Our new timetable runs from July to September and features some exciting new programmes.
Open Cinema launch
On 4th July we are launching our Open Cinema. This is a new cinema club which will be running every Monday afternoon. Films will be projected on a very large screen at the centre and we've had a surround sound speakers installed - so it should be an excellent experience. The timetable of films is is available here. There will also be shorts, popcorn and guest speakers from the film industry. Later in the summer we will also be making our own film, which will be screened at the end of the season. It's all free, including a buffet lunch, if people arrive for 12 noon.
Drama with the Royal Exchange
New members are welcome to join our drama group which holds workshops every Friday from 10:00 to 12:30 (followed by a free lunch). The group also get free trips to see plays at the Royal Exchange.
New members are also welcome to join our singing workshops on Wednesdays from 13:00 to 15:00. You are welcome to sit and watch if you don't want to join in straight away. You don't have to be a good singer, everyone can enjoy the sessions. The group get free trips to the Lowry to see Opera North productions.
Construction skills certification scheme
We are still offering free CSCS training and tests for people who want their health and safety card to work in the construction industry. People can practice on our computers (in a variety of languages) and when they are ready we will put them in for the test, pay for it and take them down to the test centre. It's a great way to get a qualification. You just need to come to our Employment Workshop from 09:00 to 12:00 on Monday mornings.
Christine, who has worked at the Booth Centre for over 10 years, retired at the end of June. Kate McSweeney, who has been in post since April, will be taking over her particular responsibilities for helping people into work. We wish Christine all the best for the future!
Our funding bid to the Big Lottery was successful and we were awarded £500,000 over the next 5 years. This enables us to build on our Activities Programme and will ensure that we can help more homeless people gain qualifications and to support more people to move on to employment, education, training or voluntary work in the community. So we are having a re-launch of our service.
Our new service launches on 4th April
The Booth Centre will be closed for a week from Monday 21st March to Friday 25th March. We'll be on hand to answer emails but nobody will be present at the Centre during this time.
The following week, from Monday 28th March to Friday 1st April, we will be holding open days to tell people about our new service from 9am to 12pm each day. Anyone can come along, and there is no need make an appointment. Staff are welcome to bring their service users or residents along if people don't want to come on their own. There will be free refreshments too.
Our new service starts on 4th April, which will feature a brand new timetable of activities.
We are also launching a new awards scheme to both encourage people to try new activities and to reward regular attendance. It is part of a programme to encourage people to improve their skills, increase their confidence and self esteem, to improve their health and to support people to move into employment, education, training or voluntary work, when they are ready. We will be inviting people's support workers to come to see them being presented with their awards, as we are keen that they see what people are acheiving and that we are working together to help people to move on.
Our old drop-in sessions are being replace by Cafe Advice, where people can come along and find out about our activities programme and sign up for sessions, use our computers to register for housing or search for jobs or get emergency advice and support to address housing, benefit, drug, alcohol or mental health problems. Specialist workers from BASH (Manchester Housing), the Homeless Mental Health Team and the Urban Village Medical Practice will continue to attend these sessions on a weekly basis. There will also be an emphasis on health and well being, including a free healthy menu, toiletries, socks and hats to help people keep their feet healthy and prevent hypothermia and/or sun stroke, depending on the time of year. As has always been the case, rough sleepers will be actively encourage to come off the streets and get support to maintain accommodation and street drinkers and drug users will be supported to reduce their consumption and to access treatment services.
New sports sessions
Our new timetable includes badminton at the Y-Club on Tuesday mornings and crown green bowling on Tuesday afternoons. These session will be great fun and no experience is needed. All the sessions are free, including travel, entry fees and refreshments.
Our Streetwise Opera group is putting on an Open Mic Night at the Manchester Museum on 30th March. Our Streetwise Opera music workshops are moving to Wednesday afternoons from 1-3pm from the start of April and we will be looking for new people to join the group. Anyone who is interested in music and/or drama or singing would really enjoy the sessions. They will be working with professional musicians from Opera North and will have the opportunity to see productions at the Lowry, free of charge.
Drama at the Royal Exchange
We have just started an exciting new three year partnership with the Royal Exchange Theatre which will give homeless people the opportunity to see plays at the theatre, gain work experience behind the scenes and build up their skills through weekly drama workshops. Two short collaborations we have run in the past showed that drama is a great way of helping people to increase their confidence, presentation skills and to get people working together in a really enjoyable way. People get a real buzz out of performing, especially in a professional theatre, and it gives them the opportunity to let the public see their talents and hear what they have to say. The groups first performances will be at the Royal Exchange and the City Art Gallery in April.
CSCS Health and Safety training
Our Monday morning Employment Workshop includes the opportunity for people to practice for their CSCS building site health and safety test. As soon as people are ready to take the test we will book them in and take them down to the test centre - all free of charge. This is a great opportunity for anyone who is thinking of going into the building trade in the future and many of our former participants are now working.
We are currently looking for volunteers who are or have been homeless who are interested in helping out at the Booth Centre for one morning or afternoon a week for 3 months. While helping to prepare and serve meals at the Centre they can gain their level 1 catering qualifcation. We pay travel expenses and will help people to move onto other volutneering or paid employment when they have completed their 3 month volunteering placement with us. Anyone who is interested should take a look at our volunteering page.
Thank you for all your support - it is helping to transform the lives of homeless people.
Christmas appeal - a big thank you
Our Christmas appeal was a great success with more hats, gloves, toiletries, food and money donated than in any previous year. This has meant that no one has had to go without a woolly hat or a pair of gloves during what has been one of the coldest winters for years. We were also able to get everyone sleeping rough into special emergency accommodation during the very cold spells. We now have a store of socks and toiletries so everyone who comes to the centre is offered a pack of the essentials, which ensures that they can keep themselves clean.
Drama at the Royal Exchange
We have just started an exciting new three-year partnership with the Royal Exchange Theatre which will give homeless people the opportunity to see plays at the theatre, gain work experience behind the scenes and build up their skills through weekly drama workshops. Two short collaborations we have run in the past showed that drama is a great way of helping people to increase their confidence, presentation skills and to get people working together in a really enjoyable way. People get a real buzz out of performing, especially in a professional theatre, and it gives them the opportunity to let the public see their talents and hear what they have to say. We'll update our website with details about public performances by the group, but if you would like to be kept in the loop you can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.
We have been awarded a £500,000 grant from the National Lottery, which will enable us to build on and improve our activities programme and enable us to get more people qualifications and help more people to move on to employment, education, training or voluntary work in the community. This grant secures the wages for two workers for 5 years plus it will pay for some of our activities and helps with some of the Centre’s running costs. This is great news, particularly at a time when some of our other funding, which comes from Manchester City Council has still not been confirmed. This funding will also ensure that donations we receive from individuals, schools and other organisations can go directly to helping homeless people and will not have to be used to fund administration or the salaries of our project workers.
Turning empty flats into homes
When people have lived on the streets and then spent between 6 months and 2 years in hostels they are so excited when they finally get an offer of a flat. However, very often this is just the beginning of a very hard journey to try and make this empty flat into a real home. Some people (but not everyone) are able to apply for a Community Care Grant from the Job Centre to help pay for some essential items of furniture like a bed. However, usually a chair, table, fridge or carpets are not considered essentials and certainly a TV, even a second hand one, would not be paid for.
After a long time living communally both on the streets and in hostels it is very lonely to be on your own without even a radio to break the silence. For some people it is too much and they end up inviting people back to their flats and very soon they have complaints from neighbours about the noise, and are evicted back onto the streets with little prospect of being offered a flat again in the future. This is a hugely damaging process for the individual, who feels like a failure all over again.
This is the cycle of homelessness that we try and break by giving people as much support as possible when they get a new flat and by getting them involved in positive activities at the Centre to build up their social networks and coping skills. We know that if we can help someone get a job as well as a flat then they are much less likely to ever become homeless again.
Sponsor a new home
We have recently launched a fund to tackle this problem in a really practical and positive way. This new fund will be used to buy furniture, carpets, bedding, cookers, pots and pans for people moving into new flats. It is being kick started by the Booth Centre’s Co-ordinator, Amanda Croome, who will be running the Manchester Bupa 10K run in May, and she is inviting anyone else who is doing the run (or the Wilmslow ½ Marathon or any other running events) to join her in setting up a sponsorship page on our JustGiving site to raise funds to support this initiative.
We hope to raise enough money to ensure that every person who we help to get a flat is provided with the practical things they need (as well as the support) to make a real home and have a fresh start.
If anyone would like to help by donating furniture they can do this by contacting the Mustard Tree – they have a great furniture warehouse where we take people to buy the things they need at very low cost.
If you would like to sponsor Amanda, you can do so via her JustGiving page.
Thank you for all your support - it is helping to transform the lives of homeless people.