In Manchester City Centre, tucked between a flurry of restaurants, sits the Coffee4Craig drop-in .
Coffee4Craig is a charity providing necessary services for those sleeping rough in our city.
The drop-in, a mini library made up of donated books, continues to be well-loved by guests. A library, they say, which helps those struggling survive the days that don’t look so bright, or the winters that seem endless.
According to Coffee4Craig CEOs, Risha and Hendrix Lancaster, the donated books can have a considerable impact as readers will be introduced to characters and situations that mirror their own lives or provide a form of escapism.
Both Risha and Hendrix are avid readers and have had more than their fair share of hard times. They say books have given them a means to understand their own respective situations.
“His Dark Materials“, Risha starts, “by Philip Pullman, creates this whole universe with complex and changing worlds. It explores everything from organised religion to intimate family matters.”
“The great thing is, while you connect with the story from different angles, you don’t need to be constantly faced with your own looming issues. Your own life doesn’t have to be the only thing taking up your headspace. I think that’s why our guests really appreciate the library. Life on the streets is hard. Books allow you to connect with others. They allow you to have conversations about more than just the hardships.”
“I must have read through them a good, three or four times by now, the books being an ongoing series”.
Hendrix points to the semi-autobiographical piece, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, saying that the story “tackles self-hatred and a pursuit for inner peace. It opens up a dialogue similar to that of self-help books.”
“As Risha says, while you’re given an array of topics to consider other than your own difficulties, you still have elements of advice. Some events our guests might sympathise with. Other topics really help when you’re going through some of the things our guests are faced with.”
“They need to feel human, part of a wider society, something books can help out with.”
These are the reasons they’re launching an initiative to collect more books for their guests. Subsequently, Hendrix and Risha say it would be really beneficial to receive some more loved books. In addition to this, they’ve stressed how happy it would make guests if there is a note included to explain why the book of choice has been donated.
They said: “We’ve had a few rounds of donations like this, and I really can’t communicate to you the difference it’s made for some of our guys.”
“There’s a lot of prejudices against them, but a note in the book, saying why the book’s been chosen, can make them feel a little more included in society.”
“Now that, would really make a difference”.
To help make this difference, a book collection is ongoing.
If you’re interested in donating books, please bring them to the Mancunion Office at the Students’ Union.
Cofee4Craig is based at 52 Oldham Street, Manchester, if you’d like to volunteer, visit their website and fill out the available form.