THE NUMBER of people sleeping on the streets of Greater Manchester, based on a single night snapshot, has fallen for the fourth year in a row, as Mayor Andy Burnham hails the success of preventative approaches to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.
Last night (Thursday 25 November) and early this morning, teams working across all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester recorded a combined total of 89 people sleeping on the streets. While the figure requires full verification, this indicates a 29 per cent fall on last year’s total of 125. Rough sleeping across the city-region as a whole has now fallen by 67 per cent since 2017.
This is the first year since 2013 that the number of people sleeping rough has fallen below 100.
The reduction in people forced to sleep rough is a testament to the success of initiatives such as A Bed Every Night, Housing First, and the co-ordinated response of the public sector and community organisations throughout almost two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
Supporting people across Greater Manchester
At the same time the count was carried out, around 600 people were being accommodated by Greater Manchester’s A Bed Every Night scheme, introduced by the Mayor to provide shelter and personal support on an emergency basis to people who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets. Twenty-one organisations across the city-region provide accommodation through A Bed Every Night, including specific provision for women, LGBTQ+ people, those with pets, and people with No Recourse to Public Funds.
Since last July, 1,909 people have moved on from A Bed Every Night accommodation to other settings, including social housing, supported housing or the private rented sector.
Housing First, the pilot scheme which provides people with homes and person-centred, trauma-informed support, has also helped 269 people in Greater Manchester into secure tenancies.
The announcement of this year’s figures comes as the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity launches a new winter campaign to raise £30,000 to fund 1,000 places in A Bed Every Night shelters over Christmas.
People and businesses can donate to the campaign at justgiving.com/campaign/1000beds or by using one of the contactless tap-to-donate points across the city-region to give £3.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “What these figures show is that, despite the intense pressures of the past two years, our ground-breaking approach to rough sleeping and homelessness is working and making a real difference for thousands of people.
“Thanks to the tireless work of council teams and volunteers across Greater Manchester, we’re providing safe and secure accommodation for people every night, and linking them up with personalised support to help turn things around. That wrap-around provision is creating a steady platform for people to get back on their feet, and with continued support and funding we can make sure it’s there wherever, whenever, and for whoever needs it.
“While all of these measures treat the symptoms, we need to do more to address the causes. The Kerslake Commission said the Government should be building on the positive impact of its Everyone In policy, and I welcome the funding for accommodation and support services announced in the Budget. But if we really want to end rough sleeping by 2024, we have to get serious about the fact that homelessness represents a failure of multiple levels of the system. We need ongoing support for A Bed Every Night and Housing First made permanent.
“Real progress is being made, but 89 people out on the streets of Greater Manchester on a cold night in November is still 89 too many. While we celebrate this progress, we will not rest until we have eradicated the need for rough sleeping from our city-region.”
Preventing homelessness and rough sleeping
Earlier this year Greater Manchester Leaders adopted the city-region’s first ever Homelessness Prevention Strategy. The Strategy was co-produced with people who have lived experience of rough sleeping and homelessness, and builds on the successes of programmes like A Bed Every Night to set out a long-term vision for addressing the complex circumstances and causes of these issues.
Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford and Greater Manchester’s Lead for Homelessness, said: “During the pandemic, the Government’s Everyone In scheme accelerated the work we’ve already been doing across Greater Manchester to cut homelessness and rough sleeping. It showed that with the right combination of investment and political will, we can get people in from the cold and connect them to personalised support that meets their needs. There is a real risk that if we lose that momentum this progress will be undone, especially given the cost-of-living crisis the country is currently facing, and the chronic under-supply of truly affordable housing.
“We also have concerns about the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the way that it has affected our communities – especially people in the most precarious positions. The true impact of the furlough scheme, the eviction ban, and the ending of the Universal Credit uplift haven’t been fully felt yet. That’s why our focus is on tackling the structural inequalities that left some people much more exposed to the shocks of a national health crisis. Our Homelessness Prevention Strategy was informed by the lived experiences of people involved in its production, and it sets out a collaborative, integrated approach to addressing the wider determinants of homelessness and rough sleeping in Greater Manchester.”
Through its Street Engagement Hub, Greater Manchester Police has been working alongside Manchester City Council to identify people in need of help, giving them access to first aid, mental health support, and assistance to access accommodation.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: “Greater Manchester Police is dedicated to helping and protecting the most vulnerable members of our society.
"As part of this work, we have introduced a number of measures, including a dedicated Street Engagement Team, which involves integrated work with key stakeholders from the public, private, and charity sector. This partnership has proven critical to delivering successful harm reduction and interventions across the sector.
“The team collaborates to deliver the Street Engagement Hub in Manchester, operating twice a week from the Mustard Tree which is enhanced further by a mobile street engagement service. The mobile service allows us to reach out to wider neighbourhoods across Manchester and engage with vulnerable members of our community to understand their needs, provide support, and remove barriers to accessing services.
“GMP would like to recognise and thank the significant work done by our key partners in developing and delivering the support across Manchester, in particular the charitable organisations who have tirelessly continued to support people in challenging circumstances throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”
Greater Manchester conducts regular rough sleeper counts across the city-region. The national rough sleeper count takes place across one night every year, and the data collected are submitted to Government for verification and will be used to inform decision-making around homelessness and rough sleeping.
Article Published: 26/11/2021 13:25 PM