Who is Embassy?
Embassy is a Manchester based charity which began by re-purposing a luxury tour bus to provide emergency shelter and support to vulnerable adults. Like many other UK homeless shelters, we had to close the bus during the COVID-19 pandemic so we’ve been reinventing what we do. We now have a number of homes across Manchester, Salford and Bolton that provide residents with their own room – something many have dreamed of for a long time.
Our approach is to reintegrate vulnerable people back into society by helping them to find work and a home of their own, reducing the pressure on local councils. We work hard with our residents to build their confidence and life skills so they can contribute to society again, offering them a hand up, not a hand out. For more information visit www.embassybus.org
What are the plans?
It will provide safe, secure homes for people who are homeless or at the risk of being homeless with in-house start to end support and routes into work. Vulnerable people are housed and then surrounded by the support and training they need to leave the cycle of homelessness.
We are looking to create 40 new high quality permanent homes, each with their own front door. There will also be a Village Hall which will become a community hub and training and mentoring facility for residents. The experienced Embassy team will manage the site 24/7.
Embassy operates as a housing provider rather than a shelter and all potential residents are interviewed and triaged. Only those who are ready and, crucially, keen to work are offered accommodation.
Who will the village help?
Embassy operates as a housing provider rather than a shelter and all potential residents are interviewed and triaged. Only those who are ready and, crucially, keen to work are offered accommodation. Each resident will receive over 6 hours of one-to-one training each week from the Embassy team. As the vast majority of homeless people, or those at risk of being homeless, are male the Village will be just for men. Embassy also works with women in a very similar way but on a smaller scale and in locations we don’t share online in order to safeguard women who are often leaving abuse.
Whilst at the village, residents will be required to engage in Embassy’s training programme and learn skills e.g. budgeting and money management and cooking. The combination of a safe, consistent place to stay enables them to gain confidence and independence, build up physical and mental resources, address the issues that have kept them on the street and access work and housing opportunities.
Residents also benefit from post move-on support to galvanise resettlement, and reduce long term homelessness. We have a strong track record of housing men and not seeing them return to the street through their combination of employment and regular support visits post moving on.
Will the village be safe?
The village will be operated by our experienced team who will work with our residents to ensure the safe management of activities on site. The village will be monitored 24/7 by Embassy staff.The village will be operated by our experienced team who will work with our residents to ensure the safe management of activities on site. The village will be monitored 24/7 by Embassy staff.
All the residents will be paying tenants and as such are no longer homeless. The village will operate a strict management policy which includes:
- Zero tolerance policy of drug and alcohol consumption onsite.
- Strict rules on minimising noise after hours and ensuring cleanliness across the village.
- Residents will not be able to receive visitors to site.
We now operate as a housing provider rather than a shelter. As such, the potential residents are interviewed and triaged. Only those who are ready and, crucially, keen to work and improve themselves are offered accommodation. The site won’t operate as a rehabilitation for those in addiction. Embassy is looking to be a staging post for those keen to learn to manage a budget and a home and get into full time work. The aim is to help residents move on from Embassy to live independently and no longer rely on benefits.
Our previous experience includes operating the Embassy Bus as short term accommodation and support service for residents. We have never had a violent incident at either the bus or the subsequent housing. None of our current neighbours have ever complained. People leaving homelessness are often very grateful for and motivated to take the opportunity and many positive friendships have emerged among the community. Evictions have been rare and sometimes we’ve still been able to support men after eviction through work and help into other accommodation.’
When the COVID-19 lockdown commenced, the bus could no longer operate, and as such we took on a number of houses to continue providing emergency shelter. With this experience, Embassy now interview and select their residents based on their willingness to engage in the scheme of training. Since implementing the interview and training programme there have been no issues with residents.
We have worked with 133 people so far. Since ending the shelter accommodation and becoming a supported housing provider, Embassy no longer have people coming for a single night and moving on. Our new normal is to house settled, renting individuals with which we have established relationships. Based on our experience we expect the average stay time for Embassy Village to be 6 to 14 months, and a maximum stay time of 2 years will be permitted.
Why was this location chosen?
Peel L&P is providing 22 railway arches in Castlefield, Manchester, rent free under a long-term agreement to support the project. The self-contained site between the Bridgewater Canal and Rivers Medlock and Irwell in Manchester City Centre is bound on three sides by water, which will support careful and safe management as entry will only be possible via the ramp from the ring road footpath. The central location, with excellent pedestrian and cycle access to the city centre will enable future residents to easily access supporting services and employment opportunities. There are plenty of public transport links with bus stops on Regent Road and Chester Road and Deansgate train station and the Metrolink less than 1km away. The connectivity of the site and opportunities for sustainable travel will be considered and set out in a Transport Statement and Travel Plan that will accompany the planning application. The site is also large to allow us to grow in the future and provide space for the Village Hall and outdoor spaces.
How will the project be funded?
As a charity, Embassy is funding the development through a combination of corporate sponsorships, pledges for construction of the homes and pro-bono (no-fee) work provided by the consultant team. There has been a huge level of interest from corporate partners and potential sponsors to date with pledges for full funding already received for eight homes. We are delighted to have The Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity formally partnering with Embassy in order to assist in this effort.
If you would like further information on sponsoring the project visit www.embassybus.org/contact/.
What are the timescales for the project?
We expect to submit a planning application in early spring 2021 following the pre-application consultation. Subject to planning approval we would look to start construction in late summer 2021 with the first homes opening by the end of the year.
How will the village be constructed?
Construction will be managed to minimise the impact on nearby residents. A contractor will be appointed who has experience with urban development projects who will adhere to their usual policies for considerate construction and communication with local residents. A Construction Management Plan will ensure that activities which have the potential to cause nuisance, such as traffic and access management, construction work hours, noise and dust are managed.
I live nearby, will I be affected?
The amenity of existing residents has been considered as part of the proposals. This includes consideration of the potential for overlooking, noise impact, onsite security and management, and access and servicing. This includes consideration of the potential for overlooking, noise impact, onsite security and management, and access and servicing.
- The design of the proposed development will prevent any issues with overlooking due to the orientation and location of windows on the proposed units. There will be one small window located on the northern elevations of the homes fronting the Vie Building which will be orientated horizontally to minimise the potential for overlooking. There will be a distance of approx. 21m between the proposed homes and the nearest existing residential window. To the south, the residential units are set within the railway arches so will not have a line of sight to the existing residential buildings to the south.
- The management measures that we will put in place and the ownership and privacy that will be offered to each of our residents will help to prevent any potential issues with noise or safety and security. For further information on how the village will be safely and securely operated click here
- Creating quality accommodation for future residents, where they feel comfortable and safe is essential, and will help foster a mutual respect for the Embassy Village.
What are the benefits?
Homelessness in the UK and Greater Manchester is growing. Within Greater Manchester, there is extensive work being undertaken to end homelessness in the region. The project will support and complement existing measures, providing much needed move on accommodation for homeless people as well as post move-on support to galvanise resettlement, and reduce long term homelessness.
In the first instance it will provide vulnerable people with a roof over their head. The longer term benefits will include improving overall wellbeing, giving back independence and providing mentoring to encourage resettlement.
The development will also provide residents with an address, easing the process of recovering ID documents, accessing support services, contacting council and housing associations and opening a bank account as well as making them more employable.
At the village, our team of resettlement workers and volunteers will provide wrap-around support of 6+ hours per week per resident to equip them with a range of life skills including shopping & budgeting, cooking, and how to manage a home as well as a course designed to help residents unpack past traumas and grow in confidence.
Embassy’s training and mentoring programme is also being designed to boost residents’ work readiness through job application, interview support and wider training. We plan to build on our successful track record of helping residents to resettle into secure long-term accommodation and find routes back into work by collaborating with local employers. 15 companies are already signed up to offer employment and we would love to hear from more companies interested in partnering.
Our resettlement work helps people find accommodation and we visit our former residents regularly for 6 months after they leave our accommodation.
How will the heritage of the site be taken into account?
A Heritage Assessment is being undertaken and will be submitted as part of the planning application. This assesses the effect of the proposed development effect of the proposals on nearby heritage assets. The Heritage Assessment will provide an overall justification in support of the scheme.
Do the homes meet Manchester City Council space standards?
The proposed homes do not meet national space standards for one bed, one person studios in a traditional residential development or apartment scheme. It is however important to place this in the context of the offer, to provide temporary accommodation for residents which can be offered at low cost whilst they get on their feet and find a permanent solution.
Each home is self-contained and will provide the essential amenities residents require including a wet room and open plan kitchen, dining, living and bedroom space as well as storage space. The proposed development as a whole also provides extensive communal spaces via the Village Hall and outdoor spaces.
Will there be any parking at the village?
The central location, with excellent pedestrian and cycle access to the city centre will enable future residents to easily access supporting services and employment opportunities. We expect that residents of the site would not travel by car and would mostly arrive on foot, cycle, public transport, or be dropped-off. However, there may be a need for some staff or visitors to arrive by car so we are proposing four car parking spaces alongside cycle storage. There are plenty of public transport links with bus stops on nearby Regent Road and Chester Road and Deansgate train station and the Metrolink less than 1km away.