Businesses urged to tackle homelessness In Manchester

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Two Manchester-based organisations have called for businesses to do more to tackle homelessness.

Homelessness is a major problem in Manchester, a 2016 study found that people visibly sleeping rough on the streets has risen 33 percent in Manchester alone.

Noisy Cricket and Hyper Island want to tackle that. Tash Wilcock of Hyper Island believes that tackling homelessness is incredibly important and that businesses can have a major impact on that.

“It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be hard and it’s not going to be fast but we need to get there. We can’t do this alone we need to do it together.

“I think that really hit home with a lot of people. If we don’t do this together we are not going to solve this problem.”

Homelessness goes beyond those sleeping rough. Wilcock stressed that there are people who are homeless, despite not visibly being on the street.

“When people think about homelessness, people think about the sharp point which is the people that you see on the street.

“It’s almost like an iceberg, its not just people sleeping on the streets and we do see a lot of them in Manchester, it’s also people in temporary accommodation”

This is an area Wilcock feels businesses can really help. Companies such as Pret A Manger run programmes for those that are in that position, in the hope of giving them some stability which may lead to another job.

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Talking about the work Pret A Manger do Tash Wilcock said: “It just gives you that little bit of stability which might lead into  your next job.

“It might be serving coffee in another coffee shop, but it might actually be training up to be a chef.

“It might be that you have come in with a lot of skill sets you just needed that stability to get back into the world of work”

Shockingly, only 15 percent of those that have experienced homelessness are able to find employment.

Tash Wilcock feels that a homeless person finding a job is worth much more than the financial aid it will give them, but how it will help them rebuild their lives:

“Having a job isn’t just about gaining money, but it’s also having a sense of belonging.”

Pret A Manger currently intake 30 to 50 homeless people a year, if more companies were to do something similar it would have a major impact on the amount of people suffering from homelessness.

Pret A Manger’s business model won’t work for everyone however, Tash says: “I feel if Pret’s model worked for everyone then everybody would be doing it.

“We need different models, different ways of approaching this.

“What are the barriers preventing businesses from doing this, but equally what are homeless peoples barriers.”

On the situation Manchester finds itself in, Tash said: “I live in the city centre I see it everyday and it’s getting worse.

“Everyone’s looking at Manchester, if we can make a change and show that we can really really make something happen it could trigger the rest of the country.

“We’re sitting in an important place where we can make a massive impact at the moment, and getting businesses involved will mean we can make that step forward.”

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