Thousands of pounds has been raised for the Big Change homeless support fund through generous donations and sales of the Manchester Santa Christmas Card.
This year was the first time donations have been collected on the Christmas Markets, and with 25% profit from card sales also going to Big Change, the total raised comes to £4,592.60
£4,000.53 in Christmas Market visitor donations has been collected by a 50-strong team of volunteers. The team has been collecting at weekends for the last four weeks and the response from the public has been “inspirational”.
A kind-hearted trader on King Street – Cornelia Friedl, the owner of the French Café “Le Petit Bistrot” – also donated the stall’s £314 float into the Big Change collection.
The Manchester Santa Christmas Card, which has been on sale since the beginning of December in the shops at Central Library and Manchester Art Gallery, has sold 299 packs and raised £278.07 for the fund. The card is still available, and has been joined by complementary gift tags and wrapping paper.
The Christmas card was inspired by the hugely popular animation that shows our hapless Santa struggling on the ice rink, only to be rescued by two skate savvy children who – with the help of Rudolph and other friends – etch the now iconic Manchester Bee into the ice.
The film is available to watch: www.manchester.gov.uk/christmas
The Big Change campaign is a central fund for more than 25 charities, with support from Manchester City Council and CityCo, which has helped hundreds of people move their lives forwards and begin to build an independent life away from the streets.
The Big Change fund supports individuals who are homeless by paying for items they need from a deposit for a home to clothes for a job interview, furnishing for a new flat, or travel costs.
The fund has already collected £120,000 in donations and supported 704 people through grants. Donations can also be made online at www.bigchangemcr.co.uk where you can also find out more about the Fund's work, including a video with Elbow’s Guy Garvey explaining how the fund help rough sleepers.
Volunteers are always welcome to support homeless services in the city. Volunteers have already come forward to help over the Christmas period, including Christmas Day, but if you could provide your time in the long-term, please visit www.streetsupport.net to find out more.
Eleanor Watts (Riverside), Chair of the Big Change Fund, said: “We can’t thank Manchester – and visitors to the city – enough for their generosity at this time of year. Christmas can be a particularly hard time for rough sleepers and your donations will have a real impact of people’s lives.
“A huge thank you must also go out to the volunteers who have given their time to collect donations and give something back to the city this festive season.”
Cllr Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Homelessness is an issue we all care deeply about and we are working hard to address the problem in every way we can. The generous donations will help people move forward with their lives and help provide long-term support to make sure people get off and stay off the streets. Our enormous gratitude goes out to everyone who gave money and it will all be spent on rebuilding lives and ending homelessness.”
Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “The Manchester Christmas Markets are one of the biggest attractions in the UK with millions of visitors each year. I’m thankful that we have been able to harness that popularity to collect the generous donations to support rough sleepers this Christmas. Thank you to everyone who gave what they could.”