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Manchester is facing a homelessness crisis like no other, as thirty new households a week find themselves in emergency accommodation. To tackle the city’s worsening situation and help vulnerable individuals to secure work, Google has teamed with Big Issue North to provide education and support.


It’s a difficult sight to stomach: scores of homeless individuals in our city centre who have found themselves in increasingly precarious situations, now surviving on the generosity of others and desperation. For Manchester, the homeless crisis has become a stand-out feature of our great city, contrasting greatly to the sense of community and industry we all know it for.

homeless manchester

Unfortunately, even with the help of fantastic charities such as Shelter, there are major barriers standing in the way of Manchester’s most vulnerable individuals and a secure, stable future of their own. A new partnership between Google’s Digital Garage and Big Issue North seeks to break those barriers down by delivering the training and support needed to secure a job in an increasingly digital-first world which constantly threatens to leave people behind.


The Growing Gulf

We now live in an unavoidably digital world, where according to Government research, 90% of job roles require some form of digital literacy and 72% of employers are unwilling to interview candidates without basic IT skills. For those living on the streets or in danger of becoming homeless, these skills can feel out of reach, with access to digital devices greatly limited. Automatically, opportunities are limited and there are more challenges to securing employment.

skills gap

As our dependency on digital continues to grow, the resultant gulf between vulnerable individuals and employment grows with it, leaving everybody in a difficult position. As a country, we need more individuals to develop digital skills to cater for different job roles, and on an individual level, support is needed to bridge the gulf.


Helping Hands

Having identified this crisis as a challenge which can be overcome, Google’s Digital Garage and Big Issue North have conceived of a training programme which will not only help them to leave a positive mark on the city, but will also help give some much-needed support to Manchester’s most vulnerable.

google offices

Based out of their King Street location, the Digital Garage will offer free one-on-one mentoring for Big Issue vendors, as well as training and group sessions focused on digital skills, CV workshops, and a ‘Stay Safe Online’ course provided in partnership with Which?. The latter is an important and oft-overlooked aspect of digital skills, with many individuals still unaware of how to keep their data safe online. Everybody who uses the service will come out better prepared and equipped with the skills to find a job – which they will also receive help with.

Established in 2015, Google’s Digital Garage has always been keen to address the skills gap prevalent in the UK job market, opening up more opportunities for talented individuals to secure work, develop their skills, or find new passions. The new partnership with Big Issue North demonstrates their commitment to making a difference to digital skills in the UK, and extends the sentiment of creating new opportunities to those less fortunate, making the world of difference.


Where Else Can Digital Help?

Although powerful in its dedication, this isn’t the first scheme from the digital/tech community that has set out to help Manchester’s growing homeless population. Over the last few years, there has been an outpouring of support from the community, including the Not Just Soup kitchen, supported by Sam Jones of Tunafish Media, or last year’s #homelesshack event, which united the North West digital community in an effort to identify solutions to reduce the problem in Manchester.

homeless help kitchen

Meanwhile, tech and digital tools are also being used to give homeless people a step up towards a brighter future. Street Support, for example, brings together information and contact details sourced from a number of local organisations all in one place, as well as updates on emergency accommodation during bad weather and opportunities for volunteers to help.

Operating on a wider scale than just Manchester – but still benefiting the city – are crowdfunding platforms such as Beam, which allow users to invest in a person’s future, helping them to achieve the training and qualifications needed to secure a job.

What all of these schemes and solutions have in common is the notion that people would rather a hand up than a hand out, and the likes of Beam and Digital Garage also go some way to highlight and tackle the growing skills gap problem we have in Manchester.

homeless help mediums

Unfortunately, in our exciting world of digital innovation, people are at risk of being left behind. Preventing this by offering training and education will play a large role in getting people off the streets and into employment, to the benefit of everybody. And with the Manchester community’s fighting spirit in their corner, there’s a chance we can turn things around for the city’s most vulnerable residents.


Unfortunately one of the precursors to many who end up on the streets is addiction to drugs and alcohol. In order to try and help those who find themselves struggling, we have spoken to Rehab4Addiction who have made available some key resources in order to help those who find themselves in difficult situations. Simply click here to find out more about how they can help.

Kaleida is a bespoke software development house based in Manchester. We’re proud of our city and the way people come together to help those less fortunate. If you would like to donate to or volunteer at Shelter Manchester, you can do so via their website. To find out more about Kaleida, feel free to get in touch with our team.

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