Posted on June 20, 2017 by staff

North West digital joins together to hack homelessness


The digital community in the North West is joining together to help tackle the homeless situation in Greater Manchester.

The #homelesshack event takes place from June 30 to July 1, and seeks to support those currently facing life on the street.

Organised by Manchester Digital and leading digital agencies Sigma and Valtech, it will give digital professionals the chance to work with researchers, policy teams, subject matter experts and open data specialists to explore new ways to help.

The hack will focus on challenges that build on the work of other organisations working to end homelessness including Street Support.

Following presentations from homelessness experts and policy makers to help hackers understand what’s needed, what’s already being done and what the obstacles are, hack participants will be invited to develop and present their concept or prototype.

At the end of the hack a team of judges will pick the best, based on feasibility and innovation.

Latest figures show that rough sleeping in Greater Manchester has soared by more than 40 per cent in the last year.

Research by homeless charity Shelter revealed that 189 people are now sleeping rough in the region, up from 134 in 2015.

Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital, said: “Rough sleeping and homelessness in Greater Manchester is a huge problem and our members were keen to take action, so we offered our support and expertise to help create this event.

“By bringing together the digital and tech community we hope to come up with some ideas that will contribute and build upon the important work that is already happening in Manchester.”

Hilary Stephenson, managing director of digital user experience (UX) agency Sigma, said: “The issue of homelessness is a complex one, which can vary person to person, so there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Therefore we wanted to bring together people with a mix of skills and expertise to come up with a range of ideas and prototypes that could help, and then find ways to make them happen.

“To get involved, all participants need to do is bring their own laptop and come with an abundance of energy and imagination. It doesn’t matter if they’ve not done this before.

“Experienced hack veterans will be around to provide plenty of support and facilitate discussion on both days. It’s a fantastic opportunity to show that we care and provide support in helping to end this problem.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, added: “I’ve heard people refer to Greater Manchester as the Silicon Valley of Europe.

“We’re up there with the best when it comes to digital innovation so it makes sense for us to capitalise on our creativity and technology to improve lives and tackle social problems.

“I’ve always said that if people have ideas about how we can do things better in Greater Manchester, I want to hear them. So I’m keen to see what the #homelesshack can come up with.”

The free event is taking place at Valtech UK’s offices in Basil Chambers on High Street in Manchester.

It starts at 10am on June 30 and capacity is limited to 80 people.