Over 500 people were supported by a new Welfare Unit in Manchester city centre over five days during the Christmas period, with 190 given specialist support and the rest signposted to appropriate support services.
The Welfare Unit was funded by Greater Manchester Police through money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). Managed by specially trained staff from Radius Security Ltd, the van was the first port of call for anyone who became vulnerable as a result of alcohol or drugs, for anyone needing first aid or who has lost their friends, needs their mobile charging or just needs a safe place for a while over the Christmas period.
It was placed outside the Printworks and Withy Grove in Manchester city centre on nights known for being particularly busy over the festive period and was joined by a private ambulance and a first responder from North West Medics.
One hundred and ninety people were seen in the welfare unit across five nights, including New Year ’s Eve, and 374 people were supported with information and signposting to appropriate support.
A distressed young woman who needed help getting home after losing her friends was one of the hundreds given a helping hand, freeing up police and other emergency service staff to deal with other incidents.
Superintendent Chris Hill from GMP said: “It’s encouraging to see so many people have been supported by the welfare unit over just a few days during what is always a really busy time for us. I’m passionate about our city centre and making it a place that everyone can enjoy, no matter the reason for their visit.
“By working together with agencies like Radius Security and the Council we can get people the support that they need when they need it, so as many people as possible can go on to enjoy everything our wonderful city has to offer.”
Radius first ran the scheme in Deansgate Locks for four days last year, offering support to anyone who asked or needed it regardless of who they were, where they had been or what they needed. It aimed ensure people were safe and promptly cared for and to look at easing the pressure on authorities and emergency services.
Tony Hill Managing, Director of Radius Security Ltd, said: “We initially had the idea in recognition of just how vulnerable people end up when supposedly on a fun night out, often leading to the need for support from the emergency services. Our second Christmas proved a real hit with not only those that needed help and assistance but also with the venue management, door staff and the police officers on the street. We had a number of cases that needed critical care and so ‘to save someone’s life’… well you simply can’t put a price on it.”
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Manchester has a renowned nightlife that draws people to the city centre from across the country – especially over the festive period.
“The success of the Welfare Unit is to be commended. During one of the busiest times of the year in the city centre, the unit provided support and advice to hundreds of people in need of help.
“It is vital that visitors and residents alike feel safe and secure on our streets and we will continue to work closely with Greater Manchester Police to ensure that’s the case.”