AN ambitious scheme to provide a bed for rough sleepers in Manchester and the wider city region opens its doors tonight, with metro mayor Andy Burnham urging the public to back the campaign and help tackle homelessness.
A Bed Every Night opens its doors on 1 November, with accommodation provided in every borough of the combined authority, offering a bed for the night to people who otherwise face the prospect of sleeping rough; these facilities, initially offering 260 beds, will remain open throughout the winter until March next year.
As well as a bed, the aim is to provide access to hot food, a hot shower and specialist support to enable those in accommodation to begin a sustainable journey away from life on the streets and for all provision to be of the highest possible standard.
“The generosity of spirit in Greater Manchester is beyond debate. We are not the type to simply walk on by. But the time has come to channel this goodwill and the work already being done across our city-region behind a single, thought-through and concerted campaign to tackle rough sleeping over the course of this winter,” Burnham said.
“Over the next few months we will pull together to help end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester, starting now with the launch of A Bed Every Night. We need public support – please consider donating to the campaign rather than giving on the street. By donating you can be sure your money will go towards work that will really make a difference – your money will not fall into the wrong hands.
“We will seek to provide a place for every person sleeping rough. Huge work is happening across our 10 boroughs, together with our voluntary providers and faith organisations, to deliver A Bed Every Night and make sure there is a range of accommodation available, including safe women-only provision and places that will look after dogs.”
Burnham has pledged to end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020, a full seven years ahead of the national target. All 10 local authorities across the city region have pledged support and resources, while the Mayor is appealing to the public to donate money to the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund with every penny directed to back A Bed Every Night over the coming months.
“A Bed Every Night is an important next step in our systematic approach to ending rough sleeping in Greater Manchester and giving people a supported journey away from the streets,” Burnham added. “We have already proved we can do this. Through our existing Social Impact Bond (SIB) we have successfully enabled 130 of our most entrenched rough sleepers to move into their own accommodation. We want to go further, faster this winter.
“I want to see other towns and cities across the North West and further afield emulate our model and redouble efforts nationwide to tackle this crisis. As a society we need to look after people properly. Whatever our challenges as a country, we are rich enough to put a roof over every head every night of the week.”
A Bed Every Night builds on the work already under way to address the scourge of homelessness. Authorities estimate roughly 500 people habitually sleep rough in Greater Manchester.
Manchester city centre has long been home to a significant proportion of the city-region’s rough sleeping population and is at the heart of the A Bed Every Night approach.
The scheme has been developed with the Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network as part of an existing and comprehensive approach to tackling the scourge of homelessness and rough sleeping.
Once people sleeping rough have been assisted in the short term agencies will begin working with individuals to help them into existing homelessness projects including the Social Impact Bond (SIB) and Housing First.
The SIB, a £1.8 million programme to assist the most entrenched rough sleepers with secure accommodation and ongoing targeted support, launched in December 2017 and so far more than 130 people have found secure accommodation in the city region.
“We warmly welcome the backing of the Mayor of Greater Manchester to help fund the A Bed Every Night initiative both here and across city-region,” said Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council.
“Working together, the city council and partners across Manchester are determined to do all we can to help people who are sleeping rough get off the streets and get the support they need to stay off the streets. The A Bed for Every Night initiative is an important part of this drive, especially as we approach winter.
“It is something we have committed to deliver in Manchester and we aim to soon have more than 70 extra beds available each and every night until April on top of the range of temporary and emergency accommodation already available.”
Social landlord Stockport Homes is playing its part in the borough. The organisation says it has built on the emergency provision usually made for cold weather and extended that offer for the whole winter period.
“This is a complicated challenge and it won’t be perfect right from the start. We will learn and adapt as we go, incorporating new people and new ideas,” the organisation said.
Robin Burman, chair of the board at Stockport Homes added: “We are offering a range of support to help people to move on from rough sleeping, which involves much more than providing simply a bed. This commitment is a challenge which we will seek to meet over the course of the five months, by working with our partner agencies we want to make a real difference to people to move forward with their lives.”
The public can make donations at www.bedeverynight.co.uk, where they can also track the progress of fundraising.