There has been lots of recent publicity surrounding the kindness and goodwill of two Manchester United legends, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. The two former football superstars allowed a group of Manchester’s street homeless to reside within a property which they have purchased with the view to developing.
The local press dubbed the former Manchester Stock Exchange building as the ‘hotel for hope’ as it provided a place to stay during the cold winter months. The pair also provided the new residents with three meals per day which were prepared by a Michelin star Chef from Hotel Football situated next to Old Trafford football ground. The homeless were also provided with showers which they had arranged and funded to be erected within the building. It is rumoured that Giggs and Neville spent £150,000 to adapt the property into a habitable condition for the homeless residents.
The barrage of media coverage led to a mass donation of food, clothing, and bedding for the city’s homeless, as well as a promise by housing groups that they would provide more assistance in an attempt to provide accommodation. The pair’s actions appeared to spark a fresh campaign to tackle the homeless problem within the North West. It was hoped that Local Authorities would take a proactive approach by providing further support for the street homeless, not by merely a roof over their heads, but my providing services would allow the homeless to better their lives.
However, despite the public’s positive approach towards the project, there has been no new approach by the regions local authorities to help the region’s street homeless. The doors of the ‘Hotel for Hope’ have now closed after providing three months of respite for the group. There had been promises from local mental health organisations (due to a large percentage of the street homeless suffering from a mental health condition) to provide assistance. However, none of these promises have come to fruition and many of the group face a bleak future as they have now left the hotel.
One of the group members who has recently left the hotel stated, “I have been getting panicked in the last couple of days about what is going to happen to me now’’. This clearly outlines the uncertainty which many of the regions street homeless face. Another member of the group acknowledged the Local Authorities assistance, however, he stated ‘’The council opened up two night shelters but they will close in March. So many people will just be back on the streets. Some new squats have opened up in the city centre but they are dangerous places. The hostels are not good places’’.
Recent research outlines the problem of homelessness within the region, it is said that there are approximately 80 people living rough within Manchester City centre. This has dramatically increased from the 12 cases reported in 2010. Although this relates to Manchester, the issue of homelessness is becoming an ever-increasing worry for many of the Local Authorities within the North West.
In certain circumstances, the Local Authority are under a duty to provide accommodation to those who are in the unfortunate position of being homeless or becoming street homeless. If you find yourself in this predicament then visit your Local Authority immediately and ask them for a ‘homeless interview’. The Local Authority are under a duty to complete an interview with you to allow them to assess your situation.
If you find yourself in the position where the Local Authority refuse to interview you, or refuse to provide you with temporary accommodation you should contact our specialist housing team immediately. You can call us on 0175 321 6399 or by completing our online form and we will contact you.
By Jamie Gordon, housing law, graduate paralegal