Cost of living leads to homelessness this Christmas

Manchester charities have warned of the impact the cost-of-living crisis will have on homelessness in the city this Christmas.

Jack Barton, Communications Manager for the charity, Mustard Tree, told Mancunian Matters that they have already seen the cost-of-living crisis hit their hubs over the last few months with debt being the primary reason people are reaching out for support.

Mr Barton said: “The combination of inflation, rising energy bills, and rising rents are sure to lead to more housing insecurity – and we don’t think we’ll see the worst of it until after Christmas.  

“At a recent Freedom Project open day, all our clients were facing either a County Court Judgement (CCJ) for debt or were at threat of eviction.”

Mr Barton said Mustard Tree will be supporting the homeless up until Christmas.  

He said: “Thanks to our incredible supporters, we’ve been able to stock our Community Shops with Christmas gifts for families facing poverty and living in temporary accommodation.

“We continue to host the Street Engagement Hub at our Ancoats site every Tuesday and Thursday, supporting people who are street homeless through a multi-agency service. 

“Our focus is on homelessness prevention – our training services, Food Club, and Community Shops will be open as usual up until Christmas, with other crisis services operating in the city over the Christmas week.” 

Alicia Walker, Head of Policy, Research and Campaigns at Centrepoint., told Mancunian Matters the cost-of-living crisis is particularly affecting young people who don’t have family to rely on.

Ms Walker said: “Soaring rents and the steep rise in the cost of living is pushing many to breaking point. Sadly, we are predicting that over 4,000 young people in the Northwest will face homelessness this winter. 

“However, this is a conservative estimate, and that number could be much higher as rents, bills and the cost of food continue to increase beyond what people can afford.” 

Ms Walker explained what Centrepoint, is doing to help the homeless in Manchester this Christmas. 

She said: “Our Homelessness Prevention and Relief Service are working on the ground with 1,700 young people a year in Manchester helping them to get the support they need.

“We help them to access accommodation, finances, practical support and also ensure that they are able to receive the appropriate support for other issues they may have such as mental health issues, substance use issues and unemployment.

“We are fortunate to be able to refer young people onto our own on-site mental health service and also Education, Training and Employment service. 

“Along with local government and other charities, our team in Manchester is doing all it can to support young people facing homelessness in the city, including rough sleepers and those with complex needs – but we can’t do it alone.  

“If we are to end youth homelessness in Manchester, we really need to see more funding and strategic direction from the government in Westminster.”  

Judith Vickers, Operations Manager for homeless charity Lifeshare, told Mancunian Matters they are seeing more people becoming homeless with the current economic situation and so their role is to support both the homeless and those in very uncertain positions.

In terms of the help Lifeshare offers, Ms Vickers said: “We offer all kinds of practical help in accessing the financial and physical support that is out there.  We’d ask anyone who feels they are at risk to contact us via the website, and we will do everything we can to help.

“We are also reaching out to people who are able to help those in need – volunteers, donations of food, clothing and cash is greatly appreciated; I can assure anyone donating to Lifeshare that their money is going directly to someone in crisis.”

Lifeshare is also holding its annual Christmas project from December 23rd to December 29th.  It is being held at New Victoria, Corporation Street, and will be run by volunteers throughout the Christmas period including Christmas Day. 

They will be offering hot meals, showers, a barber, medical professionals, a clean set of clothes, sleeping bags, a podiatrist, and a vet for dogs amongst other services.   

Jane Carroll, volunteer marketing and public relations coordinator, told Mancunian Matters it is for the homeless, anyone who feels lonely, or people who can’t cook their Christmas dinner this year.

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Photo by Ev on Unsplash

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