M20 Collective are back with another live music event fundraiser in conjunction with some local organisations who are fighting to support the living and housing issues in Manchester. Phil Marzouk, our good will envoy, explains what’s going wrong in our city!
Manchester is a city with a crisis. Last Tuesday, I walked the 0.4 miles between Manchester Piccadilly and Piccadilly Gardens, and passed 7 of the city centre’s 43 estimated rough sleepers. This number is only increasing. Since 2013, the number of people sleeping on Manchester’s streets has risen by 79%. However, these figures are calculated by council officials over one night, simply counting the number of rough sleepers. This is in fact a huge underestimation and doesn’t account for the city’s ‘hidden homeless’: those not found due to taking refuge in air raid shelters and caves or overlooked during the counts. Manchester’s Booth Centre, a day centre where homeless people can get free advice and support, state they currently see around 170 people a week.
However, even in the face of these rising numbers, Manchester City Council refuses to adequately engage with the city’s most vulnerable. Since April 2015, Homeless Rights of Justice Manchester have been setting up camp throughout the city centre in order to raise awareness of this issue and finally get the Council to act justly. The Council’s response was to seek injunctions against the camp rather than establish a dialogue. Due to the intervention of St. Anne’s Church, the camp currently resides safely on Church owned land in St. Anne’s Square, yet the Council pursues an injunction even here.
Blame does not lie solely with the local Council and is indicative of the issues that government cuts are causing for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, with benefits cuts contributing greatly to these rising numbers. In the wake of severe austerity measures in Westminster, Manchester City Council have had to cut their homelessness budget by £2 million right when the crisis is at its worst. Somehow, money is found to install anti homeless spikes within the town centre. Homeless Rights of Justice Manchester were denied legal aid in order to fight the Council’s continuing evictions, which reflects the national cuts of £350 million from the legal aid budget. You need only walk the streets of Manchester to see how the cuts are destroying the lives of those who need help the most.
So it’s time to start taking action. In conjunction with Coffee4Craig,one of Manchester’s leading homeless support charities, we’ll be hosting a fundraiser on the 13th of August at the Castle hotel with live music, a raffle and talks from local charity representatives and housing campaign group Generation Rent. Come down and find out how you can get involved. It’s time to stop letting our nation’s most vulnerable be dehumanised and abandoned.