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  • The double-decker used by Tinie Tempah and Mumford & Sons will provide 14 beds all year round to Manchester's homeless.

    A pioneering initiative to transform a double-decker tour bus into temporary accommodation for the homeless is set to be launched in Manchester.

    The vehicle – used by big names in the music industry including Sam Smith, Tinie Tempah, David Guetta and Mumford & Sons – will have a second life as accommodation with 14 beds, two lounges and a kitchen, as well as storage space.

    By providing beds all year round it will offer 5,110 nights’ sleep for the homeless over the first year.

    It is the idea of former youth worker Sid Williams and his wife Tess.

    They have set up Stockport-based charity Embassy, which takes delivery of the bus in Junes, to bridge the gap for Greater Manchester’s homeless while they seek secure permanent accommodation.

    Guests will be referred by partner agencies to the bus, which will be parked securely overnight at Manchester City Mission.

    It will be fully managed and staffed, with the aim to tap into a network of Manchester businesses who could offer full time employment during their stay.

    The bus will be parked at Stagecoach’s depot during the day with the bus company offering this service free of charge.

    The first vehicle will cater specifically for vulnerable men with the hope that more vehicles could be brought into the fleet subject to funding.

    Sid said: "A safe place to sleep and rest is the most basic of needs, but many people who find themselves homeless have been deprived of that. You can’t face the process of finding a permanent home when you are exhausted and living hour to hour.

    "The bus is a quick way to provide safe and comfortable beds, adding to the city’s provision. Once people are there, they’ll be able to make useful connections with agencies, businesses and churches who could change their future, providing support into permanent homes and full-time employment."

    Capital&Centric, a property and regeneration business, has donated half of the money needed to buy the vehicle and is backing the charity in its fundraising drive to cover the £100,000-per-year running costs.

    Tim Heatley, Capital&Centric co-founder and chair of Andy Burnham’s Business Network for the Homeless, said: "We need pragmatic and cost-effective solutions to helping our homeless and rough sleepers. When Sid set out his vision for the Embassy bus project we were sold, we knew we had to get behind it.

    "Businesses have a role to play in seeking out these creative ideas and making them happen. I’ll be encouraging that as part of the Business Network, but I’m leading by example with my own business, putting our hand in our pocket.

    "The bus will become a lifeline for those in the city that need rest, support and a route back into a community that cares."

  • Today it’s a derelict hulk – but these newly-released pictures show what life was once like inside the stunning Littlewoods Building in Edge Lane.

    The building has been empty for years, but owner Capital & Centric is now planning to turn it into a film and TV production centre.

    It was opened in 1938 by Littlewood Pools and once housed thousands of workers checking millions of pools coupons.

    Ahead of its transformation, Capital & Centric is trying to prepare a “people’s history” of the building and those who worked there.

    It’s already compiled some pictures, including these here from the National Football Museum.

    Now developer John Moffat of Capital & Centric is appealing for anyone who worked or visited the site to share their memories of the famous building.

    The building was home to Littlewoods and sister businesses from 1938 until the mid-90s.

    It also played a key role in Britain’s war effort, with the factory producing parts for aircraft including Wellington and Lancaster bombers.

    Mr Moffat says he wants to see people’s stories, photographs and mementos from the building.

    He said: “When people find out we’re the team behind Littlewoods Studios, everyone stops to tell us their own unique memories. The building, quite rightly, holds a special place in a lot of hearts across the city.

    “We’re giving the building a new life, transforming it into a hub for film and TV that will be known around the world. But it’s just as important to us that we recognise its rich heritage as well as looking to a bright future.

    “I hope people take up the challenge to tell us their stories … the quirkier the better. We’re looking to weave these memories into our work to bring the building back into use for generations to come. We’ve already had some great memories shared with us, but we want far more.”

    Capital & Centric is working with Liverpool council to turn the building and the area around it into the “Pinewood of the North”.

    New studios could be built on land next to the old building, while the 1930s landmark itself would house supporting staff, potentially including technicians and set designers.

    * Anyone who wants to get in touch with Capital & Centric should email memories@capitalandcentric.com

    You can also send a letter – no stamp required – to:

    Littlewoods Memories

    FREEPOST - RTXY-USYY-HAXE

    Sevendale House,

    5-7 Dale Street,

    Manchester,

    M1 1JA

  • Generous donations of mattresses and bedding from Greater Manchester businesses mark the latest step in the city-region’s coordinated and sustained efforts to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

    The past week has seen a joined-up approach swing into action as those most in need faced freezing temperatures and life-threatening weather conditions.

    New facilities opened across the city-region as temperatures hit freezing with an unprecedented number of referrals to shelters and other accommodation, while the new Homelessness Business Network began to co-ordinate the private sector’s response.

    Now mattress manufacturer Leesa Sleep Europe has offered 25 new memory foam single size mattresses free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, and are willing to deliver to sites across the city-region at their own expense.

    Meanwhile property developers Capital & Centric responded to calls for donations by giving 30 sleeping mats and 30 sleeping bags to organisations delivering emergency provision.

    Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the donations, saying it demonstrates how everyone can come together to do their part to end homelessness and rough sleeping.

    Andy added: “It is important to pay tribute to all those people who worked tirelessly last week and made a vital difference. It has been a uniquely tough and demanding seven days and I am proud of Greater Manchester’s coordinated and concerted effort to pull together to help those most in need.

    “Tackling the humanitarian crisis that is our homelessness and rough sleeping epidemic needs to involve the public, private and third sectors. Last month I announced a new Homelessness Business Network, launched to give the private sector an enhanced role in tackling the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping, as well as making it easier for businesses to get involved.

    “Generous and forward-thinking donations such as Leesa’s and Capital & Centric’s will make a real, instant impact and it is gratifying to see this kind of involvement from such organisations.”

    Tim Heatley, chair of the newly-established Homelessness Business Network and co-owner of Manchester-based property developer Capital & Centric, said: “It is acts of generosity like this that the Business Network will encourage.

    “The mattresses are a great start and will pave the way for our work with the wider business community to encourage some really creative responses.”

    Greater Manchester’s Homelessness Action Network recently published a radical plan to end rough sleeping by 2020.This also forms the foundation of a new 10-year vision to tackle all forms of homelessness.

    The Network was set up by Andy following his election last May and is a partnership of charities, businesses, local authorities, the public sector, people with experience of homelessness, the faith sector and other Greater Manchester organisations.

    As the Beast From the East and Storm Emma made life doubly difficult for Greater Manchester’s homeless and rough sleeping populations, accommodation was opened in locations as diverse as fire stations in Tameside and central Manchester, churches across the city-region and Oldham’s EIC UKIM Mosque, with donations from other mosques funding transportation to the site.

    And the Mayor is able to confirm a grant of £5,000 from the Homelessness Fund to the outreach charity Coffee4Craig, which coordinates volunteers supplying food and toiletries to those living on the street. The amount is matched by £5,000 to The Wellspring Stockport, which in its history has supported over 1,500 rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation.

    On Tuesday, March 6, Greater Manchester became a Vanguard City,recognised by The Institute of Global Homelessness alongside Adelaide in Australia and Edmonton in Canada as a city working to eradicate or reduce rough sleeping by 2020. Some 10 additional cities across six continents are expected announce their participation in the coming months.

    In December the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund, an important part of Greater Manchester’s efforts to end rough sleeping, announced a running total of £135,000.

    To make a donation or find out more about the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/GM-Mayoral-Fund

    Organisations are encouraged to apply for Leesa mattresses as soon as possible by using the following email address and entering ‘Homeless Cold Weather Mattress’ into the subject line: enquiries@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk

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