When lockdown was announced in March 2020, Greater Manchester Law Centre (GMLC) told us they were worried about people in Manchester potentially facing multiple distressing issues due to the pandemic.
They told us about the rising pressures of rent arrears and people being able to maintain their tenancies. They were concerned about pressures on incomes and people’s ability to access benefits. They were also worried about the impact of furlough, redundancy, wages and people’s employment rights being put at risk. They were ultimately proven correct, as these are all things that have since been contentious in the last 11 months.
With a grant from We Love MCR Charity’s Covid-19 Community Response Fund right at the start of lockdown when the situation looked at its most precarious for organisations like GMLC, they were able to retain the services of a housing lawyer and two trainee solicitors. This ensured they could keep their doors open and support Manchester’s residents when they needed it most – when they were at risk of losing their home, their income or their job.
As well as one to one advice and support, the grant also allowed GMLC to train and support over 34 frontline community groups and organisations such as The Booth Centre, Mustard Tree, foodbanks and tenants unions – all groups who keep communities and the most vulnerable afloat in times of hardship and crisis. GMLC also developed a C-19 survival guide https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/updated.pdf which was delivered to over 10,000 homes.
They have told us how the grant has allowed them to support nearly 300 people, preserving over 400 tenancies in Manchester – these interventions change, and save, lives. They have delivered a whopping 650 hours of advice to Manchester residents through their tenants helpline, training or face to face support covering a wide range of issues including illegal eviction, disrepair and homelessness.
GMLC have told us about the urgent and life changing support they have been able to provide thanks to the award. They told us how they were able to support a nurse whose landlord had changed the locks in an attempt to illegally evict her from the property (leaving the nurse locked inside and unable to attend work) back into her property safely. They also told us about how they were able to stop the eviction of housing association tenant with significant mental health issues by appealing to the DWP to reinstate and backdate his universal credit. These are just two anecdotes from a host of grim situations that GMLC will have helped people to escape from, they really are making a difference.
The grant has also enabled GMLC to develop their policy work on Homelessness and eviction prevention and they have been working with GMCA on developing alternative legislation to protect tenants in the longer term – this work was directly influenced by the advice and experience of clients from this project.
We are very proud to have supported GMLC to continue their vital work supporting Manchester’s residents. Their work will always be needed as long as there remain inequality and disadvantage in Manchester communities, and we’ll call ourselves their supporters for as long as their need persists. Read more about their work and current campaigns at www.gmlaw.org.uk