January marked 12 months since the GM Homes Partnership was created. Partners, participants and case workers came together at the Royal Exchange Theatre to celebrate the first year of the programme and watch video case studies showing the stories of those involved in the initiative.
Dave Power, Group Chief Executive of One Manchester, opened the event, praising the partnership between the Greater Manchester Housing Providers, Bridges Fund Management and Trafford Housing Trust. He also commended the delivery partners — Shelter, The Brick and Great Places — for their commitment and innovative approach to sharing of best practice.
The Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, also spoke at the event, discussing the partnership’s approach to tackling homelessness, and how this three-year programme was “a new thing, no-one knew what would happen, or if it would work. Undoubtedly, it has.
“The people who make this initiative a success are the people who have been through it. This could happen to any one of us, we’re all just a few bits of bad luck away. But the people in the organisations involved are passionate people, doing more than just a job, and that shines through.”
To date, the GM Homes Partnership has supported 250 people into accommodation across Greater Manchester, giving them wrap around support including with mental health and addiction issues. This is more people accessing new homes in the first year than the initial target of 200 over the duration of the three-year programme. Many participants have also been helped into volunteering, education and work placements, with people like Jason, who has been helped by the partnership through delivery partner Shelter.
Jason said: “My support worker, Catherine, she knows what my hobbies and my interests are, and she came up with an idea for me. She said there’s an opportunity at Trafford Housing Trust, if you’re interested. Now I’m upcycling furniture, recycling it, working with my hands and it’s something I love doing.
“I’ve taken that opportunity with both hands, and it’s like all my Christmases have rolled into one. I want to prove to them that I can be an asset to the company, and hopefully they’ll employ me.”
The GM Homes Partnership has another two years of support to give. The focus for the next stage of the programme is addressing the systemic issues across Greater Manchester that may be contributing to homelessness and rough sleeping, and using evidence, co-production and learning to influence commissioning and identify new solutions.
It’s crucial that the initiative continues to work in partnership with health, housing and justice strategies to integrate services and break down historical barriers for individuals trapped in the system. The aim is to work towards prevention whilst continuing to support participants to move forward and realise their potential.