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'It will save lives' - Inside Manchester's first 24-hour homeless shelter

A new 24-hour homeless shelter hopes to offer a new lifeline to Manchester's rough sleepers.

Housing organisation Riverside is opening the centre, which will provide round-the-clock support for those sleeping there.

Credit: MEN Media

53-year old Ross Jenkins has first-hand experience of why it's needed.

Ross, who spent decades battling alcoholism, on and off the streets, believes that many face similar problems to him - and believes that the introduction of Universal Credit could put people at a disadvantage.

This new benefit system, Universal Credit - that’s going to cause tidal waves of misery.

– Ross Jenkins

Earlier this week the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised an extra £1bn over five years to provide extra protection for people on tax credits.

Credit: MEN Media

Ross now works at the new centre and he says that round the clock support is a significant step forward.

One of the things people would ask in the morning is ‘where do I go now?’ - and I couldn’t answer it.

– Ross Jenkins

Kevin, 46, and Lisa, 50 (not their real names) know how tough life can be on the streets.

Both say they were separately kicked out of hostels after disagreements with the managers. They ended up sleeping in doorways during the coldest months of 2017.

Lisa said:

At the time it was quite miserable and very cold. We had three duvets and a couple of shopping trolleys and got a lot of people coming round giving things out and giving warm sleeping bags.

– Lisa
Kevin and Lisa, former rough sleepers Credit: MEN Media

Eleanor Watts, who is in charge of the new centre, hopes that the round-the-clock support from workers and volunteers will help people to find their feet.

Support is the most important thing, to get them permanent accommodation. It’s a step. It’s one of the basic steps. We want to get people leading their own independent lives.

– Eleanor Watts, Area Manager
Eleanor Watts, area manager for Riverside Credit: MEN Media

The new centre marks the beginning of the "bed every night" plan drawn up by Andy Burnham.

From today, the first 260 beds will open, set to be followed by more. Local takeaways and restaurants will provide hot food for free in the evening.

Credit: MEN Media

If as Manchester - and Greater Manchester together - we do this, it shows the will of people to do something about this tragedy.

– Eleanor Watts