It is now 12 weeks since the launch of the Manchester Homelessness Charter, and time to reflect on progress so far and the challenges ahead…
Over 100 pledges have been made from across organisations, businesses, faith groups and individuals. You can see some of the recent major pledges in the charter progress section of the website. Pledges range from including people with lived experience in the design of services, to improving access to facilities, to offering money or resources.
The charter driving group has been following up with as many of the organisation and business pledges as they can, advising and supporting on action towards our common vision of a city without homelessness. In the next phase we aim to support people who have experienced homelessness to be part of this process.
If you haven’t already pledged, or you can think of a business or organisation that might have something to offer, you can still make a pledge here.
Action Group Updates
The action groups are set up, and at various stages in their development. We aim for each group to have 2 co-chairs, one person with lived experience of homelessness, and the other with relevant professional expertise. Representatives from each group have attended training on co-production and are now working together on building relationships, agreeing objectives, understanding key challenges and creating a shared vision for the future.
Here are some brief headlines from each group…
Emergency Accommodation: The group have agreed that their main aims are to ensure that rough sleepers have rapid access to good quality emergency accommodation, and that there are clear pathways into further good quality accommodation. There is a real drive for this to be in place by October 2016 to ensure that people do not have to sleep on the streets during winter. A minimum standards list has already been drafted, and plans to train ‘mystery shoppers’ are underway. The group are looking for organisations to provide storage solutions, and for more faith buildings or community centres to get involved in the rolling GM winter night shelter for 2016.
Women’s Direct Access: The Women’s Direct Access Hostel has now been closed for refurbishment (with the hostel residents having been moved to an alternative temporary building). Work is underway with the staff team and the architects making use of the expertise of the current residents and other women who have experience of homelessness to ensure that the designs will deliver a much improved service when the building re-opens before Christmas.
Evening Services: The evening services group have had two meetings, and are now visiting services to engage a range of people with experience on homelessness in designing the service that they want to see. The group have produced a survey to gather feedback and ideas, and are focusing on involving more rough sleepers and people with lived experience into the group.
Presenting as Homeless: The Homeless Presentations group has had several productive meetings which have brought together people with experience of presenting as homeless at the Town Hall with front line staff, managers at the town hall and support agencies. There is general agreement in the group that the process, the customer experience and the physical set up could all be improved and they have started work on identifying what and how these changes can be made.
Arts and Heritage: This group are looking at opportunities for arts and homelessness organisations to work together in the city to combat homelessness and its underlying causes. The initial gathering brought together a wide-ranging collective of arts and cultural institutions in the city, independent artists, creative industries, charities working within the arts and people with lived experience of homelessness. Their next gathering is a banner making workshop at People’s History Museum to ascertain their co-produced outcomes for the group. (Read more from the arts and heritage group)
Substandard Temporary Accommodation: The B&B action group has come together in order to address the hidden and complex issue of substandard temporary accommodation. Many tenants report issues around conditions, costs, worsening mental and physical health and a general lack of control in their lives. The group is working towards compiling a directory of accommodation that can be shared across agencies and their tenants.
Mental Health: There has been a keen level of interest from both people with lived experience and professional expertise in being involved, but it has been a challenge to find someone able to lead the group. This is a complex issue, with a lot of uncertainty and change around statutory services, so it will be a real challenge that needs considerable time and effort. We are very happy to report that Paul Pandolfo from Inspiring Change Manchester will now co-chair this group, alongside an individual with experience of homelessness and mental health issues.
Employment Opportunities: The Employment Action Group aims to challenge perceptions of people with a homeless background, and build new pathways into work. They want to encourage local business to step up and be a part of the solution by supporting people into work. They are particularly keen to hear from businesses who are recruiting into entry level jobs as we have talented people who are suitable for roles in: Office admin, construction and gardening, facilities management, retail and customer services, warehousing and distribution, and hospitality and catering. (Read more from the employment opportunities group)
Big Change Initiative: The Big Change fund has now supported 3 people into homes, and has supported 12 individuals to help them away move away from the streets. A total of £3940 has been awarded through the grants. The group are working on communication ideas to spread the word about the fund, and will continue to investigate alternatives to begging.
Another important role for the driving group is to support people who are homeless to develop the skills and confidence to fully engage and take leading roles in this initiative. An initial workshop has been planned at The Booth Centre, to discuss the experience so far and find out what further support is needed.
There are over 40 fantastic organisations supporting people who are homeless in Manchester, but there are still many challenges. Find out how you can help, or volunteer your time and resources through the Help section.
(We would welcome volunteers to write content around the Charter & Homelessness in Manchester, so we can keep everyone informed – please get in touch if you can help.)
You can follow latest updates in the Charter News section, with much more to follow in the coming weeks.
Thanks for your support,
Manchester Homelessness Partnership