Listening To The Voices of Experience

People with experience of being homeless met to discuss the current homelessness situation in Manchester

The first meeting of people with direct experience of homelessness in Manchester took place at the Mustard Tree, May 24th.  The meeting was well attended and a rich and lively discussion followed, covering a variety of topics some of which are currently being looked at by the MHP (Manchester Homelessness Partnership) and The MHP Action Groups.

Mental health and homelessness was discussed and some of the issues mentioned are currently being looked into by the Mental Health Action Group. For example why are people being discharged from Mental Health Care if they have nowhere to go? Also the need for education concerning some of the barriers people who are migrant often face. 

Much of the rest the day was taken up discussing things the new group can work on independently, for example a name for the group, and also things that the MHP could action.

Main points as follows:

  • There are currently no action groups concerning addiction/substance misuse and this was one of the main issues faced by people experiencing homelessness. Should addiction/substance misuse be more incorporated into the already pre-existing groups or does a separate group need to be formed to tackle substance or alcohol misuse, addiction and recovery?
  • Does there need to be a separate group concerning veterans. Perhaps Walking with the Wounded could be invited to the action groups? Also does there need to be an action group concerning begging and the many implications this brings to those experiencing homelessness.
  • It was agreed there should be activities co-designed by the action groups at drop-in centres and perhaps incorporated into their weekly schedules. Action groups could be hosted at drop-in centres, encouraging more people with experience of homelessness to be involved whose voices have not yet been heard?
  • Many people are now uncomfortable with the term ‘lived experience’. Does this need to be replaced?  Perhaps just calling people who have experience of homelessness at some stage of their lives, ‘people’?

There were of course challenges throughout the day, as with any other meeting dealing with contentious issues, but this is seen as a positive learning experience. All the above thinking originated from a group of people that have experienced homelessness and these notes are in no way doctored or influenced by any other opinion or that of any facilitator or guide.

If you have experienced homelessness yourself, or know someone who has and want to become involved, we’d love to hear from you.

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