Homelessness is bad enough at any time of the year. But, at Christmas, it becomes an even more harrowing part of city life.
When I say “harrowing”, that’s not because I have any, remote idea what it’s like to be homeless; rather I’m lucky enough to have a place to live, with all the basic human needs of food, clothing, warmth and with family and friends close at hand. I’ve never had to comprehend what life would be like without those things that, admittedly, I take for granted.
And that’s why, this year, Metamorphic PR is donating to a homeless charity in our home city of Manchester.
Manchester, according to national homeless charity Shelter, has the highest levels of homelessness in North West England, with an estimated 2,000 people living either on the streets or in temporary accommodation. But you don’t need official figures to know there’s a homelessness problem in Manchester that doesn’t seem to be getting better. Walk through city centre Manchester at any time of day or night and you will find people trying to sleep, keep warm and survive on the streets of an otherwise prosperous city.
Whatever the root causes of homelessness – not just in Manchester, anywhere – it’s easy to blame the Government or local authority for not doing enough. Granted, they probably deserve our disapprobation; but I don’t think it’s enough for us, as a community, to lambast public servants without taking our own action where we can.
So, with that in mind, we are donating to the Greater Manchester Winter Night Shelter. As the website explains, it makes beds available to rough sleepers in a network of seven churches:
“The aim of the GMWNS is to provide guests with temporary accommodation alongside the support from the staff and services at the Booth Centre [Manchester charity providing help and advice to homeless people] with the aim of helping them towards creating a home.
“The project has at its core an ethos of hospitality and mutuality, and aims to create a welcoming, homely atmosphere. Guests and volunteers sit down to eat together and join in conversation and activities. There is a selection of materials available to pass the time such as television, reading material and games, and tea, coffee and/or cold water is available for guests’ use throughout their stay.”
Shelter’s Manchester Hub Manager, John Ryan, said: “A modern day housing crisis is tightening its grip on our country. Thousands of people will face the trauma of waking up homeless this Christmas.”
Our donation won’t change the world, nor will it eliminate homelessness in our city. However, it might just make life a bit more bearable for a number of our fellow citizens who find themselves in this position. And if the community reading this exercises its collective good will and kindness at Christmas, it will make life bearable for a lot more homeless people.
So, if you haven’t already exhausted your capacity for charitable activity, I urge you join us in helping Manchester’s homeless community at a time of year that, in its purest meaning, is a time for giving.
Photo: Garry Knight on Flickr.