Fire stations host homeless

Andy Burnham visiting staff and volunteers at The Brick to launch his homelessness funds earlier this year
Andy Burnham visiting staff and volunteers at The Brick to launch his homelessness funds earlier this year

The borough’s fire stations are to be used to support the homeless.

Today is World Homeless Day and research looking at the nation’s attitudes towards helping those without a roof over their heads suggest 17 per cent of Britons don’t know the best way to assist them while eight per cent think there is nothing society can do.

But one man with plenty of ideas is Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham who has made the elimination of rough sleeping on his patch one of his top priorities. He launched the project at The Brick homelessness charity in Wigan earlier this year and at the weekend announced £1.8m of new funding.

And Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has pledged to open up all of its 41 stations - including Wigan, Hindley, Leigh and Atherton - be used to support homeless people, partnering with community and voluntary groups to provide a range of services such as food and drink.

As far as the money is concerned, Mr Burnham said the money, one of just eight social impact bonds approved and the largest outside of London, will help to provide accommodation, intensive health support and improvements in the way homeless people are encouraged into education or work for up to 200 people.

The news comes just two weeks after the Mayor called on all public bodies in Greater Manchester to work together to end homelessness and rough sleeping with immediate action.

Representatives from all of those organisations attended a meeting of Greater Manchester’s Reform Board to suggest wide ranging, practically-focused actions that could be taken to ensure homelessness and rough sleeping are immediately reduced. These actions include an immediate call to the Government to halt the roll out of the Universal Credit benefit scheme.

The project also focuses on finding employment, education or training support for homeless people; special access for mental health and addiction support; ensuring no-one is discharged from hospital onto the street.