has come together to announce radical proposals to save lives as winter draws in, made possible by strong partnership working between Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the 10 councils, public services, business and the third sector.
Hundreds of rough sleepers will have the chance to start a new life off the streets in a £1.8m scheme which is to be agreed between private funders, housing providers, and the public and voluntary sectors.
The newly-established Greater Manchester Homes Partnership will work with ‘entrenched rough sleepers’ – people who have regularly slept rough over the past two years and/or are well known to homelessness services – over a three-year period.
They will be given intensive support to be able to sustain a tenancy in one of 270 homes to be made available by 15 of Greater Manchester’s housing providers and two private rented sector partners. They will also be given the concentrated emotional and practical support they need to access the right kind of targeted health, training and employment services.
It is a UK first, as it represents the broadest range of partners that have ever come together for a government-backed initiative of this type, and it’s the biggest of its type outside London.
Meanwhile, Greater Manchester’s councils have radically changed the way in which the city-region provides emergency support in cold weather. Greater Manchester has now become the first major metropolitan area in the country where emergency help will be available to rough sleepers as soon as the temperature drops below zero. Currently, local councils have a legal requirement to provide enhanced support following three nights of sub-zero temperatures.
But – following a ground-breaking agreement between all 10 councils – these emergency measures will now come into place after just one night of cold weather. It’s believed to be the first time that all councils in a major metropolitan area have come together to set such an agreed standard.
Homelessness experts believe this new approach will save lives because rough sleepers will get emergency help much earlier than the legal minimum requires. Specific measures are decided locally in each borough, but include opening emergency homeless centres where beds, showers and support is provided.
Local councils have also agreed to grant homeless people free access to documents which are necessary to secure housing, such as birth certificates.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “As winter draws in, it is vital that the right support is there for people who are sleeping on our streets. These measures are ground-breaking and genuinely innovative. It shows that Greater Manchester is leading the way when it comes to helping those in the direst of need.
“This also shows the power of partnership as none of this would be possible without the leadership which has been shown by our 10 local councils, other public bodies, housing providers and both the private and voluntary sectors. These measures will save lives this winter, and are an important step towards ending rough sleeping in Greater Manchester for good.
“In terms of the cold weather policy which has been agreed across Greater Manchester, I would call on other city-regions to follow suit and follow the great example set here.”