IN PICS: Bez joins hundreds campaigning against homeless cuts in Manchester

Hundreds of anti-austerity protesters gathered to demonstrate their anger towards the government’s homelessness funding cuts in Manchester yesterday.

The rally took place in Piccadilly Gardens during the afternoon and was attended by former Happy Mondays singer and Reality Party member Mark Berry – aka Bez. 

Entertainment was put on in the form of a drumming band and a huge number of placards were on display to let people express their views.

MUSICIAN TURNED MAN-OF-THE-PEOPLE: Happy Mondays singer Bez addressed the Piccadilly Gardens audience

THE REVOLUTION STARTS HERE: Some members of the protest adorned the masks made famous by protest group Anonymous

BANGING THE DRUM: The crowd were entertained by musicians from the Drum Machine 

30-year-old Paul, who was born and raised in Manchester, was homeless for four months in 2005 and is currently unemployed.

The Reality Party supporter attended the protest and told MM about how homelessness had become a crisis in the city.

“I come into town very often and the rise of homelessness that I’ve seen on the streets is absolutely shocking – it’s certainly at its highest peak in a long time,” he said.

‘ABSOLUTE DISGRACE’: Manchester drumming collective, the Drum Machine, criticised how the government treats the ‘weak and vulnerable’

“You’ve got people going into food banks and the use of food banks are at an all time high.

“We are a first world country and you’ve got people living on the streets – it shouldn’t happen.” 

Paul went on to explain that housing the homeless made sense for the Government to to save money on medical and criminal costs.

“If you house half the homeless, half the problems that you will have with the homeless will disappear overnight,” he said.

‘HOUSE THE HOMELESS’: 30-year-old Paul (above) said many of the issues stemming from the homeless would be solved if the government invested in housing

Bruce Mercer, a 58-year-old spokesman from homeless charity Emmaus, agreed that it made more sense for the government to house the homeless.  

“It definitely does make sense, I totally agree,” he said.

“At Emmaus, we did a study of every person who came off the street in 25 communities around the country.

“It worked out that the government save hundreds of thousands of pounds each year because they didn’t had to deal with hospitals and police.”

‘SAVING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS’: Homeless charity Emmaus spokesperson Bruce Mercer (pcitured above left) talked about the charity’s study of communities across the country

Following the rally, a number of protesters proceeded to storm the Town Hall, which resulted in tactical aid unit officers being drafted in to keep the crowd under control.

A window was smashed at the Princess Street entrance of the building and numerous assaults took place.

HELP THE HOMELESS: A turnout of hundreds near the Manchester Wheel saw a splinter group break off towards the Town Hall

GMP blasted the actions of a minority of campaigners who caused trouble and explained that protest organisers should have co-operated with police from the outset.

“The organisers were given the opportunity to work with the police and the Local Authority to facilitate the demonstration, but did not take up this offer,” said Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe.

“Whilst the majority of people protesting were doing so in a peaceful manner, a number of individuals decided to go beyond this and began to participate in disorder which resulted in criminal damage to the Town Hall and a number of assaults.”

‘TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE’: The small group of protestors who caused criminal damage at the Town Hall were slated by GMP for undermining the group’s cause

“This is totally unacceptable behaviour and Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council will be working together to identify these individuals in order that they can be prosecuted.

“The actions of this small group have only gone towards undermining the issues which the majority of people demonstrating were trying to highlight.”

Images courtesy of Koray Erol, with thanks

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