Up to a thousand homeless people to stay in hotels as part of £5m scheme

Date published: 26 March 2020

Up to a thousand homeless people across Greater Manchester will be put up in hotels to try and stop more people getting coronavirus.

A £5 million funding plan announced by regional mayor Andy Burnham will help those most at risk of developing and spreading the disease – rough sleepers and people in shared accommodation.

Currently 625 rooms have already been allocated in hotels across Greater Manchester, with the combined authority hoping to secure a further 375 by the end of the week.

Food, sanitary products and dental supplies will also be provided, with mobile phones allowing those staying to contact support workers and access ‘extra emotional support’.

Speaking at a mayoral briefing on coronavirus, Mr Burnham said the single rooms would be made available for people showing COVID-19 symptoms or needing to self-isolate.

“We have identified 720 people in shared accommodation and 280 people sleeping rough on the streets who will need our support,” he said.

“They have been identified as the highest risk group with regard to coronavirus infection, but also contributing to wider spread

“It’s absolutely crucial from a humanitarian point of view that urgent action was taken to put in place proper support for them.”

The plan agreed between Mr Burnham and the 10 council leaders in Greater Manchester will use funding that had been set aside for other uses.

It is being supported by the NHS and the Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network, which brings together people and groups working in the public and voluntary sectors.

Mr Burnham added: “This is very much a Greater Manchester effort; we’re doing what we can ourselves to respond in the best possible way.

“Because of this funding we can say we will be able to house all people who are sleeping rough or in shared accommodation.

“They can move soon to single room provision which we think is the right response to the situation we find ourselves in.”

Mobilisation is underway to ensure prepared meals will be delivered to hotel accommodation daily.

This will use existing day centre and soup kitchens operating in the city-region, alongside restaurants who will no longer be opening their doors and express a willingness to participate.

A number of former rough sleepers accommodated in hotels will also be supplied with mobile phones to enable them to remain in contact with support workers.

There is a commitment under the new system to continue, as much as is practicable, to provide people with mental and physical health support.

This will include, clinical psychologist mental health support, drug dependency support including prescription service and wellbeing support.

Local authorities have identified taxi firms that they are able to call on to be used in the first instance to transport individuals to the hotel rooms.

TfGM is supporting the procurement of a Greater Manchester-wide black cab contract that can transfer individuals, staff, and belongings consistently over an initial 12-week period.

Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter; Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter

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