Greater Manchester has become the first city region in the UK to bring together the public, private, faith and community sectors to come behind a single, unified plan to tackle rough sleeping.
The radical plan, to end rough sleeping by 2020 and set out a 10-year vision to tackle all forms of homelessness, has been developed by the Greater Manchester Homelessness Network.
The network was set up by Mayor Andy Burnham 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.
In another UK first, a new business network has also been launched, to give the private sector an enhanced role to develop solutions to rough sleeping.
Andy said: “We can all see that the problem of rough sleeping is getting worse – but here in Greater Manchester our response to this is getting much better.
“One of my key campaign pledges was to end rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020, and there has been real progress over the past nine months. We’ve secured millions of pounds of investment to help people living on the streets to get a roof over their head; all sectors in Greater Manchester are working together more closely than ever before; and we’ve seen a new approach to emergency support in freezing weather which has seen 1,000 extra beds made available this winter.
“But we have so much more to do, which makes this plan so important. This is a real problem, and it’s a growing one. But it’s a problem we can solve together if we’re ambitious, driven and innovative.”
The strategy outlines four “R”s to eradicate rough sleeping:
To prevent rough sleeping in the future, both identifying solutions for people at risk of rough sleeping for the first time and for existing rough sleepers, to prevent a return to the street.
To provide a safe place for people off the street.
To manage issues, to stabilise individuals and to work towards independence through support, wellbeing, life skills and steps towards employment, volunteering, training and education.
To enable individuals to lead meaningful lives with choice and agency in our community.
It is underpinned by a 37-point action plan which sets out the major activity which is being carried out across all sectors in Greater Manchester. It also sets a timeframe for the delivery of the work.
Progress will be monitored by a range of bodies, including academics, charities and policy experts.
In addition to the plan’s publication, a new business network has also been launched to give the private sector an enhanced role in tackling the issue, as well as making it easier for businesses to get involved. It’s hoped that 200 Greater Manchester businesses will be signed up by 2020. The network will be chaired by Tim Heatley, co-owner of Manchester-based property developer Capital & Centric.
Andy added: “We all have a part to play – from the individual who donates time or money to local charities, to public bodies who have a responsibility to support the most vulnerable in our society, to the voluntary organisations who provide vital help and support, to businesses who can bring a different perspective to this issue.
“The private sector’s role is vital, which is why this groundbreaking network is so important. As well as providing the kind of business sense that can lead to innovative solutions, they also have access to resources and places which can help provide respite care and help us accelerate progress. Tim gives us that great perspective and I’m really pleased he is joining us on our journey.”
Tim Heatley said: “Manchester is a global city with community spirit, we’ve proved that we come together when needed the most. Yet, despite efforts, so many of Manchester’s vulnerable people are still sleeping on our city’s streets. While it weighs heavy on our collective conscience that we’ve got to this point, it’s brilliant to see so many organisations – led by the Mayor – pulling together to help.
“The public sector and charities are leading the charge, but Manchester’s private sector will play a pivotal role too. Our business leaders have had the creativity, determination and ingenuity to put Manchester’s industries on the world stage. Hopefully they can apply these talents to, together, transforming the lives of our people without homes. It’s a big ask, but one I’m sure we’re capable of.”
Since being elected, the Mayor has secured £9m of funding to tackle rough sleeping. The range of measures that have been introduced includes:
£7m to extend the ground-breaking Housing First programme to provide housing for 450 people
£1.8m Social Impact Bond granted to help entrenched rough sleepers, with 50 currently in the process and another 200 referred for help
More than £135,000 raised for the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund, which has helped fund a wide variety of projects which help homeless people, such as the opening of a new shelter in Cheetham Hill
More than 500 people registered with their GPs to access vital medical support
A new cold weather plan which sees emergency support given as soon as temperatures hit freezing in a national first
1,000 emergency beds available and used as part of the cold weather plan
However, this work sits against a background of a significant increase in rough sleeping. Figures issued last month saw a national increase in rough sleeping of 15%. In Greater Manchester, this increase was 42%.