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Town hall to follow Gary Neville by opening empty buildings up to rough sleepers

As part of moves to radically boost the council’s homeless service, officers are scoping out vacant premises in a bid to provide winter shelter

Manchester council is to follow in Gary Neville’s footsteps – by opening up its empty buildings to rough sleepers.

As part of moves to radically boost the council’s homeless service – prompted by rising numbers and mounting public concern – officers are scoping out vacant premises in a bid to provide winter shelter, the M.E.N. can reveal.

It comes after United stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs allowed a group of rough sleepers to remain in their new Stock Exchange hotel until work begins.

According to a report discussed by councillors this week, the town hall’s move is one of a string of plans it is bringing forward in order to deal with the city’s mounting homelessness crisis .

Rough sleeping numbers have soared six-fold in Manchester since 2010. A new annual estimate of numbers is due to be done next month.

During the winter demand on soup kitchens, hostels and homeless drop-ins soars – with more than 200 different people using the council’s emergency cold weather service last winter.

It is also working with companies, charities and the voluntary sector to see if their empty buildings could also be used – and how they can be managed to ensure they are safe and well-managed.
Such buildings will be opened ‘as soon as is reasonably possible’, according to council sources.
However the town hall has declined to outline which ones it is looking at – or which companies it is is talking to – until arrangements are in place.
The move is the latest in a number of new policies introduced by the council amid rising public concerns over homelessness, fuelled by the activists in tents who have been moving around the city centre since April.
According to the council report a total of 84 extra beds are being reopened or set up, either by the council or partners such as Cornerstones.
A new rough sleeping team has also been set up within the council.
The town hall declined to comment on how much the policies – which follow several years of cuts to its homelessness and housing spending – are going to cost, or which other services are likely to be affected as a result.

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