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SALFORD HOMELESS OUT ON STREETS AS NARROWGATE SHELTER SHUTS
 

Star date: 10th May 2013

SALFORD COUNCIL COMPASSION DEFICIT AS NIGHT SHELTER SHUTS

"Withdrawing support for homeless people who have fallen on hard times is clearly contrary to our values." Blackpool Council

Around 28 homeless people have been chucked back out on the streets of Salford as the Narrowgate emergency night shelter closed its doors this week, following a judgement in Wales around the classification of shelters.

Salford Council could have chosen to show compassion but, so far, has decided to do nothing…

Full details here…


Narrowgate Night Shelter Salford Narrowgate Night Shelter Salford
click image to enlarge

The Narrowgate Night Shelter in Salford, which provided emergency beds for up to 28 people a night, closed this week after a judgement in Wales meant that the shelter no longer qualifies as someone's home under housing benefit rules.

The benefit was the Shelter's main source of income, signed over by those who used the shelter and paid by Salford Council which then claimed the money back from central government.

Under the new ruling housing benefit has been stopped for these people as the shelter, being an emergency facility, cannot guarantee a dwelling for a 24 hour period, nor guarantee a bed the following night. The Council can no longer claim back the benefits and has stopped paying Narrowgate, forcing it to close.

However, Blackpool Council last week chose to keep funding its homeless shelter while it looks into the suspension of benefits and possible reviews of the judgement…

"It is important that the existing night shelters are sufficiently funded to allow them to continue to carry out their good work" said Councillor Gillian Campbell, Blackpool's Cabinet member for Housing and Public Protection "We are aware of the very recent judicial decision and are now looking at its implications, both for the operation of the shelters and for their long-term viability.

"This is a decision which may be subject to review and will, no doubt, have repercussions across the country" she added "In the meantime we will be supporting the night shelters as much as we can, as withdrawing support for homeless people who have fallen on hard times is clearly contrary to our values."

Unlike Blackpool, however, a Salford Council spokesperson told the Salford Star that while it praised the work of the Narrowgate Night Shelter, "This is a legally binding ruling which applies to all councils and we must obey the law. We are exploring options with the charity and are keeping a careful eye out for any increase in rough sleepers."

While Salford Council `obeys' the ruling, up to 28 homeless people, men and women, will now possibly be sleeping rough in the city, perhaps almost trebling the official numbers which were previously around ten (see previous Salford Star article – click here and click here). Five staff at Narrowgate have also been made redundant.

"You could argue that Salford Council is blameless as it has just enforced a point of law" says Narrowgate's manager, Phil Brown "but it has not shown compassion in enforcing the judgement. They could have tried, perhaps, to find a way around it."

He adds that there is anecdotal evidence already of people who formerly used the shelter getting into difficulties. One man waited for six hours in a Council office trying to appeal the decision, while the Government's homeless initiative, No Second Night Out, has already let down another former shelter user who waited outside McDonald's for eight hours for someone to turn up, which they never did.

"Indeed" says Phil Brown "Narrowgate received homeless people who had been evicted from the local No Second Night Out scheme, so an alternative, like Narrowgate, is desperately needed."

In the last three years, 135 organisations across the city have referred 2,200 people to Narrowgate for emergency overnight help. Of these, over 865 have gone on to find more permanent accommodation.

"How can the Government and the law makers allow the closure of a shelter like this to happen when, on the surface, they are saying they want to help homeless people?" asks Phil "We gave these people an evening meal, some quality sleep and a morning breakfast, which helped them to engage with agencies, turn up for appointments and find solutions to their problems. These people are now on the streets, hidden again, and fighting for survival."

The closure of Narrowgate follows the closure of Royal Court wet house earlier this year (see here) and withdrawal of funding from Lancaster House in 2011 (see here). As the affects of the Bedroom Tax and Universal Credits kick in, homelessness in Salford is only expected to grow (see here).

As Narrowgate is part of Manchester City Mission, a Christian organisation, it can't appeal to the general public for funds, however, Phil Brown explains that "if individuals, companies or organisations would like to explore ways of assisting us to provide emergency help and longer term hope for homeless people, I would be very happy to talk to you."

In the meantime, it is hoped that Salford City Council will have a change of heart, and, like Blackpool Council, fill the funding deficit, rather than continue with its compassion deficit.

For further details on the closure of Narrowgate and the work of Manchester City Mission click here

Messenger wrote
at 23:42:32 on 18 May 2013
They find funding to spend on park toys. Park looks ok. But spend more money we dont have. Buille hill park to get 1.5 million. At least when families are homeless they can play on park. How many decision makers live in Salford!
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 13:03:24 on 12 May 2013
Marry is correct. We are seeing stress across the UK as Councils fail in such as news today from "Solihull" caused by the bedroom tax. I do have a good mind to stand in the local Weaste and Seedley election as an Independent with one big message NO TO BEDROOM TAX. We read elected politicians make profits on sales of homes provided with taxpayer money while we see the plight of families being devastated by Bedroom Tax that all parties are implementing. WHY? Please read this sad news @ http://uk.news.yahoo.com/bedroom-tax-woman-commits-suicide-235309248.html#ISiVqA4 Things must change.
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 08:21:11 on 12 May 2013
The sooner this government are shown the door the better. As for Salford Council,they are no better. They don't know the meaning of the of the word compassion. They can't fine the funding for this shelter until they look at this new ruling, but they can find £600.000 emergency funding for SALFORD CITY STADIUM. That shows where the priorities of this Labour run Council are. I would say they should hang their heads in shame,but I don't think they know the meaning of the word. Spicer and Co will never have to worry about when their next benefit is coming or if there will be a bed for the night at a shelter. And the same can be said for Cameron and co.This is a total disgrace. "There but for the grace of god go, you or I"
 
Luckily got a home wrote
at 22:50:47 on 10 May 2013
If I was homeless and got kicked out I would find myself a bed at the townhall then the council will take some action when I am sleeping in the council chamber having not washed for a week.
 
Michael Felse wrote
at 16:46:27 on 10 May 2013
I fear this is part of the Government ploy aimed at enforcing Bedroom Tax eviction orders, in that they can prove people need to be taken in as lodgers. Is it now a socialist policy to force people onto the street or force housing benefit claimants with one spare room to have to take in an enforced lodger. Shame on Salford Council for not finding answers.
 
clay whitter wrote
at 15:48:47 on 10 May 2013
Compassion and big hearts it two word assosiated with salfordians shame our sickening council wouldnt know this as information like that would need a brain to process it! Your a discrace salford council and when the tide turn people will pay! Karma is a beautiful thing. Only when it catches up you it will be otherwise!
 
Tahir Chakotai - Joint Chair Of T.I.E.T.A.R.A wrote
at 15:48:26 on 10 May 2013
Its so sad, to hear that another homeless resource has been closed down. Although this is not the fault of Salford Council, I am a little disappointed by their lack of commitment, to find a way around this problem. Because of The Salford Councils defeatist attitude, concerning this funding issue, the poor and destitute, are yet again suffering. I find this unexceptable. I think it is about time, the Salford Councils Joint Legal Team put their heads together, and use their joint resources, to resolve this homeless crisis.
 
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