COMMUNITIES are rallying round to ensure no-one has to sleep on the streets in Tameside this winter.
Not only are beds, clothing and food being provided by GMCA and the wider community in Tameside, but homeless people will also be helped with securing permanent accommodation in the future.
Tameside Council is co-ordinating efforts in response to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s A Bed Every Night campaign to provide a bed for every rough sleeper from the beginning of November to the end of March. It’s one part of Mr Burnham’s pledge to end homelessness in Greater Manchester by 2020.
Two local churches have come forward to ensure 20 beds and washing facilities are available every night: St Christopher’s Church in Ashton on Sunday to Wednesday nights and United Church in Hyde on Thursday to Saturday nights. Volunteers prepare beds in the church halls in an evening and clear them away in the morning, while the community is providing food and other items such as clothing and toiletries. The churches are not direct access and anyone presenting directly to the church will have to be turned away – to be referred you must present to Tameside Housing Advice or contact 0161 331 2700.
Street outreach workers based with CGL are also looking out for rough sleepers in Tameside to offer support and the option to ‘come inside’.
Both churches offered help following last winter’s ‘Beast from the East’ storms and are hosting on average ten people a night.
St Christopher’s had 16 people through its doors on one evening alone.
Father Simon Firth said the church was fulfilling its Christian duty, adding: “We have supported homeless charities for a long time. When this came up we wanted to provide whatever support we can.
“A great number of people are pulling together and helping as it gets colder. It’s gone really well, the people we are helping are very grateful and a great number of people have been moved on into decent accommodation across Greater Manchester. “
United Church also has space for 20 people. Church member Wendy Gough said: “Our motto is ‘The United Church with a heart for the community’ and it’s with that in mind that we do quite a lot of community ventures and this is something we wanted to get involved in.
“It’s a huge commitment but church members have rallied round to support it. It’s fantastic that everyone is working together and getting stuck in to provide some shelter. People want to join in and make a difference.
“The council has employed workers as well so it’s not just a sticking plaster but to enable people to get back on their feet so they have support with any issues and in finding permanent accommodation.”
Syndicate Originals in Hyde are donating new clothing, Sandwich Angels are providing food and residents have also donated food and clothes.
Tameside Council has recruited a Rough Sleepers Co-ordinator who is responsible for all of the Council’s initiatives for addressing rough sleeping. The Council has also created a Winter Provision Co-ordinator for Tameside, and Dean Carr, from Greystones in Ashton, is currently the lead in this role.
Greystones helps single, homeless men with support needs, providing shelter and assistance with independent living skills, debt, budgeting and dependency, as well as a range of workshops including benefits advice, problem solving and education.
So far, Greystones have accommodated five people from A Bed Every Night into their own supported accommodation, which provides more secure accommodation with support and offers the opportunity for people to address their housing needs with a view to securing permanent accommodation in the future. Dean said: “The provision is working. It’s good to see people moved from temporary to permanent accommodation.”
Cllr Ged Cooney, Tameside Council’s executive member with responsibility for homelessness, said: “Our staff are working hard with rough sleepers, referring agencies, accommodation providers and other partners to ensure that no-one in Tameside is left without a roof over their head during winter. The intention is to move people through emergency shelter into the accommodation and support option that’s right for them.
“It’s heart-warming to see the ever generous Tameside community rallying round to provide support and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their help.”
In Tameside, the contact for A Bed Every Night is Tameside Housing Advice, 119-125 Old Street, Ashton, OL6 7RL – 0161 331 2700 (the number is staffed out of hours).