ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE BIG CHANGE STEERING GROUP
A group of charities and organisations have teamed up to create a special fund aimed at helping homeless people get off – and stay off – the streets.
Shoppers and people visiting the city centre are now being urged to donate money to the fund if they want to help rough sleepers, rather than give money to people who are begging on the street.
Riverside and the other organisations across the city have come together to create a new way of helping homeless people, by setting up the Big Change fund, which is being launched on International Giving Day (Tuesday December 1).
The fund will enable homeless people to make real changes to their lives, and Riverside’s Area Manager Eleanor Watts said: “The biggest change we can make to a homeless person’s life is to help them with the vital support to get off the streets and by donating to this campaign it will provide them with the practical support they need. It is also a great opportunity for all the homeless services and grass roots organisations in Manchester to collectively help people who are sleeping rough.”
Anyone who wants to make a donation can visit BigChangeMCR.co.uk/JustGiving or text REAL01 £1 to 70070 to donate as little as £1 – although people can use the system to donate more if they want.
Charity workers who provide support to rough sleepers say giving money to people who are begging only enables them to continue living on the streets and does not address the complicated range of problems which made them homeless, including mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction.
The Big Change Steering Group, made up of organisations working with homeless people in the city, including the Riverside, the Booth Centre, Shelter, Inspiring Change, Breakfast In Bed Street Life Project, and Coffee 4 Craig, has been formed to administer the fund, along with Manchester City Council.
All money donated to the fund will be used to provide homeless people with the practical items they need to build new lives off the streets.
They can use this to buy items such as kettles, toasters, radios, pots and pans and bed linen when furnishing new flats, as well as transport to travel to new accommodation, clothing for work interviews and training to get people into employment.
As people who are coming off the streets need money urgently, there won’t be a lengthy application process and funds can be issued quickly by accredited members of homeless organisations.
The money will be issued by people from charities who have previously helped them and who they have built up a relationship with.
Helping set up the fund is just one of a range of measures which is being taken to improve services for homeless people by a range of organisations across Manchester.
Mikey Thompson, of the Community Awareness Network group, said: “This is a huge step in the right direction and it’s great to be working with so many great charities and grass root organisations on such a large scale. “There is a sense that this could be a fresh start, and a feeling that things are being done differently here in Manchester. We are now a city standing united against homelessness, and by coming together we are much more effective in tackling homelessness and its surrounding issues."
Cllr Paul Andrews, Manchester City Council’s executive member for adult health and wellbeing, said: "Manchester residents, as well as people who visit the city centre, often want to help people who are less fortunate than themselves, and often think that giving money to rough sleepers is helping them.
"While this is very laudable, sadly if you give money to people who are begging on the street, it only enables them to remain in their situation and does not help them get off and stay off the streets. This fund is about trying to make sure that your small change makes a big change to people’s lives, rather than no change.
“There are a range of complicated issues which lead to people sleeping rough on the streets and simply putting a roof over their heads is often just the first step. Providing people with help and support, as well as with funds which can help them make the first steps towards rebuilding their lives, is much better way of giving them something which will genuinely help them.”