‘Help them off streets for good’: Manchester City Council turns empty buildings into homeless shelters

As many as 165 extra overnight bed spaces have been created for Manchester’s homeless this winter, after the City Council made two empty buildings available to rough sleepers.

Both Hulme Library and Harpurhey’s Beech Mount Children’s Home have been unused in recent years, but will now be transformed into overnight accommodation from December, in an attempt to tackle the city’s growing and well-documented problem with homelessness.

Large homeless camps in St Anne’s Square and on Oxford Road have been dispersed in recent months, leading to widespread criticism of the city council.

However, this move to support rough sleepers is sure to be seen as a step in the right direction, with the council investigating whether further empty buildings in the city can be opened for the same purpose.

Councillor Paul Andrews, council executive for adult health and well-being, described the ploy as a positive development, but stressed that the city’s aim must be to get the homeless ‘off the streets for good’.

“Providing shelter and a roof over their heads is obviously a good start,” he said.

“What’s really important is working with charities, faith groups and our own homelessness services to make sure the right help and support is available to rough sleepers so we can help them make the first steps towards getting off the streets for good.”

“We’ve spent months working on plans to open up empty buildings across the city to make sure nobody has to sleep rough on the streets this winter.

“This is a lengthy process, but we have now identified the first pair which we can open and we’re now continuing to carry out inspections so we can open more empty buildings in other parts of the city.

“As well as this, we’ve also reopened some buildings as shared houses, while faith groups are opening up other centres, meaning there will be a much wider range of bed spaces available across the city.”

The council will be working alongside an ‘experienced’ provider of specialist support for homeless people, who will manage the buildings and ensure that occupants are given access to medical and mental health services, as well as help with alcohol and drug addictions. 

Image courtesy of Jay Black, via Flickr, with thanks

Related Articles