Salford Primary Care Together (SPCT) coordinates GPs across Salford to improve primary care in the city. The organisation also runs a practice especially designed for homeless people.
Susan Turner, health and social care manager at SPCT, explains that she took part in the Manchester Sleep Walk to try to do her bit to make things better for homeless people.
She added: “They’re very vulnerable, very fragmented, with austerity obviously the homeless population has increased hugely across this city as well as across others around the country. So, to show solidarity and raise money and put that effort in, it goes a long way.”
— Salford Primary Care Together (@SPCTogetherCIC) December 12, 2019
Evie Soares is the health navigator for the homeless practice, and sees the effects of homelessness in Salford first-hand. She said: “When I first started and I was told about the homeless GP service, I just thought it’s not something that I’d want to do – I didn’t want to work with homeless people.
“But then once I started working with them and having a face-to-face and personal contact with them, it made me realise that these people are normal people, like me, that just had an unlucky break.It’s opened my eyes to homelessness and to the fact that it could happen to anybody.”
The homeless practice reaches out to rough sleepers in Salford to make sure they are registered with a GP and receive the help they need.
Often, this is a first step in reconnecting with the community and eventually finding a home of their own.
Ms Soares added: “The most rewarding thing is when we get people to move on and we have a positive result.”
The practice currently cares for about 450 patients, but the number varies when people are housed or find themselves homeless.
When patients find a permanent accommodation, they are asked to register with a mainstream GP.
Almost 700 people took part in the walk which followed landmarks of the city centre of Manchester, and Shelter expected to raise up to £120,000.
John Ryan, hub manager for Shelter in Greater Manchester, thanked the walkers for their commitment.
He said: “We hope this will enable us to deliver the services to homeless people in Manchester who are desperately in need of advice and support.”
In Salford, Shelter estimates that there are 157 children in temporary accommodation, without a home to call their own.
— Salford Primary Care Together (@SPCTogetherCIC) December 11, 2019
Mr Ryan added: “That’s a situation that we cannot tolerate. We have to do something about it and Shelter is doing something about this.”
He added many factors are to blame for the rise in homelessness.
He added: “I think the problem is nationwide, and there’s been lots of issues as to why we’ve got here: the universal credit, housing benefit being frozen for years, and we haven’t built enough social housing anywhere in Greater Manchester, and all across the north west.
“We’ve built 50-odd houses in the last year. Since the ‘right to buy’ was implemented across the country, in Greater Manchester we’ve lost 92,000 homes, 40 percent of which have turned up in the private rental sector, so what were affordable homes, are now unaffordable.
“What we need is commitment to build social homes.”
Twelve-year old Tiffany, Ms Soares’s daughter, was also walking with the group.
She said: “I think that it’s quite unfair that they have all these people with lots of money, and then we have all these people sitting on the street without food or shelter. I would like to make an impact on the people who are living on the streets and try to change it.
She added that children of her age don’t always realise the extent of the problem.
She said: “I think that people see it but I don’t think they notice how bad it actually is. They just don’t really acknowledge it as much.”
Discover the route of the Manchester Sleep Walk below:
Map by Niki Charalambous