Last Wednesday we hosted a conversation with young people who are experiencing homelessness and front line workers from a range of services across Greater Manchester.
One of the primary objectives was to discuss how we might build stronger relationships & make space for conversation between young people and front line services in Greater Manchester. We heard about some of the challenges young people are facing, some fantastic initiatives & local organisations, but still people falling between the gaps in services, unable to get the support they need.
Attendees included Beth Knowles from the GM Mayor’s homelessness team alongside representatives from organisations including Lifeshare, Centrepoint, DePaul, The Men’s Room, Manchester Young Lives, Great Places, Roar Pursuits, GMHA and GM Law Centre, Manchester City Council & Tameside councils.
Perhaps what was most inspiring was the fact that out of 24 attendees, 12 individuals in the room had personal experience of homelessness.
Those in the room challenged us to work together more closely saying: “stop passing me around services, I need to know where to go and who are the right people to help me” and “we need you to be in partnership with each other – and to build a community”. We also heard how some young people who had been asked for what they would change didn’t feel able to contribute because they didn’t have a clear understanding of the current system and services.
PlantNOMA kindly offered a great space for us to use, and although we only had 90 minutes to start discussing such a complex range of issues, we made good progress together.
Through a series of activity sessions, we identified key areas in which action could be taken. These are as follows:
- Independent research: Gather & share existing research, co-produce independent / peer led research across GM.
- Capacity building – Clearly map and explain the current system, get training in participation, speaking & influencing.
- Influencing decisions – Pathways mapping, co-producing the GM strategy for young people, influencing decision makers.
- Diverse voices – Sharing information, gathering stories & ideas, peer interviews, arts based engagement.
- Young-person led events – Explore ideas for events led by young people.
- Online information – Improving access to information online, sharing research and experiences, communication.
Working groups are being set up around these themes and we already have some young people and organisations signed up to be part of them. Specific details about these action groups can be found in the GM Youth Forum Overview which will be updated as things progress.
You can also keep track of the progress we make by joining the group mailing list. If you would like to find out more about one of the groups or get involved, please contact Olie at email@example.com.
Creating inclusive spaces in which young people can share their experiences and ideas around homelessness, as well as playing a role in facilitating these actions and influencing GM strategy and national policy, is crucial with regards to tackling the issues young people are facing. We are also aware that not everyone feels able or willing to come to this kind of event, and part of the next steps will be to find other ways to talk to a more diverse range of young people.
For anyone who has experienced homelessness/are experiencing homelessness or are frontline service workers that have something to say but would prefer to retain their anonymity, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I conducted some research prior to the event and spoke to young people that didn’t want to attend the event but provided fascinating insight).
In sum, it was a positive start, during which some people were able to vent, others were able to make suggestions but, ultimately, we all came together in sharing the clear mission to tackle homelessness. Please stay tuned and get in touch if you would like to know more.