Co-production is central to everything we do
A key part of the Manchester Homelessness Charter structure is the Partnership Board.
Manchester City Council has not historically had a board with overall responsibility for homelessness. Rather, those working in the sector reported into three separate directorates: Housing, Neighbourhoods, and Adult Health & Wellbeing. One of the benefits of a board created solely to support the work of the homelessness sector is that issues will not be able to fall between the remits of these different directorates, and progress should more readily be made.
Setting up a board focussed on homelessness is an important step, but as part of the work of the homelessness charter, it is critical that it functions is in a way that reflects the same values.
Co-production is central to everything we do, and the board is a partnership between people with lived experience, public, voluntary and private sectors. The board is chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, and includes:
A board is traditionally a strategic body, dictating policy and plans to other groups, which carry out the work. The partnership board instead provides a model of stewardship, protecting the co-produced partnership work that is already being carried out under the Charter. Its key role is to listen to stories, experiences and challenges from the charter action groups, and to use its influence to help remove systemic blockages.
The partnership board is now set up and its members have been trained in co-production, have connected with some of the action groups and have spent time learning about their part in the systemic changes that we are seeking to cultivate.
The partnership board will meet 3 or 4 times a year as a whole group. By building relationships and opening channels of communication with the action groups, it is hoped that key influencers and decision makers will be more directly able to respond to the needs and aspirations of people experiencing homelessness.
To our knowledge, this has not been done before, so in many ways it is an experiment that we will learn from and adapt as it progresses. However, it is our firm conviction that by putting the voices of people with lived experience at the heart of the work, and by adhering to the value of co-production, we stand the best chance of creating genuine change for people affected by this grievous social issue.