Vermont appointed to help Embassy Village tackle Manchester homelessness

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A pioneering initiative to create a new community for Manchester’s homeless and vulnerable men is taking a major step forward with the appointment of Vermont Construction Group, paving the way for construction to start in the new year.

In 2021 Manchester-based charity, Embassy, joined forces with developers Peel Waters, Capital&Centric and a pro bono team across the city’s business community to bring forward the Embassy Village and provide 40 new purpose-built homes. Funding has already been secured for the first 24 homes following a £3.5m donation from the Moulding Foundation, with Vermont Construction now signed up to construct the village for no profit. A further £1 million is needed to enable the charity to deliver the full scheme, which was consented by Manchester City Council in 2021. The village, which is set to open its doors in late 2025, will transform the site below the 22 railway arches between the Bridgewater Canal and River Irwell, on land provided by regeneration specialists Peel Waters, into a housing-led community with a village hall, lots of green space, mini allotments to grow vegetables and a multi-use sports area. Sid Williams of Embassy said: “To be starting construction soon is a huge moment for Embassy and we can’t thank all the partners and friends that have helped us along the way enough. Taking on a project of this scale is unprecedented but Manchester is a pioneering city and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support from businesses and the public to make this happen. We’re nearly there with the funding, following the incredibly generous donation from the Moulding Foundation and also £250,000 from Garfield Weston Foundation and £100,000 from Benefact Trust but need another £1 million to realise the full vision and build all 40 homes. “The village will help us re-imagine the way homelessness is tackled in the city, providing a long-term and sustainable solution. We’re creating a supportive community where we help our residents into work and get used to managing a home. This means we’ll be able to help four times as many people as we currently do.” Mark Connor, Vermont Construction Group Chief Executive, said: “Vermont is delighted to be supporting Embassy, the Moulding Foundation, Peel Waters, Capital&Centric, as well as the rest of the Manchester business community in delivering this fantastic project. “Homelessness is a massive challenge and a responsibility for us all to help in solving. Vermont has committed to ensuring the scheme can be delivered and the accommodation available in 2025 for those people that need it most.” The team is now calling on people to give whatever they can, from donations to gifts in the form of building materials and services, to help make the full vision a reality. The average time waited in shelters in Manchester and Salford is now estimated at 10 to 15 years for council housing and, even then, more than 50% of those finally housed choose to return to the streets because of loneliness and feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of managing their first home. The charity’s vision for Embassy Village is to help the city’s most vulnerable men get off the street by putting high-quality housing and wrap-around support at the heart of the solution. The Embassy Housing project is a live dress rehearsal at managing a home. People are housed from day 1 and stay an average of 14 months. 92% of residents have moved on to remain housed – usually with a full time job and no further need for benefits. Embassy is also planning to open a separate facility to help homeless women. Residents will receive one-to-one training and mentoring to help them break the cycle of homelessness and reintegrate back into society. They will be equipped with a range of life skills, including shopping, budgeting and cooking, and courses designed to help unpack and better manage past traumas will also be made available. Embassy Village will help residents get into work, with 21 companies already partnering up with Embassy to offer interviews and job opportunities. The Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity is also supporting with funding for the project as Embassy looks to raise money for the long-term running costs of the village. The Embassy charity, which launched in 2019, began by re-purposing a luxury tour bus to provide emergency shelter and support to vulnerable adults but unfortunately was forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic. The charity started to develop the idea for the creation of Embassy village with Peel Waters and Capital&Centric, following Peel Waters’ proposal to provide their land for a housing community for the homeless in Manchester. The charity will operate as a housing provider rather than a shelter, with residents having a rental contract 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.

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