A new service will be out and about in Manchester city centre this Christmas, offering help and support to those who need it and helping emergency services manage the extra demand that comes with the festive season.
The new Welfare Unit has been funded by Greater Manchester Police through money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). Managed by specially trained staff from Radius Security Ltd, the van will be the first port of call for anyone who has become vulnerable as a result of alcohol or drugs, for anyone needing first aid or who has lost their friends, needs their mobile charging or just needs a safe place for a while.
It will be placed outside the Printworks and Withy Grove in Manchester city centre on nights known for being particularly busy over the festive period and will be joined by a private ambulance with an Emergency Medical Technician and a first responder from North West Medics ready to help anyone who needs medical attention or transport them to hospital if needed.
Tony Hill Managing, Director of Radius Security Ltd, said: “In recognition of the need to be aware of our corporate and social responsibilities, we at Radius wanted to give the late-night community a bit of additional support by supplying a welfare unit. Last year we provided one to Deansgate Locks and this time the service will go ahead outside the Printworks. Our intentions are to look after vulnerable people, but last year’s provisions seemingly also had a further knock on effect by helping reduce the amount of crime and disorder in the area.
“Simple gestures such as a hot drink, warm blanket and the ability to charge a mobile phone alongside the medical support were greatly appreciated by those in need. We would like to see this service become a regular offer in the city.”
Radius first ran the scheme in Deansgate Locks for four days last year, offering support to anyone who asked or needed it regardless of who they were, where they had been or what they needed. It aimed ensure people were safe and promptly cared for and to look at easing the pressure on authorities and emergency services.
Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin from Greater Manchester Police said: “Manchester is a fantastic place for a night out and we want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time. However, we do know that particularly around this time of year people can get into difficulty when they have been drinking and naturally become more vulnerable as a result. We have to make sure we’re responding to the people who need us most so having more eyes and ears, and more people who are trained to deal with issues, on the ground can help us keep everyone safe more easily.
“This initiative sees us using money seized from criminal acts to help support people who need it, help deter antisocial behaviour and ultimately continue to create a safe place for people to enjoy everything our fantastic city has to offer.”
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council said: “A safe and welcoming leisure offer is vitally important to us as a city. Manchester has a global reputation for its vibrant and safe night time economy.
“A recent study showed that 95 per cent of people felt safe whilst enjoying the city’s attractions. As part of our package of ongoing partnership work in the night time economy we have decided to enhance our offer this year working with GMP, Radius UK Ltd and North West Medics to include welfare support and first aid over the busy Christmas season. This will work towards ensuring that everyone feels safe and has an enjoyable festive period, whilst taking pressure off core emergency services at peak times.”