One year after it opened The Longford Centre in Chorlton has prevented close to 200 people from being forced onto the streets.
“Everybody had the same thing in common, we were all in need of somewhere to live.”
Widening inequality has resulted in more and more people teetering on the edge of homelessness in Manchester. The loss of a job, medical problems, substance misuse or family breakdown can all lead to the loss of a secure roof over someone’s head.
Also, because of benefit reforms instituted by central government, safeguards which once prevented people from falling through the cracks have been stripped away.
Manchester City Council is determined to prevent as many people as possible from ending up without a home, which is why 12 months ago, the Longford Centre opened its doors.
Focusing on individuals who have lost a roof over their head, staff at the centre work to get people the support, skills and often simply the stability they need to get back into safe and secure accommodation.
Since opening in January 2018 the centre has accepted 268 people into the centre, with to date, 181 being successfully rehoused into privately rented accommodation.
This success not only indicates the tremendous effort of the staff at the Longford Centre, but also the scale of the problem homelessness poses to the people of Greater Manchester.
One of the residents, John, lived in tied accommodation - a home provided to you by your employer and linked to the job you do. But, once his employer decided his job was no longer needed, he found himself with no job, and nowhere to live.
After being referred to the Longford Centre he was able, with help from the staff, to get a stable footing from which he could find a new home.
He said: “It got me access to accommodation that I would not normally have been able to access. Also it provided me with a roof over my head when the need was there. I was in tied accommodation previously and the landlord decided he didn’t need me anymore so when the job went the accommodation went with immediate effect.
“Everybody [at the centre] had the same thing in common. We were all in need of somewhere to live. There was camaraderie and mutual support, certainly in the group I was in."
Molly, who also used the Longford Centre, said: “My life was crap and I even thought of topping myself. I went to the Longford Centre and I was greeted by a lady with a big smile who offered me a cup of tea, then I was shown to my room which was clean.
“I met my Move on Worker, who helped me loads. He phoned the right people and sorted out the mess that had been made along the way. He was always understanding and listened, very professional and non-judgemental, and all staff I came across were helpful and help in any way they can. I felt safe there.
“I would love to say a big thank you for a centre like this, and for all the caring staff. I brought them cakes as a thank you but it will never be enough for the amount of work these lovely people do.”
Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “To have seen the Longford Centre go from strength to strength over the past 12 months is testament to the effort the staff and residents have made.
“Homelessness is not just people sleeping on our streets, but people sleeping on sofas, in their cars or relying on the support of friends or family. This is not something anyone should have to go through which is why the Longford Centre is such a valuable asset to us, offering individuals a brief respite and the time needed to get back into a home of their own.”
John Basham, 60, known as ‘Bash’, spent seven weeks at the Longford Centre. He said: “I couldn’t be better. I’ve got my own place I’ve got my independence back. If it weren’t for these lot I’d have had nowhere to go.
“I’d bend over backwards for these. It’s like one big happy family. You’re nervous at first but I’d do anything for these.
“It’s a good organisation and what they’re doing is good.”
22-year-old Yonel Martin lived at the Centre for two months before being successfully rehomed. He said: “I stayed here for eight weeks, then they got me a house in Levenshulme. They paid for my first month’s rent.”