News: Churchill Fellow to create new flagship centre for Manchester’s homeless
Published: 29 Jan 2018
Amy Varle, a housing consultant from Bury, will lead the creation of a flagship centre for homeless people in Manchester, drawing on research she conducted in the USA in the summer of 2016 as part of a Fellowship awarded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
The centre will support one of three ‘Housing First’ pilot schemes announced by the Government in the Autumn 2017 Budget, connecting rough sleepers with good-quality, permanent homes and a diverse range of aspirational, long-term support options.
The ‘Housing First’ model asserts that homelessness should be addressed through the immediate provision of permanent housing, with no requirement regarding housing readiness, and support for other issues subsequently offered on an ongoing basis. Since returning to the UK, Amy has championed the ‘Housing First’ policy model, with her findings presented at conferences and to UK parliamentarians.
Amy’s report on the findings of her Fellowship travels, ‘Social Property Investment: Pioneering Strategies for 21st Century Homelessness Prevention and Response’, is launched today. Amy was invited to present her report to 10 Downing Street for the attention of British Prime Minister, Theresa May, earlier in the month.
For her Fellowship travels, Amy, who experienced homelessness herself as a teenager, spent six weeks observing innovative and pioneering homelessness response strategies on the east and west coasts of America. The good practice she observed offered Amy fresh insights into how she could develop and enhance projects she had facilitated for rough sleepers and sofa-surfers in Greater Manchester during the previous three years.
Hosted in the USA by the directors of world-leading social care and affordable housing providers, such as Project Homeless Connect in San Francisco and Breaking Ground in New York, Amy was also guided to visit the thousands of people sleeping outdoors at Los Angeles’ infamous Skid Row and to deliver aid with ministries in Silicon Valley’s ‘jungle’ encampments. She further explored areas of innovation such as tiny home villages, creative community living spaces, ‘buy-one-give-one’ retail and corporate social responsibility.
Having recently previewed her work in America, Jeff Scheuer, Director of External Affairs at Breaking Ground New York, said:
“We are honoured to be involved in an effort that is so detailed, that is so thoughtful, that makes such a strong case for additional services based on proven strategies to address homelessness; and also to be associated with someone as committed to helping others who have the fundamental need for decent, stable and affordable housing as Amy”.
“I am so proud to have been awarded a Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and extremely grateful to the many people and organisations that have contributed to my learning. It is difficult to put into words what an incredible and life-changing experience the undertaking of this study was for me. I am looking forward to sharing my findings with fellow professionals in the UK and utilising the techniques which were so generously shared with me to help vulnerable people experiencing homelessness across Greater Manchester.”
Read Amy’s report here