IN today’s world where people are more interested in which size Christmas tree they’re going to pick or the sense of achievement they gain at ticking off that ‘perfect’ 100th present from their Christmas list, is it any wonder that the charity Shelter has released a report that has identified Manchester as the homelessness capital of the North West?
The report states that over 3,292 people are currently living in only momentary accommodation or sleeping rough on the city’s streets.
Walk around the streets on a Friday or Saturday night and you’d think the problem was even worse than the reality. It is estimated that for those 20 to 30 people you see on Deansgate on a weekend or even in the city’s popular nightlife district of Northern Quarter, a maximum of 10 are homeless with others predominantly ‘sofa surfing’ – a phrase used by majority of beggars, according to Shelter’s Manchester manager John Ryan.
John said: “The figures make for tragic reading. Shelter’s founding shone a light on hidden homelessness in the sixties slums. And whilst troubled times like those have faded into a distant memory, fifty years on we’re seeing a similar type of pressure with modern day housing crisis tightening its grip on our country
“It come from decades in the making, this is the tragic result of a nation struggling under the weight of sky-high rents, a lack of affordable homes, and cuts to welfare support”, he added.
Despite vast cuts to funding from central government, accelerating levels of homelessness as well as deaths on the rise on the streets of Manchester, the city council has put forward a pledge to spend an eye-watering £330 million on renovating the Town Hall.
However, it is believed the city council could spend the same amount of money on a brand new state of the art building, fix the entire homelessness situation throughout the city and still be left with £200 million.
A spokesperson for the council stated: “The Our Town Hall project is probably the country’s most complex and challenging heritage project after the planned schemes for the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.”
The project expected to begin in 2018 and to take around five to seven years to be completed is set to employ a Project Director earning up to £140,000 a year.
This comes after the news of Buckingham Palace having a refurbishment for £396m whilst Parliament has a revamp of nearly £7bn. Only showing more clearly how people believe how truly out-of-touch elected politicians are to the real issues and how people are suffering on their own doorsteps.
Whilst politicians, councillors and people alike might believe these ‘heritage projects’ to work alongside history and tradition by maintaining these cultural landmarks, it is not hard to see that these people are leading extremely different lives to those on the cold winter streets without comfort and insulation but instead poverty and horror.
With a city renowned for its food and drink, shown through its self-projected image of affluence through swanky restaurants, glitzy high-end shops and nightclubs, therefore it’s little wonder that this divides the worlds even more.