A key objective of the Foundation’s work is addressing poverty and homelessness . Local charities that focus on this huge challenge play a vital role in improving the lives of many. We identified Lifeshare in Manchester, the city’s oldest homeless charity, to support and work along side. We are delighted to have made two grants aimed at providing food for people of all ages whose “homes” are the street.
We invited Ellen Rowshanzamir, Finance and Funding Manager at Lifeshare, to tell us about this special charity. This is what Ellen said.
“In 1984, a group of volunteers noticed a gap in provisions for those who were sleeping rough in and around Manchester, and Lifeshare was born. We began visiting the clients on the streets they called home, providing hot soup, brews, and signposting to where they could get help. We offered an ear to listen, and a heart that cared, and that remains our focus to this day.
Over the years we have prided ourselves on adapting to the needs on the city. In 1991, we held our first Christmas project. We were met with disbelief and criticism for bringing it indoors, being told that it wouldn’t work and the clients could never be in a room together without there being trouble. That Christmas project is still running today, going from strength to strength. Last year, we served over 2,200 meals, and had 700+ guests attend.
Today, we provide a 7 day a week wrap around service for the homeless, those at risk of homelessness and those at risk of exploitation across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester. We offer multiple projects to meet the needs of our clients:
– Young Peoples Service; We specialise in working with the youth homeless with complex needs, using a person-centred approach, we empower our young people to make their own decisions and take directive of their lives. We support them from the streets, through mental and physical health support, gaining and maintaining accommodation, support through and leading them out of the criminal justice system and substance abuse support.
– Respite service; This service runs Friday, Saturday and Sundays from 6-10am, aimed at homeless clients, providing a full cooked breakfast, showers, toiletries, clothing, signposting to other services, and offering training sessions such as digital inclusion and cooking sessions.
– Manchester Digital Collective; This is a collaboration with other charities and public sectors around Greater Manchester, aiming to bridge the digital divide within the city. We teach digital skills in order to prevent digital exclusion. We also provide digital devices as required free of charge to those who need them, including SIM cards with data, calls and message allowances, and data for those receiving laptops and tablets.
– Food Bank; For our clients and those referred in by other agencies such as social services. We provide food parcels to cover a 3-day period, aiming to support those who cannot get support elsewhere, or are suddenly in crisis.
Lifeshare wouldn’t be where it is today without our ongoing support from our volunteers. We currently have a bank of over 400 volunteers who work tirelessly in each of the projects they participate in, to remain kind, non-judgemental and supportive to our clients. We offer a range of opportunities; from cooking and clothing sorting at our Respite and Christmas projects, to digital skills support in our Digital Inclusion work, to sorting food parcels and office work at our main office.
We do not receive any statutory or government funding for the work that we do, therefore we rely heavily on the generous support from local people, businesses, and of course grant funders. We also utilise donations of goods, such as food for breakfast, Christmas, or food parcels, clothing, sleeping bags, and services such as hairdressing, barbers, medical professionals, and even entertainment.
Our clients are always at the forefront of everything we do. We advocate strongly for a person-centred approach, listening to the needs and wants of our services users, and designing plans and goals with them to achieve this. We want them to feel welcomed, valued, and cared for, regardless of race, creed, sexuality, gender, age, level of ability, or HIV status.
“Overall, Lifeshare has been fantastic, as cliché as it sounds, I honestly would not be alive if not for the hard work and compassion of everyone at Lifeshare, my life was not only saved by them but improved so much. I still have a long way to go in becoming a better person and learning things about life I should already know, but I know that Lifeshare will always be there as they have done.
Now, thanks to Lifeshare, I can move on from my past and build a positive future.” – Testimony from a Lifeshare client.
If you are looking for volunteering opportunities, would like to donate (either goods, services, or money), or simply wish to find our more, please visit www.lifeshare.org.uk”
Ellen will be updating us on the Respite and Christmas Projects early next year.