We hope you are all safe and staying well under the current circumstances. We appreciate that the strain on you, as well as the people you serve, is unprecedented – thank you again for your continued work under these conditions.
There has been progress on trying to meet immediate needs around food, support and accommodation since the last update, but unfortunately due to the scale of demands, there is still much more to do. Below is a roundup of key updates and information from the GMCA and GMHAN this week.
Since last Wednesday (25th March), over 500 people have been re-accommodated into safer accommodation where they can socially distance and self-isolate if needed. The vast majority of this has been organised within Local Authorities, using statutory temporary accommodation, newly sourced accommodation, local hotels, and a sped-up move on into people’s own tenancy. A small number of people have accessed the ‘GM alternative accommodation provision’, however this is due to grow as the ability to meet demand in local accommodation lessens.
There remains huge challenges in supporting people rough sleeping with multiple and complex needs inside the new accommodations. This has multiple facets but the most pressing issues are health and safeguarding support available on-site for guests. With hugely reduced capacity across public and community services, calls have gone out to GM Housing Providers and VCSE organisations to redeploy staff where possible. We have had lots of offers and are working on bringing people online quickly and safely. If you have any staff or volunteers with valid experience who can be redeployed please get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Referrals into local and shared accommodation are being managed by Local Authority Housing Options/Rough Sleeper teams. These teams provide daily updates on need, support needs and upcoming demand. This ensures that there is visibility of current and upcoming demand, and GM alternative accommodation provision can be sourced accordingly. A Central Allocations Team has been established to allocate into MCC and GM accommodation provision. The Central Allocations Team is now resourced with allocations, hotel liaison, triage, in-reach and admin and support teams. A process will be shared shortly for all partners to have sight of so that it is clear and transparent for everyone.
Protocols within alternative accommodation are still being finalised. These protocols show very clearly that this is first and foremost a Public Health response.
Greater Manchester Mayor`s Charity
The Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity granted an emergency fund of £100,000 to the homelessness charitable sector last weekend and on 31st March launched an urgent appeal calling on big business and individuals to donate funds to support voluntary, community and social enterprises and faith-based organisations including with their core running costs during this COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to providing financial support, Greater Manchester’s public and the business community are being asked by the Charity to make bulk donations of essential items including food, such as cereals and microwaveable meals, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soaps and wet wipes, and even white goods and IT equipment. These goods will be channelled by Street Support from a warehouse in Manchester city centre to those working on the frontline who are able to get items to the people who need them most. As always, please contact Dee at: email@example.com if you have any urgent food and welfare provision needs or if you would like access to this warehouse.
Current Home Office position:
- Suspended discontinuations of asylum support for three months – those who were due a decision on their claim can remain accommodated in Serco properties with subsistence allowance
- In recognition that the supported asylum population will grow in this period the Immigration Minister has lifted the requirement for Local Authority consent prior to procurement
- No suspension of decision making
- No automatic extensions of support for those given a decision in the Covid-19 period who are due to vacate Serco accommodation – still need to be raised on a case by case basis.
- No plans to suspend or relax NRPF conditions
- Will not share service user details with Local Authorities to enable welfare checks and food parcels to be delivered because of GDPR
Actions required by HM Government to alleviate our ongoing concerns:
- Extensions of support for those who have already received a decision in the Covid-19 period
- Suspend NRPF conditions
- Facilitate self-isolation and shielding for symptomatic and vulnerable cases in HMOs
- Share information on service users in each LA along with identified vulnerabilities – suspend GDPR on the basis we are responding to a national emergency
Immediate and future pressures
All areas are seeing a clear rise in incoming need and rough sleeping from people previously sofa surfing or lodging, sex workers, and people from outside of GM. Homeless prison leavers and refuge required due to domestic abuse are growing. We also still have people who are rough sleeping who are waiting to be moved or not taking up the offer of accommodation. Work is ongoing to anticipate and response to these pressures.
As always, please continue to feed in to firstname.lastname@example.org any additional pressures you are seeing on the ground at this time with specific details as far as possible.
Other GMHAN updates
- We have added more new funding opportunities to our blog
- The Uber charity scheme is still active (contact Dee email@example.com for details)
- We are receiving lots of volunteer offers – if you need volunteers please let Dee know
- Please cascade this information and remind anyone in the sector needing this key information to signup to the GMHAN mailing list here
- Updates will also be posted on streetsupport.net and the GMHAN website
We are open to any feedback about how the current processes are working for your organisation, and any ideas of what you would like to see in the upcoming GMHAN newsletters. Please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org