On the 13th March, Caritas Diocese of Salford welcomed Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester to the Cornerstone Centre. Andy spent the day visiting established organisations that are provided services to people experiencing homelessness across Manchester.
Since being elected in May 2017, Andy has personal commitment to tackling the issue of homelessness and has pledged to end rough sleeping by 2020.
Sr. Lucy Dunne greeted Andy Burnham and welcomed his support for the Cornerstone does. Sr Lucy, now in her 80’s has been serving tirelessly at the Cornerstone Centre for the past 15 years.
Andy Burnham took time to speak and listen to clients as he was given a tour of the Centre and its services, including the ‘Safe Haven’ night shelter or ‘Pods’ and the Morning Star Hostel.
In a round table discussion with Andy, Ivan a homeless sofa surfer in his 50’s and service user of Cornerstone said: “I have never seen such sad times as we are seeing now, it almost takes my imagination to the 80s…because people are dropping like flies”.
Andy Burnham responded: “It is linked to cuts to a certain extent, but it also something deeper which is the insecurity of modern life. You’ve got cuts, but they have come at a time when work has become insecure (with zero hours contract) which is also combined with insecure housing. That is the change since the 80s…now people are poor but also without the stability of housing and employment”
Three years ago, Cornerstone was not providing any accommodation support. Due to the significant rise in homelessness, Cornerstone can now accommodate up to 70 people per night, through the Safe Haven Pods (26 beds), 5 shared houses, and 16 be Hostel.
In the last year alone (since May 2017 to present) the charity has helped to provide accommodation to 178 people, with 70 of those being supporting into more permanent accommodation. Caritas successfully received funding in January 18 for three years from Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund to establish the ‘Door Steps – From the Street to Suite’ accommodation project, to underpin this growing work in accommodation.
Caritas has been asked to present this growing work at the Greater Manchester Faith Sector Homelessness Summit that is taking place at Methodist Central Hall at 12pm on 27th March. Andy Burnham will also be attending the event, and looking at how faith sector can better link together in response to the growing need.
Andy also shared his ideas for how the Business Homeless Network can support establish providers like Cornerstone. He also mentioned the Mayoral Homeless Fund and encouraged Cornerstone to apply for funding: “We wanted to invest more in the people and established organisations that are doing such great work”.