A project by the Booth Centre, a homeless day centre in Manchester, to help local people become more active and healthier has won backing from Sport England.
The Booth Centre has been awarded funding as part of Sport England’s strategy to improve people’s health and mental wellbeing through sport and activity.
Sport England is funding a wide range of projects around the country, using varying approaches to help people to feel healthier, happier, more confident and able to cope with life’s pressures, or more connected to their families and communities.
Sport England research shows that a third of people on low incomes are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath each week. And inactivity in people on a low income is twice that of people on a high income.
The Booth Centre in Manchester supports people who are homeless, or with experience of homelessness, to move into sustainable accommodation, improve their health, find employment and take steps to build a more positive future. With the support of the funding from Sport England, the Booth Centre will be able to offer more people the opportunity to take part in sports activities by providing free sessions, purchasing clothing and equipment and working in partnership with sporting experts and other community organisations.
Booth Centre’s CEO, Amanda Croome, said: “We’re delighted to have this support from Sport England to enhance our sports programme at the Booth Centre. We have seen the transformative impact that being able to access sport has for people’s physical and mental well being, and we want to be able to help more people who visit our centre to get involved in new activities. It really can be a life changing opportunity for the people we support.”
Darren, 48 and from Manchester, is a volunteer at the Booth Centre. Darren has been supported by the Booth Centre in the past, and now spends his time helping to run and take part in sports sessions at the centre.
Darren said: “Being able to help run and take part in sports activities like table tennis, boxing and running at the Booth Centre has been so beneficial for me personally. It’s not only improved my physical fitness, but also my mental health and confidence, and I’ve been able to develop some new skills. I never thought I’d be able to try archery for example, it’s a lot of fun! The sessions are free so it takes the cost away for people, which makes it all more accessible. The centre has helped me get involved in sports that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried and at my age, it’s really important to keep a healthy body and mind.”
Sport England Executive Director, Mike Diaper, said: “The Booth Centre has a strong track record of working with their local community and we’re very excited by how their project could make such a positive difference to people’s lives.
“We know that people on a low income can face many pressures that make it difficult for them to be as active as they would like to be. So we’re working with community-focused organisations across the country to find ways to help people fit physical activity into their lives in ways that work for them.
“The lessons we learn from this local project will really help to shape our work with similar groups across the country.”
Find out more about joining the Booth Centre's running team in this year's Great Manchester Run!
Jimmy had been married with two children and self-employed in the steel construction industry. He went through a difficult divorce that left him homeless. A number of jobs did not come through and he ended up living in his car and driving about the country looking for work. His last job left him in the Manchester area, but no further work arose. He ended up having to abandon his car as he had no money to run it or park it.
He slept rough in Manchester city centre for approximately six months and this is how he first accessed the Booth Centre. He found employment, with help from the Booth Centre and Business in the Community whilst rough sleeping, which enabled him to gain access to a bed and breakfast for employed people. He lived in the bed and breakfast for two years and worked on and off in steel construction.
He then developed a serious hernia that prevented him from being able to work and he started accessing the Booth Centre again. His favourite activity is art, which is something he has been passionate about his entire life. He has also volunteered in the kitchen and recently took part in a self-defence class. Jimmy also frequently uses our advice service and since April 2017 he has been working with one of our Project Workers on helping him to secure a long term home and to achieve his long term goals.
He was supported by the Booth Centre to gain access to welfare benefits. However, he had fallen into rent arrears with the bed and breakfast and was in danger of becoming street homeless once again. The Booth Centre was able to negotiate with the bed and breakfast owner to allow him to stay there through claiming Housing Benefit. A small Big Change application was successful to pay off the rent arrears and stop him from being evicted onto the streets.
He was supported at the Booth Centre to register on Manchester Move and through bidding he successfully secured an unfurnished over 55s flat. This was life changing for him as it meant he had a safe and secure home for life. He was supported to set up the tenancy. This involved practical measures such as setting up utility providers, claiming housing benefit and purchasing household items using a Big Change grant. In September he reached pension age and we helped him to claim his pension.
Jimmy told us at Christmas that he feels secure in his flat and that it is the first time in a long time he felt he could focus on things important to him, like contacting his sister who he hasn’t spoken to for many years, rather than just getting by. He is also interested in pursuing art classes where he could gain a qualification. This is a testament to the goals and aspirations people can plan and aspire to once they are supported past the practical difficulties they are facing, and discover or rediscover their strengths and capabilities.
On 10th November, I slept outside Manchester Cathedral with a group of colleagues. As an abstract idea it seemed like a simple and easy thing to do, but the reality was much different.
I have lived and worked in Manchester city centre for just over 3 years now. Over this time, the number of people sleeping on the streets seems to have increased dramatically. It’s a sad thing, when you are no longer surprised by the numbers of people you see living on the streets every day, and something needs to be done about it. Cue the amazing work that the Booth Centre does, and the reason that it is so important to support them.
We started the night with a talk about the Booth Centre from Amanda Croome and we heard from some of the Centre’s users whilst fortifying ourselves with hot drinks in preparation for the cold we knew was waiting outside. One thing that really got me, from Amanda’s speech, is the rise of trench foot in the homeless community. This is an illness that was rife in the first world war due to the water standing in the trenches where the soldier’s lived, and is now prevalent in a community in 2017. This just seems wrong. It was in the forefront of my mind throughout the night, and especially in the morning as I put my wet socks into my wet shoes. However, I knew they were the first things I would take off when I got home, something that homeless people don’t have the opportunity to do.
After an amazing performance by the Streetwise Opera group and a sing along, we were sent outside in to the wild. It was a grim night, but that was all it was, just one night. The rain and the cold kept us shivering in our several layers of clothes and sleeping bags, under umbrellas. I didn’t really sleep during the night. The lights, the noise and the uncertainty of the surroundings making relaxing into slumber virtually impossible.
When it was over and we were back in the Cathedral at the end of the night, conversation turned to getting home to our hot baths and our warm beds. We sat drinking tea and eating our bacon sandwiches. This was just an interruption in the general course of our lives. A chance to say that yes we did something really good for charity, and whilst we will continue to work with and support the Booth Centre, it is very easy for us to just move on and return to our normal lives. The homeless community in Manchester don’t have this chance. They can’t just wash the experiences, the cold and the dirt from their bodies and put their wet clothes straight in the washing machine.
We had experienced some form of sleeping out, but a very diluted form, a safe environment with other people’s body heat, security staff, fences and tea and coffee on demand. It is something that I will always remember, and I will never think about homelessness in the same way again.
Jayne Howell, Team Eversheds Sutherland
On Friday 10th November 2017, nearly 400 people took part in the Booth Centre's annual Manchester Sleepout challenge in the grounds of Manchester Cathedral.
The Manchester Sleepout, now in its 7th year, invites members of the community to take on the challenge of sleeping out for one night only to get a glimpse of the hardships faced by homeless people night after night. The event aims to raise awareness of the issue, and is not intended to simulate the real experience of sleeping rough on the streets.
A record number of individuals and teams joined the event this year, and raised over £100,000 to go towards the vital services offered by the Booth Centre. Huge thanks to everyone who took part, and for your hard work fundraising! The funds raised will make a positive difference to so many lives.
The Manchester Sleepout returns on Friday 9th November 2018, and we'd love you to join us. Register here to receive email updates from us and we can let you know when registration opens in the summer.
Check out the photos from the 2017 Manchester Sleepout on our Facebook page.
An innovative hostel for homeless people will be officially opened on Tuesday 10 October, World Homeless Day.
The Stop, Start, Go Sustainable Living hostel in Cheetham Hill has been jointly funded by Manchester City Council, The Mayor of Greater Manchester’s Homelessness Fund and the Edward Holt Trust, a charity which originated in a 1950s endowment from a member of the Joseph Holt brewing family and has helped a number of homelessness projects across Greater Manchester with capital funds and other support costs.
The centre, which currently has 12 beds – a figure which will soon rise to 15 – provides medium-term accommodation to get people who are rough sleeping off the streets while they get their lives back on track, with support to get them in education, training or employment and find somewhere permanent to live.
Its work includes ensuring that people who are already in work but fall into homelessness have somewhere stable to stay and do not lose their jobs while they get back on their feet.
Rough sleepers are referred to Stop, Start, Go by the Booth Centre, which supports people who have lost their homes or are at risk of doing so, and will also continue to benefit from access to activities there.
Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This hostel is an inspiring example of the partnership approach we are taking to addressing the challenge of homelessness in this city.
“We warmly welcome the support of the Mayor and the Edward Holt Trust which, together with the Council’s funding, have helped make this hostel a reality. It is only one part of a concerted approach to this issue but no less important for that and I’m confident it will change lives for the better by not just putting a roof over people’s heads but crucially also providing the wraparound support which will help them move forwards in their lives.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “The opening of the Stop, Start, Go Centre is a big step forward as we work to end rough sleeping in Greater Manchester. The people using the accommodation have themselves been the ones who helped shape how this new centre will work and I’m confident their approach will make a real difference. The Centre’s plans to offer tailored support for as long as people need it, is exactly the approach I want to see across Greater Manchester.
“The generosity that people have shown by donating to my homelessness fund has helped this centre to open its doors. We’re beginning to make a real difference together, but the work is just starting and we still need your help to support more excellent projects like this one. Any amount you can donate, no matter how small, will go straight to organisations who are helping rough sleepers and homeless people across Greater Manchester.”
Richard Kershaw, Chair of the Edward Holt Trust said: “We are pleased to be able to offer vital additional funding to this new hostel, as part of our commitment to the work of one of its partners, the Booth Centre. It is vital that people are helped to hold down jobs and make the difficult transition from homelessness to independent living.”
Hostel resident Mohammed Abdulkarim, aged 22, said: "Since coming to SSG, I have started college and sorted out my health. I am a new being and my future looks good now.
Fellow resident Lee Wright, aged 41, said: "Coming here has made a massive difference to me. I was on the streets for a year. Staff have been very helpful and helped me to feel better psychologically about myself. A new outlook has opened up for me and I feel happier about the future.”
The centre started receiving referrals at the end of August this year.
We're taking part in Remember A Charity in your Will Week from 11th - 17th September 2017!
Every year, more and more people like to leave a gift to charity in their Will. Most of our funds supporting our vital services for homeless people now come from donations; but it’s a little known fact that gifts in Wills are actually one of our most vital sources of funding, especially for the future. Charitable legacies are the foundation for causes like ours and are vital for us to continue our work supporting homeless people in our community, even a small amount can make a difference. In addition, the demand for our services in Manchester is ever increasing.
That's why we're delighted to launch a new partnership with Damsons Future Planning, who offer a free Will writing service. Writing a Will is one of the most important things you can do, helping you to take care of your loved ones and your favourite causes and plan for your future.
Thanks to Damsons Future Planning, you can have your Will written for free and make a donation to the Booth Centre at the same time.
Find out more about Damsons Future Planning and their free Will service here.
Volunteers' Week 1st - 7th June 2017
This week we've been celebrating Volunteers' Week by recognising the amazing contribution of our volunteers, like Scott.
"I'm in recovery and it was suggested to do some volunteer work to help me get well and it's the most rewarding thing."
Each week we welcome volunteer chefs, artists, musicians, hairdressers and more to the Booth Centre and each week they astound us with their skill and dedication, they really are the lifeblood of the centre.
So let's hear it for the volunteers! You can catch up with their stories over on our Twitter page, @BoothCentre, and you can find out how to join them by visiting the Get Involved section of the website.
The Booth Centre runs creative workshops every day for people who visit the centre with experience of homelessness. This year the arts group have formed an Arts Committee who meet regularly to discuss ideas for new projects, research exhibition venues and plan events to showcase their work.
The Booth Centre Arts Committee are delighted to announce they are planning a special exhibition of portraits and biographies this summer at an iconic Manchester venue to be revealed very soon. The idea of the project was created by the artists after discussions about the invisibility and isolation felt while experiencing homelessness.
Details of the exhibition will be available soon, watch this space! Save the date of 3rd July in your diaries for an exciting launch event. You will have the chance to meet the artists, get involved in interactive arts workshops and hear more about the Booth Centre's arts programme.
This afternoon the Arts Committee have met to progress plans for the promotion and launch of this very special exhibition. We can't wait to tell you more about it in the coming weeks!
For more information, follow us on the following sites:
The Booth Centre is an advice and activities Centre for people who have experienced homelessness in Manchester. Our work involves the provision of support to some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the community with aim of transforming their lives. We are a registered charity (no. 1062674) and have been operating since 1995. In that time the Booth Centre has become recognised national leader in its field.
We currently have 7 Trustee Board members and are looking for additional trustees.
Being on the Board of the Booth Centre offers you the chance to use and develop your skills and experience. You will be actively involved in the strategy, governance and decision making of this influential charity. You can find out more about our work, download more information about the trustee role and find out how to apply by downloading the application pack below.
We strongly encourage and welcome applications from all walks of life, including people who have a personal experience of homelessness, and wish to ensure our Board increases the diversity of its membership across all protected characteristics-as defined by the Equalities Act.
This is an unpaid position. Expenses incurred while travelling to meetings will be paid. All trustees of the Booth Centre are subject to a DBS check.
For an informal discussion about the trustee role or to request information to be sent to you please contact Amanda Croome MBE, Chief Executive on 0161 835 2499 or email Amanda@boothcentre.org.uk
Closing date: January 15th 2017
By Cathy Chapman
Saturday 5th November 2016
It’s 8am and I have just got back home to the friends’ house where I am staying for the winter, after doing the Booth Centre's Manchester Sleepout.
Scrolling through the photos on my phone and enjoying the warmth of the dawn sunlight streaming through the windows, all I can think this morning is: how lucky I am. To be alive. To be warm. To have a bed to fall into when I eventually get tired enough. To have the love and support of friends and the kindness of strangers to cheer me on. To know there’s food in the fridge and hot water in the bathroom to wash in. Sure it’s the basics, but it’s the basics that I sometimes forget to be grateful for, and the basics that the people I was fundraising for last night don’t have access to. Basic necessities, basic human rights, the things all humans need to have some kind of dignity.
I thought we were in for a really tough night. The day stormed on, the Manchester skies turned a familiar grey and the early evening gave us a steady downpour. I arrived to register at the Cathedral early, and watched the sodden crowds appearing, shaking water from their coats, off umbrellas, out of their ears. My friend Helen ran over to hug me when we found each other. She was drenched. There was soup, tea, snacks. Warm water in the toilets. Little groups huddled around the building to listen to the welcome.
The Canon David Holgate gave a warm opening, saying how close the Booth Centre and its work is to the hearts of those in the Cathedral. I was touched that he and two other canons were also sleeping rough with us. He described the scene of the sleep outers in front of him as a ‘crazy Glastonbury vibe.’ I volunteer at Glastonbury every year and I thought – yes, there is a similar sense here tonight of camaraderie, outdoor adventures and sleeping close to strangers.
Amanda Croome, the Booth Centre CEO gave us a picture of the work done in figures; the 700 hot meals served every week, the 489 people placed in temporary accommodation over the last year, the 250 individuals the centre supports every week. Like last year, she told us that street homelessness has risen to the highest levels for twenty five years.
It makes me so angry that in our rich and beautiful and diverse and creative and amazing city, some people are so poor, and so trapped in that poverty. Charity is never an act of total altruism; it gave me the chance to do something practical, bat away some of the frustration and hopelessness I feel about the times we’re living through. It’s like we’ve gone right back to the 80s. I don’t mean batwing jumpers or moonwalking or New Romantics or bad haircuts. I mean the conscious cruelty of the drastic cuts over the last six years; the sharp rise in poverty and homelessness; the lack of hope for a future. Can we stop this now; it’s not what we ordered. I’d like a different world please.
It made me think about my reasons for doing the big sleep out. I’ve volunteered in the Mustard Tree soup kitchen once a month, for four years, and seen the situation for homeless people getting worse. I wanted to raise funds, to give the small amount that I can to the Booth Centre, so that they can keep on providing the hot breakfasts and dinners and training and job clubs and drama and art activities. To help get people off the streets and back on their feet and into a place where they can see a future again. To raise awareness of how stark the situation is for rough sleepers right now with the budget slashes to services for debt and housing advice, for mental health, for drug and alcohol addiction and the closure of hostels.
But mainly it’s because I want to show solidarity with the people who have nothing; no home, no hope and no protection against the weather. I wanted to sleep outside just for one night and experience what life’s like for them, every night.
Two people who've been supported by Booth Centre spoke. Chris now has accommodation and he volunteers with the Booth Centre because he wants to give something back. He told us that being on the streets is soul destroying. He gave us a couple of tips. Find somewhere dry. Stick with your friends. There’s safety in numbers. He wished us a peaceful and dry night, and I was glad of his blessing, for the wishes came true. Danny gave us similar advice, and shared his own story of a full mental breakdown, followed by a discharge from a hospital when he had nowhere to go. Four years later he’s back on his feet, and he talked about the hope, help and friendship offered at the Booth Centre. He thanked everyone sleeping out for their support, and the Booth Centre for giving him back his pride. I thought they were inspiring to get up and share such difficult stories. Danny’s gratitude made me cry.
After a lively performance from Streetwise Opera, it was time to head outside into the night. We found a spot up close to the cathedral and bedded down, with cups of tea and cardboard and the inevitable selfies for social media. The meeting of two very different worlds.
It was cold. Even though we were incredibly lucky and it stopped raining at around 10pm, I shivered for most of the night. I lay and watched clouds covering us and clearing, and looked up at the stars, feeling protected by the ancient Cathedral building behind me.
I felt the lack of privacy acutely. Folks falling out of pubs at closing time wandered past, stopped and stared. They inquired very loudly why there were so many humans bedded down on the grass. Last year one drunken man leered at me over the wall. ‘Alright darlin’ - any room for me in that sleeping bag?’ His mates thought him hilarious. The stewards were near, nothing would happen to me in the midst of three hundred other fundraisers, I reassured myself. But it made me think once again; how life on the streets must be petrifying for women, constantly at risk of sexual harassment and assault. They must never get a sound night’s kip.
It was anxiety-making. We had it easy, tucked away from passers-by inside the Cathedral walls, and no drugs or alcohol allowed. But still; I was frightened that someone would be careless or clumsy and trip over me. I’m on one crutch, recovering after breaking a bone in my left foot and snapping the tendons. Two guys in front of me woke me up and wriggled out of their sleeping bags. One of them caught hold of the other to stop him stumbling over. I guess he was tired and therefore unsteady. ‘He nearly joined you in that sleeping bag,’ said his mate, thinking I’d find it a funny joke. I didn’t.
It was noisy. Sirens screeched as the emergency services navigated the chaos that is Friday Night Out turned Early Hours of Saturday Morning. Clatters and bangs came from the construction workers putting Manchester’s outdoor ice rink together. Street sweepers appeared. Trains rumbled in the distance; there was a constant hum of traffic and car horns. Ear plugs, I thought. That’s what I didn’t pack.
Eventually I dozed off, some while before we were moved on. I woke up to the rustling of orange survival bags all around me – this year’s must-have for would-be rough sleepers. ‘Morning,’ said my neighbour. The sky was turning from pitch black to blue, but dawn was still some way off. ‘It’s packing up time.’ I dozed a bit longer, before Amanda came over to tell us there was breakfast in the Cathedral. ‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘Bacon or egg sandwiches.’ That was enough motivation to get me out of my warm sleeping bag and stand upright in the cold early morning air. Helen was still sleepy. ‘C’mon. There’s bacon butties inside.’ She bestirred herself.
We got our certificates, and took more photos together inside the Cathedral. I was proud of myself for doing the event, and staying outside all night. But it’s only one night. Easy if you can come straight home to a bath and a washing machine afterwards. I can’t imagine how tired and befuddled I would become if I had to do this every night. The exhaustion must have such an impact on mental health and wellbeing. I’ve a whole year to recover before the next sleepout.
I waved Helen onto the tram, then struggled home with all my bedding and jumpers. The living room was full of winter sunshine. I flopped onto the sofa and opened my laptop to write, enjoying the peace and the solitude.
When I unpacked, a postcard fell out of my bag. A reminder of a cinema trip with a friend earlier in the week. It was from one of the most heart-wrenching but authentic state-of-the-nation films I’ve seen in recent years.
We Are All Daniel Blake.
We Are All Rough Sleepers.