My Big Mouth: Mancunian communities aren’t ready to house the homeless

It has been revealed by the Manchester Evening News that a shelter under Andy Burnham’s ‘Bed Every Night’ is to be relocated due to complaints relating to needles being found near the area.

The shelter, located in Tameside at the former Ryecroft Library in Audenshaw, is placed right next to a children’s playground where it’s been claimed that used needles have been found.

Evidence of drug use near a location where children frequent could be seen on the surface as a huge irresponsibility on the part of the residents of the shelter, and indeed, its supervisors.

However, it exposes a much deeper crack in the fissure that is Burnham’s promise to give every homeless person in Manchester a bed every night.

As the MM has previously reported, this pledge was based on extremely liberal figures and was expected to fall short within a year of being announced.

Burnham himself pledged to focus on the common drug issue found among homeless people and to help addicts get into forms of rehabilitation to kick the habit.

At this shelter, direct rehabilitation is apparently not the focus, instead of using modern medicine they have announced they will go with a more ‘holistic approach’.

When it comes to rehabilitation, a holistic approach refers to treating an individual in an abstract way.

UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) sums it up by focusing on treating the mind, body and spirit to help the individual get through the problems that has caused them to become addicted to drugs.

The problem with this approach however, is that it does not deal with the pressure mounted on homeless people by local, smaller communities who are not used to seeing large numbers of rough sleepers.

In the city centre it is common to walk past at least half a dozen rough sleepers by spending a single afternoon going about your normal business.

In places like Audenshaw, however, the number of rough sleepers is far less frequent and people who live in these communities are not as desensitised to seeing homeless people as people in the city centre.

This creates a lot of difficulty for rough sleepers who are trying to improve their lives by getting a permanent accommodation so they are able to apply for work and start funding a healthier life.

 We must also tackle the issue that is some homeless people simply don’t want to get out of their situation because it is easier for them to earn money by begging rather than going through the long and arduous journey of getting back into stable employment.

And more often than not, the quality of employment for these people is less than glamourous.

They are usually shoehorned into a low-paying job where they are treated with contempt by colleagues and bosses because of their former situation.

Going into a shelter also restricts the freedom of a homeless person, there are usually strict rules what surrounding what is and isn’t allowed in a shelter.

They also have to live among people they don’t know and can’t trust, living on the streets gives rough sleepers constant paranoia that they could be robbed of what little money they have or being hassled by police at any moment.

Every step of improvement brings more issues for rough sleepers trying to improve their lives so it’s understandable that many stop trying and turn to drink and drugs which makes helps them to forget about their dire situation.

The truth is we have a lot in common with rough sleepers, the common stereotype of the stressed mother going for a glass of red wine when the kids are at school or in bed is not different to the homeless man who goes for a bottle of Jack Daniel’s while he uses cardboard to protect himself from the freezing winter rain.

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