Updated: Thursday, 23rd November 2017 @ 12:04pm

Free birth certificates for homeless a step in right direction thanks to Salford help group

Free birth certificates for homeless a step in right direction thanks to Salford help group

| By Mark Thompson

Birth certificates will now be free for homeless people in Salford, thanks to the work of the Salford Poverty Truth Commission.

Previously, homeless individuals or organisations acting on behalf of them would have to pay an £11 fee for the document.

The commission – composed of people who have experienced poverty themselves as well as civic and business leaders – has also worked with the council to review how it interacts with vulnerable individuals.

One of the things they have committed to is to stop using enforcement agents when recovering debts from their most vulnerable residents, to avoid creating further distress or difficulty for people already struggling.

Mayor of Great Manchester Andy Burnham also met with the commission, and has asked the other local authorities in the Greater Manchester area to adopt the waiving of fees for birth certificate copies.

Amanda Croome, CEO of Manchester charity the Booth Centre, says that they are delighted with this progress.

“Identification is an essential prerequisite to getting accommodation, housing and employment," she said.

“We have already made use of this service to help people from Salford to get identification and to move off the streets.”

According to advice from homelessness charity Shelter, an application to be classed as ‘homeless’ is sped up by having identification (like a birth certificate) – so without one, the homeless may even struggle to apply as homeless.

“The Booth Centre usually has to purchase birth certificates so it saves us money that we can channel into other essential services for homeless people,” Croome added.

The commission has also produced a ‘survival guide’ for the homeless, which can be kept in a waterproof lanyard, as much of the current advice is most readily available online, hard to access for those living on the streets.

The Salford Poverty Truth Commission drew its inspiration from similar projects in Glasgow and Leeds, and there are now commissions in West Cheshire and Wolverhampton as well.

It is an independent body launched in July 2016 and sponsored by Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, and Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, as well as a variety of funding organisations.