Riverside manager lands Greater Manchester award for helping homeless during COVID-19

A housing association manager has been given a High Sheriff of Greater Manchester award for her work in supporting homeless people staying in hotels during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Kath Meighan is a service manager for Riverside at the Holiday Inn Express in Gorton, Manchester, where the housing provider is currently managing emergency accommodation for rough sleepers.

The supported service was set up as part of the government’s Everyone In campaign to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst the homeless community.

Meighan was nominated for a Special Recognition award by Manchester City Council and has now received it from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester Eamonn O’Neal.

Meighan said: “Receiving this award is amazing but it’s not just for me, it is thanks to all of the team working there. Our success is testament to the hard work from my colleagues at Riverside, together with security and hotel staff there, making it a positive collaborative effort from everyone.

“We have such a diverse team from young to mature, BAME staff and people with lived experience of homelessness. I’m very honoured to receive the award.”

Meighan has worked for Riverside since December 2018, starting out as a support worker in Crumpsall working on A Bed Every Night, Greater Manchester’s flagship scheme for helping rough sleepers.

She was nominated by Manchester City Council’s Michael Kendall for her ‘proactive approach’ in helping the hotel’s often vulnerable residents, such as making sure that they get the medication they need and any other additional support.

Kendall praised Meighan for going ‘above and beyond’ what is expected of her in managing the project, saying that thanks to her, the hotel’s guests ‘will leave in better health than when they arrived’.

Kendall said: “Knowing that residents have a range of multiple vulnerabilities such as mental health, drugs and other issues, Kath knew it was important for them not to continue their normal lifestyles on the streets, in order to reduce the risk of further infection or transmission of COVID-19 to themselves and others.

“To combat this she arranged activities and workshops to keep them busy and safe within the confines of the hotel, such as building planters from scratch to personalised signs for charities.”

The Everyone In project has helped over 1,500 people across Greater Manchester during the COVID-19 pandemic, with residents at the Holiday Inn Express able to get support from specialist mental health and addiction services.

Each guest at the hotel has their own comprehensive support package, while there is also an onsite ‘One Stop Shop’ to help residents address a range of issues such as health, prescriptions and benefits.

Cllr Luthfur Rahman, lead member for homelessness for Manchester City Council, added: “The lengths to which staff have gone to during the COVID-19 crisis have been nothing short of astonishing. The foundation of the work we do is people who deeply care about helping some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“Kath is a shining example of someone who goes about their day with compassion and a willingness to help anyone, no matter where they have come from or the struggles they have faced. This award is thoroughly deserved and I congratulate her wholeheartedly.”

Riverside is the UK’s third largest homelessness services provider as its Care and Support operation works with over 16,000 customers every year.

Greater Manchester is currently looking to transition rough sleepers from the Everyone In scheme back to its A Bed Every Night scheme, the £4.75 million third phase of which is set to launch next month.

The third phase of the scheme is designed to operate ‘post-COVID-19’, with rough sleepers set to sleep in self-contained rooms or in multiple occupancy houses to reduce the risk of infection.

Photo: Kath Meighan holding her High Sheriff award, joined by Riverside colleagues. Credit: Riverside.

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