Manchester Homelessness Charter has been in progress for 1 year and 5 months since May 2016. It calls for everyone that lives, works or studies in Manchester to get behind the mission to End Homelessness in our city.
The partnership includes charities, grassroots groups, city leaders, faith groups, businesses, Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups.
What is the charter
Manchester Homelessness Charter is a mission and set of values, written by people experiencing homelessness and frontline organisations. It sets how people should be treated and how the city intends to deal with the homelessness by working in partnership.
The charter values apply to everyone who is either homeless or at risk, who have the right to:
- A safe, secure home, along with an appropriate level of support, to create a good quality of life.
- Safety from violence, abuse, theft and discrimination, and the full protection of the law.
- Respect, and to receive a good standard of service everywhere.
- Equality of access to information and services.
- Equality of opportunities for employment, training, volunteering, leisure and creative activities.
It also calls for those who agree with these values to make a pledge to demonstrate their support, taking positive action to bring about this change. All pledges should involve making a commitment to doing something new to tackle homelessness in the city.
The Manchester Homelessness Charter is primarily aimed at organisations, but individuals can get involved too. Anyone who wants to help people who are homeless get off the streets can adopt the charter and make a pledge at charter.streetsupport.net.
What it aims to tackle
While there have been many strides towards tackling the critical problems of homelessness and poverty in Greater Manchester, this initiative helps to unite different parts of the system together under a common mission.
There are lots of people willing and ready to help, but it can be hard to know what to do to be effective, and resources and efforts are dissipated. Manchester Homelessness Charter seeks to provide connection and co-ordination between the network.
The action groups
There are several action groups devoted to tackling particular challenges that came out of the consultation for the charter. The groups bring together people with lived experience of these issues, with professionals and people with learned experience, to co-produce solutions.
The action groups include the following priority areas:
- Improving mental health provision
- Increasing emergency accommodation
- Creating indoor evening provision
- Increasing employment opportunities
- Drastically improving substandard temporary accommodation
- Big Change initiative to provide practical support as an alternative to street giving
- Youth action initiative focusing on experiences for young people.
Successes so far
The partnership and the charter has been inspiring and productive so far. Successes include:
- The launch of the Manchester Homelessness Charter and action groups
- Involvement of over 100 people with lived experience of homelessness in co-producing solutions and services, and in recruitment of city council homelessness staff.
- Big Change has helped more than 400 people and raised over £110,000
- Evening services were co-designed through the action group and now operate 7 nights a week.
- 2 additional faith based night shelters for homeless people with low support needs.
- The introduction of a new prevention service at the town hall which works with people to identify alternative solutions to prevent homelessness.
- The creation of a landlord forum to help bring about change in housing practices
- A new subgroup focusing on prison leavers
- CityCo have held sessions to help the private sector understand homelessness and rough sleeping, and to encourage business support
Challenges to overcome
Of course, homelessness is still a huge issue in the city, with more people arriving every week. Some of the current challenges include:
- Needing more move on accommodation catering for different needs
- There’s currently limited capacity within the partnership to support it (no paid staff)
- We need more resources to create meaningful involvement for people with lived experience of homelessness
- We would love more people who are homeless to learn about the Big Change and to apply for support
- We need to avoid duplication and to continue to co-ordinate our efforts.
Jez Green from Mustard Tree led the initial consultation for the charter and has been involved throughout…
“It has been a great privilege for me to be involved with the Manchester Homelessness Partnership since its beginnings. While there remain enormous challenges in overcoming homelessness and its related issues in Manchester, I am constantly encouraged by the passion and enthusiasm that our many partners bring to creating solutions and to working together. The successes and progress we have seen can be credited to following our core values – the meaningful inclusion of people directly affected by homelessness in every part of our work, and strong, inclusive partnerships with anyone who wants to help tackle homelessness in our city.”
– Jez Green, Partnerships Coordinator, Mustard Tree
On World Homelessness Day, we’re highlighting the partnerships and the charter as important steps towards tackling the growing problem of homelessness in Greater Manchester.
It provides an innovative and important model for other cities to follow as they struggle to address similar problems.