At the end of August we confirmed that we would not be able to operate our winter night shelter during this winter season. You can read more about this decision and hear from our night shelter coordinator, Vron, here.
Today the government released new guidance for night shelters, in preparation for the cold weather that is expected this winter. The guidance gives clear advice in terms of how emergency winter night shelter provisions could be redesigned and managed in order to be as safe as possible for guests, staff and volunteers. Some organisations have welcomed this news whereas others are concerned as to whether any night shelter can be as safe as it needs to be in this current season.
We were keen to see whether the new guidance might influence our own position this winter. However we have found that the guidance confirms that we have made the right decision not to open our doors. Section 2 of the guidance clearly states that "Rotating night shelter models – where a different venue is used each night and people/belongings move each day – carry a higher risk of infection and should not be used."
We will obviously continue to monitor the situation and official guidance, but even if the government guidance allowed rotating shelters, we would need to think very carefully about whether this was a responsible thing for us to do, given the higher levels of vulnerability among our client group and of course our concern for the safety of our volunteers and any venue specific issues around their ability to open up with safe social distancing measures in place.
We believe that everyone should have a right to safe accommodation, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Through the 'A Bed Every Night' programme across Greater Manchester, anyone who is rough sleeping (or at imminent risk of rough sleeping) can be referred in to emergency accommodation and this year this includes people who have been told that they have no recourse to public funds. If you are concerned about someone who is sleeping on the streets, you can let StreetLink know and they will inform the appropriate local authority. Here in Manchester, people who need help with emergency accommodation are advised to visit one of the local drop in centres. You can find out more details about locations and opening times here on the Street Support website.
We are still able to take referrals for men and women who have become homeless through the asylum process. Since last winter, we have taken on one new shared house and we are currently exploring the possibility of emergency hosting placements in order to offer some extra capacity. However as move on options are slower and more limited than ever, we are unable to offer spaces immediately.
To find out more about our accommodation and to make a referral please click the pink button below.