Today is an important day. For weeks and months we have been working on additional plans to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in Greater Manchester over the coming winter.
A Bed Every Night marks a significant escalation of our efforts to tackle the humanitarian crisis on our streets. With the public’s help, alongside donations from benefactors and businesses who want to make a difference, we aim to ensure that there will be a bed every night for every single person sleeping rough in Greater Manchester.
And it’s more than just a bed. As well as a roof over the head of someone who has been sleeping rough, there will be a range of support to help people begin a journey away from the streets.
We know roughly 500 people habitually sleep rough in Greater Manchester. Last year we went further than the national requirement – we opened “emergency provision” every time it was forecast to drop to freezing or below.
We found that when the ‘beast from the east’ long cold spell arrived and people were in accommodation for longer there was a real opportunity to help them access extra support – and this means them being more likely to stay off the streets for good.
It’s this approach we want to amplify this winter. A Bed Every Night is an important first step on the road to helping people get off, and stay off, the streets. It is a thought-through policy developed with our Homelessness Action Network, and is part of our existing and comprehensive approach to tackling the scourge of homelessness and rough sleeping.
It is not a sticking plaster, but a coherent plan to provide warmth, safety and food in the short term before working with individuals to help them into our existing homelessness projects: the Social Impact Bond (SIB) and Housing First. Reducing rough sleeping by providing respite leads to recovery for homeless people and, ultimately, reconnection with society.
The SIB, a £1.8m programme to assist the most entrenched rough sleepers with secure accommodation and ongoing targeted support, launched in December and so far more than 110 people have found secure accommodation in the city-region.
The success of programmes like the SIB lays the foundations for our ground-breaking Housing First pilot. Our aim is that significant numbers of new places – homes plus an individual package of support – will be opening in the early months of 2019.
Your donation to A Bed Every Night, no matter how big or small, will make a real difference.
Just £3 will pay for a hot evening meal in a shelter for someone who would otherwise have slept on the streets. £10 will pay for bedding and toiletries. £30 pays for someone to have a hot evening meal, a safe bed for the night and someone to talk to so they can get off and stay off the streets this winter.
A Bed Every Night is a partnership with our 10 councils, businesses, the voluntary sector and the public. It is undoubtedly a huge undertaking and one never tried before on this scale in this country. I hope other cities see us doing things differently and feel able to adopt our approach.
But I am aware of some of the concerns people might have. There is a view that, the stronger Greater Manchester’s ambition on rough sleeping, the more we will become a magnet for people to come here and the greater our problem will be. There’s no actual evidence this happens, it’s more fear than reality, but it is important to address those concerns and the risk. To ensure we can afford this, A Bed Every Night has to be aimed at people who are from Greater Manchester so we will be supporting people whose last address was in the city region, and those without recourse to public funds.
We do need to raise a significant amount of money to support our 10 borough councils’ funding of A Bed Every Night. That means we need all the help we can get to spread the word about our mission.
I am very pleased that Tackle4MCR, a project spearheaded by Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, is backing our work. Every penny raised during this, Vincent’s Testimonial year, will go towards supporting A Bed Every Night.
I am so grateful for Vincent’s support and involvement. He’s a major player (in more ways than one!) in our region, and describes himself as a man “born in Belgium but made in Manchester.”
I enjoyed attending the launch event on Wednesday night when Vincent was able to explain more about his background, his passion for our city-region and why this cause is one close to his heart. Tackle4MCR is just the sort of project we need to get right behind A Bed Every Night to help make it a success.
While our focus will be on the provision of beds for people sleeping rough across Greater Manchester I want to emphasise that we are not working alone. Rather, our work sits as part of a wide and extensive range of organisations already taking action. Big Change MCR, for example, continues to do great work paying for practical items individuals need to build independent lives away from the streets.
I want to echo one of Big Change MCR’s key messages – you are much better off donating to a fundraising drive than handing cash to someone begging for money on the street. If you want to donate food, items or your own time, Street Support has details of have you can give.
Donate to A Bed Every Night and you can be sure your contribution is going to fund something that really matters and will make an instant and significant difference in the lives of people who need help and support.
Whatever our challenges as a country, we are rich enough to put a roof over every head every night of the week. I hope that, in Greater Manchester at least, this will soon become the norm.
Thank you for your ongoing interest and support.
Find out more at www.bedeverynight.co.uk