Students will be well aware of Manchester’s appalling homelessness crisis, but many will have no idea how they themselves can make a difference. Last Tuesday, the 9th of February, Amy Hinks from the Booth Centre came to the university in answer to this question, giving a well-attended talk about the charity tackling the homelessness crisis head on and discussing how students could get involved.
The Manchester Evening News reported that since 2010, the amount of homeless people in and around Manchester has increased by an estimated 600 per cent.
The Booth Centre provides a safe space, where the homeless can enjoy a hot meal, take a shower or even gain a qualification. It is open five days a week, normally from 9am until 3pm, providing breakfast and lunch for those who need it.
Rough sleepers visiting the centre can engage in activities such as gardening, handicraft, painting and cooking. Some even take these new skills to gain qualifications at the prospect of applying for work and getting off the streets. The Booth Centre boasts that this year alone, the centre has helped 459 people find temporary or permanent accommodation. The centre helps up to 300 people per week, which is an increase in numbers from previous years.
Amy Hinks, who works at the centre, informed students about the potential reasons for the increase in homelessness around Manchester: “Not every homeless person is an addict or alcoholic; we meet a lot of people who have lost their jobs or split up from partners and have no home anymore.” Hinks said that government cuts to welfare, benefits and housing have contributed massively to the crisis. Many support networks have been cut or terminated which has had a large impact, too.
The centre is funded by a compilation of donations which include council and national lottery funding, and comic relief grants. However, the announcement made last summer that Manchester City Council will have to make nearly a quarter of a billion pounds worth of cuts, means that charities like the Booth Centre are ever more reliant on fundraising from the public.
One way students can get involved is by getting sponsorship for the notorious Bogle on the 4th of March. Proudly held in collaboration with the Students’ Union and RAG, it consists of a 55-mile walk around Manchester, which was first completed in 1961 by a number of lecturers from the University of Manchester. Other upcoming events include a sponsored sleep-out on the 4th of November, so that fundraisers can experience just what life is like for the homeless in wintry Manchester.
Donations of toiletries, socks, underwear and food are all welcomed at the centre. The Booth Centre asks passersby to be kind to homeless people by greeting them and informing them about the centre in order to help people get off of the streets and back into stability. The centre is in the north of the city centre, close to the Manchester Arena.
Links to signing up for these fundraising events and more about the charity can be found on the Booth Centre website boothcentre.org.uk. Volunteering opportunities at the centre can also be found here.