In the shadows of Salford tower blocks are cabins offering homeless people a safe place to sleep.
Known as the ‘People’s Pods’ the units, outside homelessness charity Emmaus’ Pendleton base, also offer people on the street a space where they can self-isolate.
The bunkers are capable of housing two people to accommodate couples, but are currently restricted to solo use because of Covid restrictions.
Kitted out with two single beds, they include an ensuite and a welcome pack for visitors with coffee, tea and biscuits. The facility, part of Salford City Council’s A Bed Every Night scheme has already supported 93 people since opening in early May.
One of those people is James, 39, who told the M.E.N. found himself on hard times after Covid hit and he lost his job as a classic car dealer in Spain.
Until then he had been two years sober, but after losing his job and his home, James found himself living in a hotel in Spain and hitting rock bottom.
Stranded and with very little money and nowhere to go James rang Emmaus Salford, who set up a flight and transport back to Salford for him where he would self isolate for 14 days in the People’s Pods.
“I was living in Barcelona, I had been in this community before, but thanks to the lockdown I relapsed in quite a bad way,” James said.
“I knew I had to come home, but I didn’t have any money, so I rang Emmaus.
“When I saw that little pod I was relieved because I knew I had to self isolate for two weeks and had no idea how I was going to do that, but they allowed that.
“Its comfortable, it’s warm, and it’s safe, you can connect to the WiFi, you’ve got your own little shower. It’s got everything you need to get over those 14 days.
“I’ve been out of the pod for six weeks now, and some people have questioned why they don’t have their own flat.
“They’re not up to everybody’s standards, but it’s either that or a sleeping bag in a cold doorway and I know where I’d rather be.”
Emmaus Salford work in partnership with Salford City Council who signpost rough sleepers based in Salford and Manchester who need to use the People’s Pods.
They are free to come and go as they please and are offered wider support via Emmaus’ social supermarket, which provides a sustainable and affordable source of food and household essentials to people in Pendleton struggling to make ends meet because of debt, illness or low income.
Rachel Richardson, Community Director at Emmaus Salford, said: “A safe space to sleep is so important for people who are homeless, vulnerable and often very anxious about their situation.
“Our on-site pods are helping people take their first step out of homelessness and engage with the support services they need.
“We are pleased to be working with many partners across Salford to support people in their time of need. The pods complement our existing offer here at Emmaus Salford and we hope to help many more people on their journey out of homelessness.”
Councillor Tracy Kelly, lead member for housing, said: “I’m pleased that the pods have proved such a useful part of our A Bed Every Night provision which has reduced rough sleeping by 80 per cent in Salford and grateful to Emmaus for the excellent support they provide.
“This year’s pandemic has put extra financial pressure on many people who were already struggling to get by. I urge anyone who is worried about rent or mortgage arrears, debts or bills to seek help urgently.
“There are many organisations, including Salford City Council, which can support you and may be able to prevent you losing the roof over your head. Meanwhile we and our partners will continue working to deliver as much affordable housing as we can.”
All referrals to the pods are managed by Salford Housing Options. If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness and need advice or support call 0161 793 2020 or visit https://www.salford.gov.uk/housing/homelessness/
If you need assistance outside of office hours, call 0161 794 8888.
To learn more and support Emmaus Salford, visit https://emmaus.org.uk/salford.