Andy Burnham announces £5m to house rough sleepers in Greater Manchester hotels

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Andy Burnham has announced he will be releasing £5 million in funds to house rough sleepers in Greater Manchester during the coronavirus pandemic.

He made the announcement following Wednesday’s Covid-19 emergency meeting, which the mayor has been hosting weekly online through social media.

The £5m package will support 1,000 rough sleepers and otherwise vulnerable people in shared temporary accommodation across Manchester through the crisis.

It follows previously announced council provisions which have seen them strike deals with local hotels to provide rooms for Manchester’s homeless. 625 rooms had already been made available, with a further 375 due to be arranged in time for the weekend.

Food, sanitary products, dental supplies and mobile phones are also being provided to those staying by council staff.

However last night one Manchester hotel, The Britannia, was named and shamed by the mayor after it reneged on an agreement and evicted people from the premises leaving them with ‘nowhere to go.’

Britannia Hotels has also come under fire for sacking staff and evicting them from their live-in accommodation.

Those who are sleeping rough or homeless are considered to be one of the most vulnerable groups to the Covid-19 virus. They are more likely to have underlying health conditions and respiratory problems as well as being socially isolated.

Making the announcement yesterday, in a statement the mayor said: “The negative impact street homelessness can have on a person’s mental and physical health is well known and that is before you take into account the very real risks posed by possibly catching coronavirus.

“We have moved swiftly to work with our 10 local authorities, NHS and the private and faith sectors to source enough accommodation in some of our city-region’s large hotels for everyone who needs it.

“We are assisting some people accommodated in A Bed Every Night into these rooms while others are being supported from the streets or from situations where they are experiencing an imminent risk of sleeping rough. We will provide essential services of food, access to medicines, targeted support and somewhere safe to stay during an incredibly challenging time for them.”

Last week, the government announced £3.2 million in funding in emergency funding to local authorities for those sleeping rough during the outbreak.

The council is directing anyone who needs support or advice to go online first as the town hall Customer Service Centre is now closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A specific coronavirus page for homeless people has been set up here, and in an emergency, people can also ring directly on 0161 234 4692 to access help.

Mayor Andy Burnham added: “I said when I was elected that I wanted to end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020 – this is helping to deliver on that, and I am determined to keep to my word in spite of this pandemic.

“Greater Manchester is a compassionate society – we don’t just walk on by. We have a moral and ethical duty to help those living vulnerable and dangerous lives on the streets, and I am proud of the package we have put in place.

“No-one should have to sleep rough, especially at this uncertain time, and here in Greater Manchester we are making sure no-one has to.”

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