The Longford Centre in Chorlton, a new homelessness prevention centre officially opens today (13 March 2018).
The 38-bed centre in Chorlton, a former residential home, has been transformed to provide accommodation to help single people and childless couples who have recently become homeless move on to independent accommodation, employment and training and to help turn their lives around.
Support is flexible and tailored to what each resident needs. It is particularly important for people, already in work that they have somewhere stable to stay so that they keep their jobs while they get the help they need to get them back on their feet and ready to move on to independent accommodation.
The centre received its first referral on 15 January this year and so far has helped 35 people stay off the streets. Currently, there are 25 residents staying in the centre. Eight people have already found new homes in the private rented sector and two residents have been reunited with their families and returned home.
Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "The opening of the Longford Centre is a very important part of our strategy in tackling homelessness across Manchester. It is great news that in the two months that the centre has been open that it has helped so many people. It is doing what we wanted it to, which is to provide help to people quickly so that when people first fall into difficulty there is the necessary support to prevent them falling further into that cycle of homelessness.
"I would like to thank the staff and volunteers for their hard work in making this centre a success. "
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: "The opening of the Longford Centre is a significant moment as we work together to tackle the humanitarian crisis that is homelessness and rough sleeping in Greater Manchester.
“We do things differently here – turning this former care home into vital accommodation is an innovative and impressive solution. The hard-working members of staff here provide essential support for people who have only recently become homeless.
“It’s another example of the steps we’re taking towards our goal of ending rough sleeping in Manchester by 2020.”
The centre is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents are encouraged to take part in wider activities on offer in the centre including cooking courses and gardening and support is available to help people with finances, debt problems, managing budgets, benefits advice as well as finding employment and access to training.
The support services on offer have been jointly designed through the Manchester Homelessness Partnership by the council, voluntary sector and public sector organisations who work with homeless people and with people who have experienced homelessness themselves.
The Longford Centre is a Manchester City Council run facility with some Greater Manchester Combined Authority funding.
Casper Thomas, 30, one of the first residents to move into the Longford Centre, has been helped to move on to independent accommodation in Stretford and this is his story.
Casper worked at Nando's but following a relationship breakdown ended up living with a friend and when that came to an end he had nowhere to go. He was in temporary accommodation for four months before he was referred to the Longford Centre in January this year.
" I was very nervous and when I first arrived I felt overwhelmed with the amount of support that was offered to me which made me feel safe.
"While I was here I felt fully supported in my journey towards independent living again. Within two days I was encouraged to actively begin my house search. Without the help of the Council's bond scheme and the help with the months' rent upfront from the centre I would not be in the position I am in today. Although I was working full-time I found it really difficult to save for a deposit on my own.
"Another reason the Longford centre helped was because of the 24 hour support which was available to me.
"After four months in a bed and breakfast to then within two weeks have a place to live independently is amazing and all I can do is thank everyone at the centre for my second chance at life.
"I hope to come back to volunteer one day so that I can give back something to the service that helped me."