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18 May 2021

Embassy Village plans submitted as charity gears up to tackle post-lockdown homelessness

A pioneering initiative to create a new community and help the city’s homeless and vulnerable men get back on their feet has taken a big step forward with plans submitted to Manchester City Council.

Manchester-based charity, Embassy, has joined forces with regeneration business Peel L&P and CAPITAL&CENTRIC as well as a pro bono team across the Manchester business community to provide up to 40 new permanent modular homes.

The charity is looking to transform a derelict site below the railway arches between the Bridgewater Canal and River Irwell, currently owned by Peel L&P, into a housing-led community with lots of communal and green space, mini allotments to grow vegetables and a multi-use sports area.

Embassy Village will enrol residents into a six hours per week one-to-one training and mentoring programme to provide the support they need to leave the cycle of homelessness, reintegrate back into society and find work.

Residents will be equipped with a range of life skills, including shopping, budgeting and cooking, and courses designed to help unpack past traumas will also be made available.

All potential residents will be interviewed and triaged in order to identify those that are ready to take up the combined opportunities of training, housing and routes into work. The village will not operate as a substance rehabilitation facility and, therefore, Embassy will refer applicants to a more specialist charity or suitable support service provider first where needed.

The submission of the Embassy Village proposals comes as the charity plans for its post-lockdown fight against homelessness and the city looks to adjust to the end of COVID emergency support schemes such as Everyone In. Government figures released in February this year found that Manchester had the second highest number of people sleeping rough in England, and question marks remain over the level of funding support that the council will receive as the country is released from lockdown. The charity’s vision for Embassy Village is to provide a longer term and sustainable way of helping to get the city’s most vulnerable men off the street by putting quality housing and wrap-around support at the heart of the solution.  

Sid Williams of Embassy said: “The big need in Manchester is to find a way to cut the time it takes for an individual to move on from homelessness. Last year we housed a chap who had spent 7 years going from shelter to shelter waiting for council housing to come up. Embassy Village will help reduce the burden on the council’s housing waiting list and end people's homelessness on the day they arrive. As residents will be renting their Embassy Village homes, we also hope to instil a strong sense of empowerment from day one.

“Embassy Village is being specifically designed as a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol consumption community. Critically, we train our residents to manage their money and home and support them into full time employment with a wide range of Manchester based, full-time employers. This means most people leave us to live in normal rental accommodation without the need for benefits thereafter. Our brilliant team continue to support our residents with aftercare visits and mentoring in the months after they move on to their next chapter, helping to keep them on an even keel as they reintegrate back into society.”

Of the 44 people that Embassy have helped to find next steps accommodation since the charity launched in 2019, none have returned to the street. The charity’s resettlement team works closely with residents to build their confidence, skills, and manage feelings of isolation, which can often lead to people slipping back through the net after being rehomed.

Embassy also plans to build on its successful track record of work readiness training and helping to find job opportunities for residents, with 12 companies already signed up to partner with the charity on Embassy Village and offer employment.

Cllr Lee-Ann Igbon, ward member for Hulme said: “After consultation with councillors and residents with full details of the proposed accommodation l support the Embassy proposed homeless housing in an under used site on the edge of the canal in the St Georges area. In a city that struggles to offer homes this unique opportunity enables a place of security, advice and rebuilding of vulnerable adults. The high quality accommodation will be supported by measures including job opportunities, mental health support and training in life skills in stylish accommodation in an independent, well-lit environment with on-site support.

“Hulme is an inclusive community and welcomes initiatives to help the most vulnerable. The accommodation will work in partnership with Manchester City Council and others in the city and bring a new chapter for those living in their new homes. It will work closely with other residents and councillors in the ward with any challenges that may arise.”

Cllr Annette Wright, ward member for Hulme said: “Everyone needs a safe, secure home where they can stay permanently if they want to. However the pathway from homelessness is not straightforward, and some people need short term accommodation focussing on emotional and practical support.  Hulme is a diverse and welcoming community.  We want land in our ward to be used for the benefit of those who join that community, whether they do so for life, or they are just passing through.  This land is unsuitable for permanent accommodation and we are pleased to see it used for a positive purpose rather than being a dark, disused area. This project will add to the temporary accommodation at Cornerstones and Manchester Foyer and we hope everyone who stays there will quickly move on into their own home, equipped with the skills to start a new life.”

James Whittaker, Executive Director of Development at Peel L&P said: “Following the public consultation, it’s fantastic to see this special project move forward into planning stages. With the support from the local business community, our vision to help reduce Manchester’s homelessness by transforming our land beneath some railway arches in the city into much needed housing for the homeless is one step closer to becoming reality.

“Sid and the Embassy team are truly inspirational. The work they do to help vulnerable adults get on track to better lives through their restoration programme is a lifeline for many and we’re proud to be working alongside them on Embassy Village.

“Subject to planning approval, we will continue to work with a whole host of Manchester businesses to bring the project to fruition.”

Tim Heatley, co-founder of social impact developers CAPITAL&CENTRIC said: “From the Greater Homes Partnership to the Bed Every Night scheme, our city-region has led the way and made a real positive difference in battling homelessness. These plans are ground-breaking for the city centre and is a fantastic example of how Manchester can build back better after the pandemic. We’re creating a high quality and green scheme that knocks it out of the park in terms of innovative design, but it’s the incredible work of Sid and the Embassy team that will build a unique community spirit and really show how we look after our own in this city.”

Ellen Sanderson-Clark, Senior Planner at Deloitte Real Estate said: “We are delighted to have supported Embassy in reaching this important milestone in the project.  The pro bono team has worked extensively in designing a development that will help to transform the lives of Embassy’s future residents and positively regenerate the environment around a currently redundant site. The proposals have been through an extensive process of pre-application engagement and all positive feedback as well as comments received have been carefully considered to ensure that the Village will have a positive relationship with the existing communities of Castlefield and Hulme.”

Embassy charity will operate as a housing provider rather than a shelter, with residents becoming paying tenants at the village from the first day of their stay. The self-contained site will be managed and monitored 24/7 by Embassy staff and strict no visitor rules will be in place to ensure that the village is safe for residents and surrounding communities.

A decision on the outline planning application is expected from Manchester City Council in summer 2021. If approved, the Embassy Village team plan to start construction in late summer 2021 with the first homes opening in 2022.

For more information visit www.embassyvillage.co.uk