Last week saw the inaugural meeting of Bury's Homeless Action Partnership, which brought together representatives from the public sector, third sector organisations, voluntary groups, faith communities and housing providers to work as one and focus on early intervention and prevention.
The launch of Bury's partnership follows similar moves at a Greater Manchester level to better coordinate all the work that goes on to help homeless people and those who are rough sleeping. Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has made the ambitious pledge to end rough sleeping by 2020 and highlighted the need for more than just local Councils to take responsibility for fixing the crisis.
Across Greater Manchester there has been a 361% INCREASE in rough sleeping since 2010 and a 236% INCREASE of people in temporary accommodation.
In Bury, the trends are also on the up and this is adding further pressure to services that are already under strain. Currently, it is estimated there are at least 10 rough sleepers in Bury and there are 171 people in Bury's temporary accommodation - up from 136 only two years ago.
The main reasons in Bury for homelessness are: 1) Loss of rented accommodation; 2) Violence; 3) Parents no longer willing/able to accommodate; 4) Required to leave accommodation provided by Home Office as asylum support.
The Homeless Action Partnership will look further into these factors, and the wider issues surrounding the issue, in order to better prevent homelessness and offer support at the earliest opportunity to avoid people becoming trapped into a vicious cycle.
This year also saw the introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act, which requires more joint efforts from all public sectors partners to help reduce homelessness. The partnership will therefore be a key part in discharging this duty for colleagues in health, emergency services and education.
Councillor Eamonn O'Brien, who is the Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing, helped launch the Homeless Action Partnership saying: "It is great to see so many different organisations and agencies come together to help eradicate the scandal of homelessness in this day and age. Everyone has a right to safe, decent and secure housing and we all have a moral duty to ensure we deliver on that basic human right.
"Some may say that our aim to eradicate rough sleeping by 2020 is too ambitious, but when it comes to this issue we are absolutely right to be ambitious. My question to those who doubt our aim is: would you accept a target that says we're happy to help only 50% or even 90% and deal with the rest later? I'm sure most people wouldn't accept it, that's why we are doing all we can to not just make the pledge but start delivering on it too."