Mayor de­mands more to help the home­less

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By JEN­NIFER WILLIAMS jen­ @jen­williams­men

GREATER Manch­ester’s mayor has is­sued a no-non­sense ul­ti­ma­tum to all public sec­tor bosses say­ing not enough is be­ing done to tackle the es­ca­lat­ing home­less­ness prob­lem.

Andy Burn­ham is de­mand­ing all or­gan­i­sa­tions – in­clud­ing coun­cils, GP lead­ers, the po­lice and hous­ing providers – take ur­gent and ‘im­me­di­ate’ ac­tion and come up over the next fort­night with plans to tackle the prob­lem.

Mr Burn­ham has grown frus­trated in re­cent months at the ris­ing num­ber of rough sleep­ers on the streets and be­lieves more short-term mea­sures could be taken to re­verse the trend, along­side longer-term plans to build new shel­ters and re­form the hous­ing sec­tor.

He is par­tic­u­larly keen to see va­cant public build­ings used as shel­ters – par­tic­u­larly as win­ter sets in – and to en­sure all home­less peo­ple have ac­cess to GP ser­vices. The re­gion’s public sec­tor chiefs were al­ready due to meet on Oc­to­ber 6 to dis­cuss ‘life readi­ness’ among teenagers, but in a blunt let­ter to them the mayor says the topic of that meet­ing has now been changed to home­less­ness.

“As mayor I have asked in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses and the vol­un­tary sec­tor to do more, and they have, now it is time for the public sec­tor to in­crease the ur­gency with which it re­sponds to home­less­ness and rough-sleep­ing,” he writes.

“I want you to think about what your or­gan­i­sa­tion can do in­di­vid­u­ally and what you can do col­lec- tively, work­ing to­gether with other public sec­tor part­ners. I am re­quest­ing that each body brings ideas of ac­tions that can be taken im­me­di­ately and in plan­ning for a longer term so­lu­tion.”

He lists a num­ber of spe­cific sug­ges­tions, in­clud­ing ask­ing the NHS to en­sure GPs pro­vide treat­ment to home­less peo­ple when­ever they need it, look­ing for va­cant prop­er­ties owned by hous­ing providers or other parts of the public sec­tor that could be opened up, and look­ing at how all au­thor­i­ties can work to­gether.

The let­ter has been sent to chief ex­ec­u­tives of all ten coun­cils, as well as the re­gion’s chief health of­fi­cer, Greater Manch­ester hous­ing providers, the county fire of­fi­cer, clin­i­cal com­mis­sion­ing lead­ers, men­tal health providers, the Depart­ment of Work and Pen­sions and the chief con­sta­ble. “This prob­lem is es­ca­lat­ing and needs to be gripped much more fun­da­men­tally by the sys­tem,” Mr Burn­ham added.

Baroness Joan Bakewell with head girl Polly White­ley and head boy Sami Za­man

Greater Manch­ester mayor Andy Burn­ham tours Manch­ester to meet the city’s home­less

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