A Riverside manager has been honoured with the prestigious High Sheriff of Greater Manchester Award for her work in helping rough sleepers staying in hotels during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Kath Meighan works for charitable housing association Riverside who are managing emergency accommodation for homeless people at the Holiday Inn Express in Gorton, Manchester. This supported service was set up as part of the government’s Everybody In campaign to protect rough sleepers from the spread of the virus.
She was given the special recognition from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester Eamonn O’Neal after being nominated by the local authority.
Speaking about the award Kath, Riverside’s service manager at the hotel, said: “Receiving this award is amazing but it’s not just for me, it is thanks to all of the team working there. Our success is testament to the hard work from my colleagues at Riverside, together with security and hotel staff there, making it a positive collaborative effort from everyone.
“We have such a diverse team from young to mature, BAME staff and people with lived experience of homelessness. I’m very honoured to receive the award.”
Kath began working at Riverside in December 2018 as a support worker for the A Bed Every Night initiative in Crumpsall to help rough sleepers and people who are homeless.
The mum-of-three from Manchester was nominated by Michael Kendall from Manchester City Council who has been working on the Covid-19 response to street homeless allocations for accommodation.
In his nomination he said: “I feel Kath deserves recognition for her proactive approach to reducing the spread of Covid-19, her round-the-clock availability and can-do approach is just incredible.
“While managing the project Kath has taken a proactive approach to helping our residents and often going above and beyond what is expected. Those staying there will leave in better health than they arrived.”
Michael praises Kath for ensuring that all residents receive the support they need for their own safety, including making sure their medication is available and extra support for people with vulnerabilities.
People staying there have slept rough for many years, therefore have varying complex needs for drug and alcohol misuse. So it is vital that support is available through specialist mental health and addiction services to help them during the lockdown. Each person has a comprehensive support package put together. There is also an onsite ‘One Stop Shop’ to help sort out people’s health issues, prescriptions and benefits to make it an easy process for everyone staying there during the pandemic.
Michael continues: “Knowing that residents have a range of multiple vulnerabilities such as mental health, drugs and other issues, Kath knew it was important for them not to continue their normal lifestyles on the streets, in order to reduce the risk of further infection or transmission of Covid-19 to themselves and others.
“To combat this she arranged activities and workshops to keep them busy and safe within the confines of the hotel, such as building planters from scratch to personalised signs for charities.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, lead member for homelessness for Manchester City Council, added: “The lengths to which staff have gone to during the Covid-19 crisis have been nothing short of astonishing. The foundation of the work we do is people who deeply care about helping some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“Kath is a shining example of someone who goes about their day with compassion and a willingness to help anyone, no matter where they have come from or the struggles they have faced. This award is thoroughly deserved and I congratulate her wholeheartedly.”
Riverside is the third largest provider of homelessness services in the country, and its Care and Support operation works with over 16,000 customers every year.