GENEROUS donations of mattresses and bedding from Greater Manchester businesses mark the latest step in the city-region’s coordinated and sustained efforts to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
The past week has seen a joined-up approach swing into action as those most in need faced freezing temperatures and life-threatening weather conditions.
New facilities opened across the city-region as temperatures hit freezing with an unprecedented number of referrals to shelters and other accommodation, while the new Homelessness Business Network began to co-ordinate the private sector’s response.
Now mattress manufacturer Leesa Sleep Europe has offered 25 new memory foam single size mattresses free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis, and are willing to deliver to sites across the city-region at their own expense.
Meanwhile property developers Capital & Centric responded to calls for donations by giving 30 sleeping mats and 30 sleeping bags to organisations delivering emergency provision.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the donations, saying it demonstrates how everyone can come together to do their part to end homelessness and rough sleeping.
Andy added: “It is important to pay tribute to all those people who worked tirelessly last week and made a vital difference. It has been a uniquely tough and demanding seven days and I am proud of Greater Manchester’s coordinated and concerted effort to pull together to help those most in need.
“Tackling the humanitarian crisis that is our homelessness and rough sleeping epidemic needs to involve the public, private and third sectors. Last month I announced a new Homelessness Business Network, launched to give the private sector an enhanced role in tackling the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping, as well as making it easier for businesses to get involved.
“Generous and forward-thinking donations such as Leesa’s and Capital & Centric’s will make a real, instant impact and it is gratifying to see this kind of involvement from such organisations.”
Tim Heatley, chair of the newly-established Homelessness Business Network and co-owner of Manchester-based property developer Capital & Centric, said: “It is acts of generosity like this that the Business Network will encourage.
“The mattresses are a great start and will pave the way for our work with the wider business community to encourage some really creative responses.”
Greater Manchester’s Homelessness Action Network recently published a radical plan to end rough sleeping by 2020. This also forms the foundation of a new 10-year vision to tackle all forms of homelessness.
The Network was set up by Andy following his election last May and is a partnership of charities, businesses, local authorities, the public sector, people with experience of homelessness, the faith sector and other Greater Manchester organisations.
As the Beast From the East and Storm Emma made life doubly difficult for Greater Manchester’s homeless and rough sleeping populations, accommodation was opened in locations as diverse as fire stations in Tameside and central Manchester, churches across the city-region and Oldham’s EIC UKIM Mosque, with donations from other mosques funding transportation to the site.
And the Mayor is able to confirm a grant of £5,000 from the Homelessness Fund to the outreach charity Coffee4Craig, which coordinates volunteers supplying food and toiletries to those living on the street. The amount is matched by £5,000 to The Wellspring Stockport, which in its history has supported over 1,500 rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation.
On Tuesday, March 6, Greater Manchester became a Vanguard City, recognised by The Institute of Global Homelessness alongside Adelaide in Australia and Edmonton in Canada as a city working to eradicate or reduce rough sleeping by 2020. Some 10 additional cities across six continents are expected announce their participation in the coming months.
In December the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund, an important part of Greater Manchester’s efforts to end rough sleeping, announced a running total of £135,000.
To make a donation or find out more about the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/GM-Mayoral-Fund
Organisations are encouraged to apply for Leesa mattresses as soon as possible by using the following email address and entering ‘Homeless Cold Weather Mattress’ into the subject line: firstname.lastname@example.org