Along with Greater Manchester’s largest affordable housing providers, we have joined forces with the Mayor of Greater Manchester to improve opportunities for young people who have previously lived in care.
Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) is made up of 27 housing organisations who collectively own and manage over 250,000 affordable homes in the area, housing over half a million of the city region’s residents.
The partnership, which offers support, funding and employment opportunities to the local community, signed a pledge to improve opportunities for hundreds of young people leaving care every year, alongside Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
The providers signed the pledge during a virtual meeting, which included Paul Dennett - City Mayor of Salford, Paul Marshall - Strategic Director of Children and Education Services at Manchester City Council, Mark Riddell - National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers at the Department for Education, and poet Lemn Sissay.
The pledge commits each housing provider to offer quality and stable housing to care leavers, in addition to employment and skills opportunities plus peer mentoring. Each organisation will also identify a champion to advocate for care leavers and improved services within the individual company and its suppliers.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Good housing is critical to a happy and healthy life. It is the foundation that everyone needs and insecure housing is at the root of so many of our problems as a society.
“We know life as a care leaver can be hard. Without the safety nets so many of us take for granted, such as parental support, everyday living can be a struggle when faced with barriers most people never encounter. In co-signing this commitment alongside Greater Manchester Housing Providers and others, we are restating our support for Greater Manchester’s care leavers. It is also why a year ago the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) introduced the Care Leavers Guarantee and a Common Core Offer, backed by more than half a million pounds of Government funding. I want Greater Manchester to act as the parents of all our city-region’s care leavers.”
Jon Lord, Chair of Greater Manchester Housing Providers and Group Chief Executive of Bolton at Home, said: “This pledge is a recognition that we have to work together to improve the opportunities for young people who have experienced care. It is a recognition that some young people are dealt a tougher hand in life, and it is our responsibility as a community to ensure that we can work together to support them to have safe and stable housing, plus finding them good jobs and training to succeed in life.
“We have spoken to a number of young people who have been in care and they are clear about the need for a safe and secure home that they have a stake in, as well as flexible responsive support to ensure the move from care is a success. They are also clear that support with employment training will help them successfully move from being in care into independent living.”
Sasha Deepwell, Chief Executive of Irwell Valley Homes, added: "We know first hand that young care leavers are disproportionally disadvantaged and we must stop this. Across a number of our supported housing scheme we are supporting young carers to develop independent living skills, access employment and training and get on in life. This new pledge reaffirms our collective sense of responsibility and continued commitment to making a difference to the lives of young people leaving care across Greater Manchester.
The pledge commits each housing provider to providing suitable accommodation to care leavers, in addition to support in the transition from living in care to living independently.
This commitment can include support on managing money, rights around repairs and learning the skills to maintain a safe home and avoid the risk of homelessness. Additionally, volunteering, employment and skills training will be offered to all care leavers, alongside a peer mentor to help them start a career, with all care leavers offered a guaranteed interview for jobs they apply for with the providers.
In addition to the pledge being signed by all 27 Greater Manchester Housing Providers, each organisation will also encourage its suppliers to sign the pledge and offer a similar level of support to care leavers.
GMHP is made up of housing associations and arms-length management organisations (ALMOs) across the City Region, including: Arawak Walton Housing Association, Arcon Housing Association, Bolton at Home, First Choice Homes Oldham, ForViva, Great Places Housing Group, The Guinness Partnership, Irwell Valley Homes, Jigsaw Homes, Johnnie Johnson Housing, Mosscare St Vincent’s, Nacro, Northwards Housing, One Manchester, Onward Homes, Regenda Group, Riverside, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, Salix Homes, Sanctuary Housing, Six Town Housing, Southway Housing Trust, Stockport Homes, Together Housing, Trafford Housing Trust, Wigan Council and Wythenshawe Community Housing Group.
In the last year alone, GMHP members have supported 6,500 residents towards work, awarded £2.2 million of grants for community-run projects, housed close to 2,000 people who were previously homeless and built more than 1,200 new homes.