Homeless people in Greater Manchester and Stockport have handmade the first history of British homelessness, which will debut at the Houses of Parliament next week.
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, will open the exhibition in the Upper Waiting Hall of the House of Commons at 3pm on May 24, 2016. The exhibition will be on display in Parliament for the rest of the week and then go on to public exhibition at the Southbank Festival of Love, 9 July-18 September and will tour venues in NW England.
The Homeless Library has been made by local homeless people and opens up previously untold stories of the lives of homeless people through interviews, artworks, poems and handmade books. This unique and unprecedented history of British homelessness has been devised by arts organisation arthur+martha.
Ms Coffey said:
"This project is both a piece of history and an art piece. I don't think I've ever come across anything like it before. It's beautiful. These are fascinating stories that need to be heard. Being heard is something that everybody needs, it makes us a society. Maybe these books are something we can all learn from - and maybe we can help the storytellers."
Many homeless people live and die as ‘invisibles’. When they die their very existence sometimes leaves no mark. This project opens up an untold chronicle, that exists off the pages of official history books.
Instead, it is a history based on conversations: people's descriptions of their own lives, as told by contemporary homeless people and also older people who witnessed homelessness from the 1930s onwards. Along with interviews, there are artworks and poems. Many people involved found that these discussions and making the artworks and poems were a transformative experience.
Each book in the Library is handmade - often recycling secondhand books, which were customised and handwritten. Recycled secondhand books make the point that homeless history has been crowded out by other voices.
The Homeless Library is supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund and partnered with the Booth Centre, The Wellspring, and Bury Art Museum. Alongside photos of the handwritten books, you can read the interviews at The Homeless Library page on Facebook and blogspot, see addresses below.
co-directors: Lois Blackburn & Philip Davenport
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/homelesslibrary
Mowgli Street Food joined Manchester’s busy restaurant scene last summer as part of the new look Corn Exchange in the city centre. As well as bringing great value, fresh and edgy Indian small plate recipes to the city, owner Nisha Katona was keen to really make a positive difference in the local community through her business.
Following a visit to Manchester’s Booth Centre, a day centre supporting homeless people and with concern for the growing number of people sleeping rough in the city, Nisha vowed to do something to help. Nisha and Mowgli Street Food are now proud to be the first restaurant partner in the Booth Centre’s Food for Change initiative. An optional donation of £1 added to each bill is helping to raise vital funds to go towards the centre’s work in supporting people to move off the streets and realise a more positive future. In just 3 months, the scheme has contributed over £7,000 towards the Booth Centre’s services. In addition, restaurant staff will give their time to volunteer at the centre and collect essential items of food and toiletries.
The Booth Centre provides advice to find accommodation, education, training and help to secure employment, free healthy meals, support in tackling issues with health and addiction, and creative activities to boost confidence and self-esteem. Amanda Croome, CEO of the Booth Centre said:
“We are now seeing up to 100 people a day coming to us for support, a huge increase in the last 12 months. The money raised by Mowgli is helping us to continue to offer life-saving support for people in our city who find themselves forced to sleep rough, whether it be emergency help like food and showers, or the more long term support and advice to move off the streets. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with such a passionate local business whose staff are keen to really get involved with the work of centre. We can’t thank them enough for what they’re doing and would encourage other restaurants interested in supporting our Food for Change initiative to get in touch.”
Entrepreneur, Food for Change Ambassador and author, Nisha said:
“When choosing a charity to support, it is critical that my staff feel enthusiasm and motivated. We often visit the Booth Centre and are constantly blown away by the incredible work they do to change lives. As a barrister, my clients were often homeless and I know first-hand how homelessness is often seen as self-inflicted and unworthy. The Booth Centre is not a hand out organisation: they fundamentally turn lives around by retraining and equipping people to find their feet. The idea of the optional addition to the bill came to me when I ate out in London recently; their generous service charges are automatically added on even if service has been diabolical. It means customers have to engage a bit of brain before paying the bill. There is no reason why we should not do the same if that small addition actually takes a life in our local community and makes it whole again.“
On Wednesday 4th May 7pm Nisha Katona will discuss the story behind Mowgli at Waterstones Deansgate, whilst cooking some of the restaurant's favourite recipes, with an audience Q&A and book signing for Nisha's wonderful first book Pimp My Rice. Tickets £4, available on www.waterstones.com/events or 0161 837 3000
A leading Manchester business is relying on the sporting enthusiasm of its employees to help tackle the city's growing homeless problem.
Around 200 runners will represent global media and digital marketing communications company Dentsu Aegis Network Manchester in the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22, aiming to raise more than £20,000 in sponsorship.
The donations will help fund the employment support programme at the Booth Centre.
Dentsu Aegis has its Manchester offices in Portland Street by the start line for the 10k run which each year continues to attract a large number of businesses for the Great Manchester Run Business Challenge. Dentsu Aegis has 400 staff in Manchester working across brands such as Carat, iProspect, Vizeum, Fetch, Amplifi and Amnet, making it the largest media and communications agency outside London.
Running for the Dentsu team will be staff, friends, family, clients and suppliers, the company realising that one of Manchester's biggest sporting occasions is an opportunity to bring everyone together. A team of staff and volunteers from the Booth Centre will run alongside their corporate partners, aiming to boost the funds raised.
> Show your support and sponsor Team BC for their 10k run
Amanda Croome, CEO of the Booth Centre, said: "We're delighted to be supported by over 200 staff from Dentsu Aegis Network in this year's Great Manchester Run. This is the most people we've ever had running in support of our work! We're here to bring about positive change in the lives of homeless people, and to help them plan for and realise a better future. The problem of homelessness in Manchester is worse than ever, so this support is so vital.
"The funds raised by Dentsu Aegis Network will go towards helping hundreds of people with experience of homelessness to access training, education and support to find employment which will help them to build a life away from the streets and stay off the streets in the long term. We can't thank the staff enough for their commitment to helping change lives in our community."
> Sign up to take part in the Great Manchester Run
Booth Centre Streetwise Opera performers were proud to be part of a world premiere landmark opera production of 'The Passion' over Easter weekend! If you missed out on tickets you can still see the full opera below which was televised on BBC Four.
Thank you to everyone who came along and supported the performers who worked so hard and did a fantastic job! Huge thanks also to the Streetwise Opera team for making it all happen. See some of the fantastic media coverage and videos below, and let us know what you think.
Media coverage of The Passion
BBC Television Breakfast - 26th March
BBC Arts Online - Height of Passion: How Manchester performers are bringing Bach up to date - 23rd March
Manchester Evening News - Watch: The choir made up of former homeless people now performing Bach for Easter - 25th March
The Big Issue - The Passion: From the streets to the stage with Streetwise Opera and The Sixteen - 21st March
Review - Manchester Confidential - 30th March 2016
The Times - five star review - 28th March
The Guardian - four star review - 28th March
The Stage - four star review - 27th March
We're proud to work in partnership with many different organisations and individuals who bring specialist skills to the Booth Centre as part of our varied activities and employment support programme. At the moment we're working with arthur + martha on The Homeless Library project. Each week people who visit the Booth Centre with experience of homelessness get the chance to tell their stories through creative writing and arts workshops.
People have really been enjoying the opportunity to express themselves, explore their creative sides and learn new skills. This week's workshop uncovered some honest accounts about the dangerous use of legal highs in prison and previous sessions have unearthed feelings about the sheer loneliness and isolation of being homeless.
Read more on The Homeless Library blog here.
It's been great to see all the fabulous new restaurants that have opened in the newly refurbished Corn Exchange in Manchester city centre recently.
We were lucky enough to receive a visit from Nisha Katona, owner of Indian street food restaurant Mowgli before Christmas. Nisha and her team at the Corn Exchange restaurant have since decided to show their support for homeless people in Manchester by adopting the Booth Centre to benefit from their fundraising. An optional £1 donation will be added to each final bill, this will add up and really make a difference to our work helping people to move off the streets and resettle in the community.
Nisha said: "We're here, at the centre of the community, and we should recognise that and give our community more than just food".
We're looking forward to working more closely with the team at Mowgli and would like to thank them for their support.
> Check out what's on offer at Mowgli (we recommend the Office Worker's Tiffin!)
'Tis the season
With all the hype of Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, we're excited to welcome #GivingTuesday! Tuesday 1st December is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving and an opportunity to come together to show the world why it's good to give.
Whether it's making a donation, volunteering your time, or just spreading the word about causes close to your heart. We hope you'll join us on #GivingTuesday and share the hash tag on social media with your friends.
Here are a few things you could do on #GivingTuesday to help homeless people in our city:
> Donate to our Christmas Appeal - help us make Christmas a more enjoyable time for people who visit the Booth Centre
> Buy a gift from our Christmas Wish List - for as little as £2, you can buy a gift for a homeless person which will be delivered directly to the centre
> Book tickets to see our Christmas Pantomime - enjoy a festive outing and support the cast and crew of 'It's Behind You!', not to be missed!
Your support will enable us to help more people like Dave. Read Dave's story.
The Printworks and Hard Rock Cafe Manchester are celebrating their second annual honey harvest this month, which has amassed an incredible 213 jars of Manchester’s finest #LiveFromTheHive honey. Made by the city’s hard-working honey bees, the #LiveFromTheHive honey is available to buy now from Hard Rock Cafe Manchester, at just £10 a jar. Funds raised from the sale of the honey will go towards the work of the Booth Centre and Forever Manchester.
An amazing 320,000 honey bees live on top of The Printworks, in the much-celebrated rooftop eco garden. Launched in 2012, the rooftop garden now hosts four hives and is a hub for nurturing these brilliant little creatures.
This year a fantastic 213 jars have been produced by the honey bees, almost doubling the yield from last year’s harvest. Centre Director of The Printworks, Fred Booth, says: “The second honey harvest is the biggest batch yet and has created a real buzz at The Printworks. We are proud to be raising even more money for two outstanding Manchester charities and we’re sure that the jars of honey will go on to become collectors items yet again - we have already taken pre-orders for 99 of the 213 jars.
“The rooftop garden and its produce has gone from strength to strength and we are sure that its success will continue for many years to come.”
Emma Livingstone, Sales and Marketing Manager, Hard Rock Cafe Manchester adds: “After all the hard work everyone has put into looking after the bees over the past twelve months, we are delighted that the honey harvest has gone so well. We hope that the hives continue to thrive and that we can keep using the honey to help local charities.”
To order your own special jar of Printworks honey please contact Emma Livingstone and Jack Barton at the Hard Rock Cafe Manchester on 0161 831 6700.
Celebrating Arts and Homelessness Worldwide
During April 2015, in collaboration with Streetwise Opera and People's Palace Projects we hosted a group of visitors all the way from Brazil as part of With One Voice, an initiative to celebrate the importance of supporting homeless people through the arts.
Amanda Croome, our CEO, will join a group travelling to Brazil in November, including Pete Churchill from Choir with No Name; Terry O’Leary of Cardboard Citizens; Paula Lonegan of Crisis Skylight; Paul Ryan of Café Art; Beth Knowles, a Labour councillor involved in homelessness, and someone with experience of being homeless in Manchester. They hope to pilot the Homeless People’s Movement in Manchester which could have significant ramifications for homelessness policy in the UK.
Find out more about this exciting project here.
With One Voice 2014-16 is produced by Streetwise Opera in partnership with People’s Palace Projects and is supported by Arts Council England, British Council Brazil (as part of Transform), and the Calouste Gulbenkian UK Foundation.
On Friday 6th November hundreds of people will join The Manchester Sleepout to highlight some of the hardships that homeless people face every single night. Brave participants have accepted the challenge to sleep outside Manchester Cathedral to help raise awareness and funds for the work of the Booth Centre.
The Manchester Sleepout will raise funds to help the Booth Centre to continue to help people move off the streets and make positive changes to rebuild their lives, just like Dave…
‘I lost my job, my relationship broke down and I ended up homeless. I slept rough for 7 months, it was a very dark and scary time in my life. I heard about the Booth Centre through other people on the street and I went along for some help. They helped me get into stable accommodation, and with the support of the centre, I’ve been able to stay in my own flat for 4 years now.
They are always there for me, even though I’m not homeless anymore, they’re still helping me every single day. I volunteer in the kitchen at the centre. It gives me a purpose to my day, a reason to get up, and it’s my way of helping other people like the Booth Centre helped me.
I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to get involved with the Sleepout on 6th November. You can experience first-hand a small part of what people have to go through every night, and by supporting the Booth Centre you’ll be doing something really good for homeless people in our city. Nobody should have to live on the streets.’
Sharman Birtles, The High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, is proud to be amongst the participants for the 2015 Manchester Sleepout. During a recent visit to the Booth Centre, Sharman told us why she wanted to get involved:
‘I’m lucky, I have a home and a warm bed, and a support network around me. This is my small way of helping those in our community who aren’t so lucky and have to sleep out on the streets night after night. I really admire the work of the Booth Centre, so I wanted to do my bit by joining their Sleepout this year.’
The Manchester Sleepout has been kindly supported by staff at local tea room, Propertea at Manchester Cathedral, so participants can look forward to a breakfast treat after their challenge under the stars!
Anyone interested in joining the Sleepout for the Booth Centre can register here or by contacting the centre on 0161 835 2499.