Life without running water, sanitation, heating, washing or cooking facilities is not something that anyone should experience in the 21st century.
Life on the streets is also dangerous and harmful to health. Average life expectancy in Manchester is 79 for men and 83 for women: for rough sleepers, it’s 47 for men and just 43 for women.
Homelessness is a growing problem in Manchester. We’ve seen an increasing number of people street begging and sleeping rough – including in tents – which has caused concern among residents, businesses and visitors alike. It’s a complex issue, however, and working with rough sleepers can be a long process. Not everyone that you see on Manchester’s streets is unsupported:
- Some rough sleepers need ongoing support to move them away from the streets. This can take time; a lot of work is often being done behind the scenes by the council, health and voluntary services.
- Some rough sleepers have been offered accommodation or other support many times, but have been unwilling, or unable, to take that help.
- Some are street beggars who already have accommodation elsewhere. This may be the case for a number of people who beg in South Manchester.
The best way to help is to encourage people who are street begging and/or sleeping rough to access long-term support. The city has come together under the Manchester Homelessness Partnership to tackle the challenge.
Stephanie Moore and Becky Elliott run Chorlton’s Reach Out to the Community: “We’re one of several organisations in the partnership that offers very practical and direct help, from arranging medical appointments to supplying food, clothes or travel costs. In common with the City Council and other agencies, we ask that you don’t give money to homeless people directly: it really doesn’t help them. By doing so, you’re incentivising begging and possibly enabling an addiction.”
Here’s how you can make a difference:
- Work with local groups like Reach Out to the Community
- Become part of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership by signing the Manchester Homelessness Charter and making a pledge;
- Donate to Big Change – a partnership fundraising campaign across Manchester. Find out what really helps people to get off the streets, rather than sustaining them there.
“Homeless people deserve better lives, away from the streets,” says Stephanie. “They need support, respect and encouragement to engage with the help that’s available – and that help is definitely out there.”
Find out more by visiting the Street Support Network.