Manchester is not alone in seeing an increase in rough sleepers and homelessness - nationally there has been an increase of 30% in rough sleeping over the last 5 years, and increased pressure on homelessness services country-wide. We are working hard to address the problem.
In Manchester, over 5,500 people approached the city council's Homelessness Prevention and Advisory Service in the 12 months to the end of July 2015.
The main reasons for the dramatic rise in numbers are the government's welfare reforms - which have withdrawn or reduced support to thousands of people in the city - and also the growing lack of affordable housing. With further planned welfare cuts and the forced sell off off social housing, the numbers will continue to grow.
Homelessness is a complex issue. Not everyone that you see on Manchester’s streets is unsupported.
- Some rough sleepers need ongoing support to move them away from the streets - this can take time but it doesn’t mean that our services are not working with them
- Some have been offered accommodation or other support many times but have been unwilling or unable to take that help - we cannot force people to receive our services
- Some are street beggars who already have accommodation elsewhere
- Some already have accommodation available to them and choose to sleep on the streets - because they are protesting for example
- Some cannot access housing or benefits due to their immigration status - legally we may be prevented from helping them
- Not all people on the streets are from Manchester. There are people from Greater Manchester, all over the UK, and from other countries. Manchester is a large vibrant city and can attract people who feel safer with higher numbers of other rough sleepers. We cannot always persuade people to return to where they came from.
The number of people recorded as sleeping rough on the streets in England on any one night in 2014/15 is 2,714 - a 55% rise on 2010. Official figures from Manchester's 2015 headcount suggest there are around 70 but we think a more accurate figure is closer to 200. Approximately 25% of these are EU / EEA nationals who have found themselves out of work, lost their worker status and all access to benefits and been left on the streets.
At the same time, local authority budgets have been cut dramatically. Manchester City Council has faced a cut of £380 million from its budget under the current government, with another £75 million cuts expected to come in the next two years.
Despite this, we're doing all we can in Manchester to support those who need assistance and who are sleeping rough on our streets. We work with 19 providers delivering 36 separate schemes, housing a total of 493 homeless people and providing floating support or tenancy training to a further 487 at risk people.
There are 3 specialist services in the city for rough sleepers, provided by the Salvation Army, Sanctuary Supported Living and Riverside Housing. These provide beds for a total of 126 rough sleepers. We opened new emergency overnight provision over the winter period to give rough sleepers still on the streets somewhere to go during the coldest weather, providing 180 beds. This winter service came to an end in March 2016 and everyone who was accommodated was offered further accommodation elsewhere so that no one had to go back to the streets.
Manchester City Council's in-house schemes have 277 beds for single homeless people across different schemes. This includes dozens of new beds brought online in recent months.
From September 2015 to August 2016 Manchester City Council will provide £530,000 through the Homelessness Prevention Grant to 5 organisations working to prevent and reduce homelessness and rough sleeping in the city - The Mustard Tree, Manchester Action on Street Health, The Booth Centre and Business in the Community, Young People's Support Foundation and Riverside Housing.
Your city centre councillors are constantly in communication with council officers and partner agencies to ensure that all possible support that can be given is being provided to those who need it.
As a result of growing numbers, the council recently reviewed its rough sleepers strategy to ensure the best possible service can be provided. We are working on a new Homelessness Charter which will be launched in May 2016 and recently launched an alternative giving scheme to allow residents to directly support charities working on the frontline. City centre councillors are closely involved with this work. If you'd like to give us your views please get in touch with the team.
Where to go for advice, information and support
If you or someone you know is at risk of homelessness or you or someone you know is sleeping rough, don't delay in accessing the services available locally.
- Homelessness Prevention and Advisory Service
All homeless people can contact the HPAS which is based in the Customer Service Centre in the Town Hall Extension.
People can present directly to the service between 9.00am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday. They will be given advice about their situation and steps they can take to either keep their existing accommodation or resolve their homelessness, including making a formal application for assistance under the homelessness legislation.
People can also phone the HPAS between 9.00am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday for advice. The phone number is 0161 234 4692. Alternatively they can e-mail email@example.com.
Outside office hours, the Council’s emergency service can be contacted on 0161 234 5001.
- 16 and 17 year olds
The City Council commissions a specialist service for homeless 16 and 17 year olds. The service is delivered by the Young People’s Support Foundation at the City Centre Project on Oldham Street (0161 228 7654).
Unaccompanied children under 16 should be referred to Children’s Services on 0161 234 5001.
- Domestic abuse
Women experiencing domestic violence can also contact the Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525. The phone line operates between 10.00am - 4.00pm Monday - Friday (to 7pm on Tuesday). There is a 24 hour National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247.
- Rough sleepers
If you see someone sleeping rough you can telephone the Rough Sleepers Team on 0161 234 5339 or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will need the location of the rough sleeper along with a basic description with a time and date. Manchester City Council has five staff out on the streets every day dedicated to working with rough sleepers, plus we fund two more from the voluntary sector.
The Rough Sleepers Team will arrange for an outreach worker from Manchester City Council or a partner agency to visit the site and engage with the rough sleeper.
The outreach worker will establish if the person is a rough sleeper or not. They will be provided advice and support to access emergency accommodation. If they have accommodation they will be given advice and support to return to that accommodation.
Following the work to accommodate the rough sleeper the Rough Sleepers Team will arrange with the Neighbourhood Delivery Team to have the site cleared.
Feedback will be provided to the person or organisation who reported the rough sleeper.
If your enquiry is outside of office hours you can contact the Manchester City Council out of hours service to report your concerns on 0161 234 5001.
Many rough sleepers may find it difficult to engage with statutory services and, although they can be referred to HPAS, they could also be advised to visit one of the day centres in the city who will help them access services:
- The Booth Centre, Edward Holt House, Pimblett Street, M3 1FU. Tel: 0161 835 2499 / Website: www.boothcentre.org.uk - we recently provided funded to expand the work of the Booth Centre to act as a hub
- City Centre Project (details above) (young people aged 16-25). Website: www.ypsf.co.uk
Work for 2016
- Mobilising the city: The Manchester Homelessness Charter is being launched on 9th May 2016. This asks all residents, workers and organisations in the city to play their part by make specific pledges to support action to end homelessness.
- Big Change campaign: The Council strongly supports this campaign launched through the voluntary sector to encourage the public to change the way they give from on-street donations and cash, to a fund which individual homeless people can access to get the help they need. It has raised £8,500 so far. The campaign will accelerate in 2016. www.bigchangemcr.co.uk
- New integrated city centre approach for rough sleepers and beggars. A joint team including GMP, the rough sleeper team, and UK border agency will work in a systematic way to address begging and street homelessness in the city centre
- Planning for winter 2016/7: An Action Group under the Manchester Homelessness Charter will be working on plans for next winter, involving people with experience of using this year’s overnight provision.
- Business and University summits: Strategic work is taking place with businesses in the city and all university partners to maximise the contribution these sectors make to addressing the challenges of homelessness.
What about the £115 million the Chancellor announced for rough sleepers in the budget?
We are waiting for more detail about this money to determine whether it is new money and how it will be allocated - the Chancellor stated that ‘particularly’ London would benefit, although 74% of rough sleepers are outside of the capital.
What is the best way residents can help?
If residents want to donate to help rough sleepers to get long term support get off the streets they can:
- Donate to Big Change - a partnership fundraising campaign across Manchester - find out more at www.bigchangemcr.co.uk
- Donate goods and services to the charities and groups currently working with Manchester’s rough sleepers.
- Donate time by volunteering with one of Manchester’s many groups and charities. Find out more at www.streetsupport.net