Manchester Cathedral was the fitting backdrop on the evening of Friday 7th November as hundreds of people joined the Booth Centre’s Manchester Sleepout. Now in its fourth year, the Manchester Sleepout helps to raise awareness of the hardships faced by homeless people every single night. Over 200 brave participants took on the challenge of sleeping outside the Cathedral in freezing temperatures for one night only; helping to raise vital funds for the Booth Centre.
The Booth Centre offers activities, advice and support for the growing number of homeless people in Manchester. Over 170 people visit the centre each week, most are facing numerous challenges on top of their housing issues such as alcohol or drug addiction or severe mental and physical health problems.
People taking part in the Sleepout heard just how their support was helping to change lives, as two people from the centre who have previously slept rough in the city described their harrowing experiences. One courageously spoke about what it was like to be homeless:
‘Being homeless means you’re rejected by society, you are worthless and it feels like there is no hope. Thanks to the Booth Centre I have been given a future. They helped me find work and encouraged me to take part in their drama workshops. I have my confidence back and I can stand up here and talk with pride about my life, I no longer feel worthless.’
Before bedding down for the night outside the Cathedral, guests were treated to a special performance from the centre’s Streetwise Opera group. The Booth Centre offers weekly opera workshops which help to improve self-esteem and confidence and provide a fun activity for people going through a particularly difficult time in their lives.
The Manchester Sleepout was generously supported this year by Work Solutions Family Support Programme. Lorna Wilson, Service Manager, took part in the event with her team and spoke of their motivations:
‘We were extremely proud to support The Manchester Sleepout for the Booth Centre as we understand the significant challenges faced by homeless people in our community. One of our aims as an organisation is to help people to tackle the barriers to accessing employment and training opportunities in order to build a more positive future. Like the Booth Centre, we empower people to overcome the issues that may lead to unemployment or homelessness and so felt this event was a great opportunity to do even more.’
Despite the opportunity to sleep inside the Cathedral, the majority of the 200 participants lasted the whole night out in the cold in a show of solidarity towards Manchester’s homeless. It is hoped the event will raise over £40,000 for the Booth Centre to help them to continue to offer support, advice and activities for some of the most vulnerable in society.
You can show your support for The Manchester Sleepout by donating at: www.localgiving.com/boothcentre
Photo by Andreas Andrews www.AndreasAndrews.com