The capacity of the church-backed Winter Night Shelter has more than doubled with the opening of a new shelter. Churches now provide one fifth of shelters for Manchester’s rough sleepers – 27 beds every night. Homelessness is a growing problem across the whole of Greater Manchester, with more and more people seen sleeping rough in the towns and city centre over the last five or six years.
The second night shelter is funded through the ‘A Bed Every Night’ scheme, set up by the Greater Manchester Mayor’s office. Nine out of the 10 venues used for the two shelters are Church of England buildings. Guests, who would otherwise be rough sleeping, sit down with volunteers to eat a hot meal every night and are supported during the day to find new accommodation and access benefits.
The Winter Night Shelter is run by Greater Together Manchester (a joint venture by the Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of Manchester). While there has been an increase in volunteers coming forward to run the shelters this winter, there is always a need for more. The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Dr David Walker, said, “Our churches play a vital role in tackling Manchester’s homelessness crisis and I’m pleased that more churches are coming on board to provide a safe, welcoming place to stay. By working with partners across the city we aim to make positive and lasting change.”