THE second phase of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s flagship A Bed Every Night scheme gets underway next month offering even more rough sleepers the prospect of escaping life on the street.
Andy Burnham has announced a £6 million funding package, together with 100 extra bed spaces across the city region and enhanced support services, ahead of the second phase opening its doors on 1 October.
All told, 400 places will be available up to June 2020 and the combined authority said it hopes this extra provision sill mean there “should be a place for every person seeking support”. As with Phase 1, support will be limited to people whose last address was in Greater Manchester.
A Bed Every Night was said to be a groundbreaking scheme – the first of its kind in the UK – when it started in November 2018 to provide a bed, warm welcome, and personal support for anyone sleeping on the streets.
Phase 1 saw over £3.3 million of funding to provide 300 beds. Since it launched, 2,003 people have been supported through it and 688 have moved on to secure and long-term accommodation.
On an average night, 300 people have been supported through the assistance of a range of partners from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), 10 local authorities, voluntary and faith groups, amongst many others.
As well as increasing the number of places, the combined authority says Phase 2 seeks to improve the quality of support. Provision will be more varied, it claims, ensuring that people’s specific needs can be met, including women-only spaces, provision for couples and, through the greater involvement of NHS staff, those with complex needs such as addictions and mental health. There will also be more options for people with dogs.
Furthermore, Phase 2 of A Bed Every Night has sought to learn the lessons of the first. This includes the need to provide more beds, more professional involvement, more secure funding and stronger partnerships between different funding agencies and organisations.
These include: the GMCA, the 10 Councils, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP), Greater Manchester Police, Ministry of Justice and HM Prison & Probation Service, Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, Raise the Roof, Tackle4MCR and the Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network.
“In 2017, I made a firm commitment to do everything I could to end the need for rough sleeping by 2020 and it remains my top priority,” Burnham said. “With this strengthening of A Bed Every Night, I believe we have a plan that honours that pledge.
“People gave us honest feedback on Phase 1 and these new plans seeks to respond to it. It is not perfect, but it is getting better all the time. Today Greater Manchester is going up yet another gear in its response to the homelessness crisis.
“I am hugely grateful to all of our partners for answering the call to action and rallying round. I am particularly indebted to our colleagues in the NHS whose greater input into A Bed Every Night will make a huge difference.”
The two main funding partners are GMCA and the GMHSCP, with the contribution from the latter now at £2 million – up from the £1.5 million announced in June 2019.
As well as improving the quality of accommodation, there will be more training of front-line staff and volunteers and improve signposting, screening and assessment into relevant health services.
The 400 bed spaces are being provided by a range of organisations from voluntary, faith, community groups and housing providers.
“Rough sleeping is a dangerous and isolating experience,” said Dr Tom Tasker, GP, co-chair of the GM Joint Commissioning Team and chair of the NHS Salford Commissioning Group.
“As a GP, we see that there is a considerable impact on a person’s physical and mental health caused by homelessness and rough sleeping. In many cases, people experiencing homelessness are already facing multiple complexities, which are compounded further by spending even one night sleeping on the street.
“GM Health and Social Care partners are providing an investment of £2m to allow us to tackle this issue head on. This will support the continuation of the A Bed Every Night Programme, whilst at the same time giving us a platform to further develop the health and well-being input to the programme.”
Ian Pilling, deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, added: “A key priority for GMP is protecting the most vulnerable in society and this includes those who sleep on our streets.
“Being compassionate and offering support where needed is the first step in our response as we recognise how vulnerable those sleeping on the streets can be. We’ve backed A Bed Every Night from the start because we know a range of agencies and organisations on the frontline need to work together to help people off the streets and into safe accommodation.”
Councillor Sue Murphy, Manchester City Council’s deputy leader, said: “The rise in homelessness and rough sleeping is one of the biggest challenges we face today and it is not one that we can solve in isolation.
“We will continue to support A Bed Every Night, this year contributing 70 additional emergency bed spaces for people sleeping rough in Manchester, on top of the support we already provide to rough sleepers from Manchester. As the scheme progresses, the number of emergency beds available will also increase.
“A Bed Every Night is one way we are able to support some of the most vulnerable members of society, and it will add to our existing services that help people get off the streets and rebuild their lives.”