At the start of 2020, emphasis focused on people sleeping rough in Greater Manchester prompted us to look at how homelessness affects families. The Shared Health Foundation Gold Standard report estimated:
- 2,742 children were living in temporary accommodation in Greater Manchester;
- Two years is considered an average ‘temporary’ placement;
- The number of homeless families in GM has risen by almost 1000%.
At the start of 2020, the number of homeless families across Greater Manchester exceeded 1,500, with evidence showing hidden homeless people and hidden households equating to 10 times higher than official statistics. It is also estimated that there are twice as many homeless families than there are rough sleepers. According to GMHAN, from May 2020, there was a 20% increase in homeless families across Greater Manchester, exceeding 2,500. In the last three years, the number of homeless families in Manchester has risen from approximately 144 to 1,250 and falls within the top 50 local authorities in England by rate of children who are homeless.
“Statistics indicate 1 in 59 children in Manchester are homeless or in temporary accommodation.”
As part of the Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network (GMHAN), we started to work with Shared Health Foundation to understand the issues faced by families who become homeless.
It was identified that many families experiencing or at risk of homelessness are placed in emergency and temporary accommodation, within and out of their original area. Often, they have no idea of the resources available, and the situation can be even harder to navigate when they have no local connection. This also results in making it harder for them to come out of homelessness.
It was for this reason, we decided to co-design and develop a family specific section on the Street Support website with targeted information and advice, easy ways to find relevant services and local resources near to where families are being placed.
As this was our first large scale development project since Street Support was established, we knew it was going to take a considerable amount of time and funding to launch the new section. It was around the same time that Morgan Sindall, a leading British Construction & Regeneration group contacted us to offer to fundraise for us. During our initial meetings with them, we mentioned the families project idea which they were very keen to be a part of. They generously donated £10,000 specifically for the project which allowed us to begin the project. We received a further £5,500 from the GM Mayor’s Fund.
Our idea was for the new section to be aimed at families experiencing or at risk of homelessness and anyone who might assist them, such as health workers, community volunteers and accommodation providers. Our intention was to provide advice to navigate the situation and location-specific support to resolve it.
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Beth Knowles, Strategic Lead for Homeless Families, from Shared Health said “The experiences of families are largely invisible in public and policy discussions of homelessness. Families are often displaced to temporary accommodation far from their existing support networks with damaging effects on their education, health and wellbeing. We hope the new Street Support Families website will increase awareness of families’ needs and help them to rebuild vital support.”
Gary Dunstan, Co-founder of Street Support Network said “We are very grateful to Morgan Sindell and the GM Mayor’s fund who have generously funded this vital project. It’s a huge concern that this problem is getting worse due to the impact of the pandemic. If this works and helps families get the help they need in Greater Manchester, we hope other Street Support Network locations would be interested in implementing it for their cities and regions.”
Now having a model to work from, we see that we could expand the families section to other locations across the Street Support Network. In addition, there is the possibility of being able to extend our reach to more people such as women, youths and veterans across the whole of our Network. If you would like to talk about developing a new section on Street Support Network, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please visit https://streetsupport.net/families/ to check the new section out.