A meeting organised by Unite Community Branch (Greater Manchester), to discuss the homelessness and housing crisis was held on Saturday the 6th of June at the Friends Meeting House; which was built in 1795 and has played an important role in the political evolution of Manchester. The meeting was attended by union members, charities concerned with homelessness and members of the public.
John Clegg who is the Secretary for the GM Unite Community Branch spoke during the meeting explaining their support for the protest and the increasing problem of homelessness of which the housing crisis plays a major part in. He explained that members of the homeless community, who were campaigning, had become members of Unite Community Branch and this had allowed Unite to take a more active role in supporting the campaign. Unite also have plans to open up a bank account to support the campaign, to aid in collecting donations to the campaign.
Dean a spokesman from the Homeless Rights Of Justice Mcr campaign gave an account of life in the protest camp, and what the members of the protest hoped to achieve. When asked what people in the camp needed most Dean replied “what the people in the camp need most is respect”. He also mentioned the meeting between the campaigners the previous day and mentioned that Manchester City Council had agreed to waive the ‘intentionally homeless’ designation when considering homeless people for housing. Ben Taylor, the solicitor supporting the homeless rights campaign, also commented on the legal side of the campaign so far.
Len Taylor, a member of the Bolton Anti Bedroom Tax campaign spoke of their extensive campaigning on the matter. He also brought to the attention of the meeting cases of suicide that have occurred by people sanctioned by social security. Len plans to take a coffin down to the ‘End Austerity Now’ demo in London on the 20th of June to highlight the fact that some people have payed the ultimate price under austerity. Mark Krantz from the Anti Bedroom Tax Federation for Greater Manchester also spoke about their work, and of the demo ‘End Evictions No More Bedroom Tax’. The demo will occur between 12 till 2pm on the 25th of June outside the GMEX, where Tory housing minister Brandon Lewis will address the CIH housing conference.
John Clegg said after the meeting “it went very well, a lot of ground was covered … the contributions from Dean were excellent and reflected in a very strong way the views of the people on the camp. It seems clear now that after yesterday’s meeting with the city council there may be some progress in general, but we should not take our foot of the pedal.”
When asked what was the next step for Unite Community in regards to the campaign John said “We will provide whatever support we can for the campaign…a number of people in the campaign are Unite community members, and we will do everything we can to maintain and strengthen that link. Through Unite internal processes we also plan to approach members of MCC who are Unite Councillors, we understand there is in the region of 28 to 30.” He went on to explain that Unite officers would try to engage the Unite councillors within MCC into a discussion regarding the homelessness issue in Manchester.