A new start in life for rough sleepers in Oldham

24 November 2017

A new start in life for rough sleepers in Oldham

An Oldham housing association aims to turn around the lives of rough sleepers as part of a £1.8m Greater Manchester drive to help them off the streets.

First Choice Homes Oldham is in a partnership of housing providers, charities and social investors across Greater Manchester which have been selected to deliver a government-funded programme to help around 200 rough sleepers in Greater Manchester start a new life.

The newly established Greater Manchester Homes Partnership will work with people who have regularly slept rough over the past two years and are well known to homelessness services.

This will be delivered over a three-year period through a new £1.8m rough sleeping scheme – the largest in the UK. Housing Associations Regenda, Great Places, Villages (ForViva) and AKSA (New Charter) who work in Oldham are also involved in delivering this new initiative.

Cath Green, Chief Executive of First Choice Homes Oldham, said: “There are many reasons why people live on the streets. Often they have lost their jobs, had a relationship breakdown, lost their homes, have a mental health condition such as depression, and have or develop a drink or drug addiction to cope with their experiences. This is a situation which anyone could find themselves in. We already have homelessness services in place, however, this new approach across Greater Manchester will help us to work together to try to end rough sleeping for good.

“The average age someone dies if they live on the streets is 46 years. They are more likely to become ill and if they even have a cold or flu, it can seriously affect their health. This places a big demand on already stretched health services – they use more than four times the amount of health services compared to those with a home. We hope by providing targeted support we can make a real difference.”

First Choice Homes has committed to providing at least ten homes initially to those who would like to live in Oldham, as well as contributing £5000 to the scheme. Together with other housing associations, this means an extra £100,000 will be invested to provide additional housing and support services, over and above the £1.8m government funding.

A total of 270 homes will be made available by 15 of Greater Manchester’s housing providers and two private rented sector partners.

People who may have struggled with tenancies in the past will be given a second chance to have a home. Shelter and other charities as well as housing associations will ensure individuals receive the right type of emotional and practical support to help them stay in their new homes and create a new life that works for them.

The consortium has been put together by One Manchester and Trafford Housing Trust, two Greater Manchester-based housing providers, and Bridges Fund Management, which manages funds on behalf of a range of impact-driven investors, including Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

Dave Power, Group Chief Executive of One Manchester, said: “I know I’m not alone in being shocked to see the numbers of people sleeping rough rising in Manchester so we absolutely must pull together to address this.

“Our ultimate aim is to ensure that people who have found themselves back on the street time and again have the chance to start a new life in the right kind of home with the right support.

“This funding enables us to do this by responding to the individual circumstances which lead people to a life of sleeping rough. This is a hugely important initiative and we are ready to take action, now. Thanks to this collaborative approach we have an opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives by providing the right kind of tailored support.”

John Ryan, who runs Shelter’s Manchester hub, said: “The Greater Manchester Homes Partnership is a great opportunity for us to work collaboratively with a range of partners to reach even more people across the city who urgently need our support. The partnership will help end the devastating scourge of street homelessness, which is one of the Mayor’s priorities, and we are delighted to be part of it.”

The programme is part of a wider plan to tackle homelessness in the region, which Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has pledged to eradicate. For more information about this, visit:

https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/info/20000/housing_planning_and_homelessness.

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