The Booth Centre, a day service that supports people that are homeless in Manchester remains open during the outbreak of COVID – 19 to ensure that people that are homeless can get into accommodation. As other services in the city are having to close, the Booth Centre has worked tirelessly to adapt and remain open, by moving everything to operate from their garden.
The outdoor service is open 9am – 12noon offering hot drinks and a meal to take away and a free texting service to offer daily support remotely and a contact for people in emergencies. The Centre is working with Manchester City Council and other partners to accommodate all people that are currently sleeping rough and up to now, the Booth Centre has supported 78 people to access hotel accommodation in the city.
The Booth Centre team have access to the most up to date and accurate information on COVID – 19 and are sharing that with the community to ensure that everyone has the right guidance and are supported to act on it.
The Centre are also launching a new virtual arts project for people to participate in remotely. This is so people can remain occupied and retain a sense of purpose; something that is vital for mental health and wellbeing, social connection and self-esteem.
The spread of COVID-19 presents a unique set of challenges for people who come to the Booth Centre. Social distancing and self-isolation are difficult for people who live in shared accommodation, are rough sleeping or are reliant on services for food and wellbeing. But these people are also some of those most at risk from the virus, due to underlying health conditions and compromised immune systems.
Amanda Croome CEO of the Booth Centre says “Staff, volunteers and people we support have come together to create this new way of working at the Booth Centre. Whilst adopting social distancing protocol as outlined by government, we’re still able to provide our vital support – something that is so needed in our city right now. With around 40% of people who visit the Booth Centre having no income at all, and 68% that will have slept rough in the last year, it is so important we continue to offer our core services during this incredibly difficult time. We are also working closely with the Council and other partners to ensure that people who are homeless will be able to secure, single room accommodation that allows them to adhere to the government guidance stipulated.”
Because of the need for individuals and businesses to socially distance and isolate, the Booth Centre has already seen a significant decrease in donations and predicted income. With two large fundraising events in danger of being postponed and the donations of food and toiletries at an all-time low, the Booth Centre are urging people to donate money if they can via the Booth Centre website, or consider dropping off food donations at the Centre (Monday – Friday 1pm – 3.30pm only please). The list of much needed items can be found on the website.
The Booth Centre will remain an open door, non-referral service and will continue to welcome everyone who is, has been or is at risk of homelessness. But we can't do that alone, we need your support.
- Ends -
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About the Booth Centre: The Booth Centre in Manchester brings about positive change for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We help them plan for and realise a better future. On average, we provide support for over 200 people a week, of which 21% have no income at all and 68% will have slept rough in the last year.
We offer activities which help people rebuild confidence and learn something new whilst having fun and building social connections. We run arts, employment and skills sessions, provide access to medical, accommodation and benefits advice and offer everyone a healthy, free breakfast and lunch.
We support people to maintain structure and stability in their lives by providing volunteering and employment placements. Once someone has secured a temporary or permanent tenancy or employment, we commit to support them until they have found their feet and can manage their finances independently.
Registered charity no. 106267 www.boothcentre.org.uk
For more press information or opportunities please contact:
Development Manager Miriam@boothcentre.org.uk
0161 835 2499
We understand that everyone’s lives must change to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and that includes us here at the Booth Centre. But, we want to ensure that people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness are supported during this difficult time.
We have been working with people who visit, volunteer and work at the Booth Centre to devise a new service model that enables us to facilitate social distancing but still provide our vital support in a sustainable way. With around 40% of people who visit the Booth Centre having no income it is important we do all we can to continue to offer our core services.
How you can help
If you have items to donate we ask that you deliver them to the centre, dropping them by the front door between 9am-12pm Monday-Friday. We are currently experiencing difficulties in sourcing tinned and non-perishable food, as these aisles are emptying in the supermarkets they are also empty in our store cupboard. Staff will be on hand to support but we are asking that no donors enter the centre at this time. We ask that financial donations are made via our donate page.
New service model from Thursday 19th March
We will be operating an advice and support drop-in from 9-12 noon Monday to Friday from our garden. This will include:
The spread of COVID-19 presents a unique set of challenges for people who come to the Booth Centre. Social distancing and self-isolation are difficult for people who live in shared accommodation, are rough sleeping or are reliant on services for food and wellbeing. But these people are also some of those most at risk from the virus, due to underlying health conditions.
We are also working closely with the Council and other partners to ensure that people who are homeless will be able to secure suitable accommodation, where they can sleep safely, wash and self isolate if needed. We have ceased all referrals into shared accommodation, as we know these living conditions will accelerate the spread of the virus, like they do other infectious diseases. Services across Manchester are working to deliver alternative solutions so everyone can access single room accommodation.
All visits, tours and team volunteering days have been postponed until further notice. We have contacted individuals and businesses affected by this decision but we know it will impact our financial situation at a time when we are already seeing mounting costs. We rely on these opportunities for fundraising and we are increasingly facing a difficult year as another significant source of our income, the Great Manchester Run, is also likely to be postponed.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all of our incredible supporters, we've had so many messages wishing us well and it has been really encouraging for our staff and volunteers that have remained committed to keeping the Centre open for the people we support. In this time of uncertainty we hope you stay well, stay safe and look out for each other.
Thank you to Social Chain for their support producing the 2019 Impact Report.
Here's a snapshot of our work in 2018/19:
It is not always an easy decision to move off the streets into emergency accommodation but for many this is the only option available. People with complex needs may not find the additional support they need making any stay difficult for them and others, sleeping in communal areas can make people feel vulnerable at a time when they need strength or people may find themselves stuck in emergency accommodation for months which can have a detrimental effect on one’s mental and physical health.
On Friday 30th August organisations from across Manchester came together to launch Manchester’s Emergency Accommodation Minimum Standards. The launch marks the outcome of months of significant collaborative efforts of the groups and individuals who collectively form The Manchester Homelessness Partnership. The MHP Emergency Accommodation action group is led by Amanda, Booth Centre CEO, alongside people who visit the centre and have first-hand experience of the types of issue that can be encountered.
The minimum standards and vision for 2022 are to ensure that Manchester has the highest possible standards for emergency accommodation to help people who are rough sleeping to make the choice to move inside. These standards have been drawn up with people who have experience of staying in emergency accommodation and people who provide and commission accommodation and support services. “I’m pleased that so many organisations have pledged their support,” said Gary, Booth Centre volunteer.
This is a significant step towards raising awareness of the challenges people face when trying to find suitable accommodation, and ensuring Manchester leads the way in providing people with the safe, secure and dignified surroundings that everyone deserves.
Read more about the standards and watch a short film here
By Paul - Booth Centre Project Worker
The Edge runs regular drama and singing workshops at the Booth Centre and together we have produced a unique company making high quality theatre. The summer production, That’s the Trouble with the Poor, was set in Manchester 1819.
The idea to create a play based on the theme of Peterloo came from a planning meeting; the group wanted the play to have a message that championed solidarity, our heritage and our uniqueness as a city.
The actors and director Janine Waters organised visits to places such as People’s History Museum and Manchester Central Library to learn more about the Peterloo Massacre and the ideals that people were fighting for. As the group discovered more about their characters we felt immense admiration for these people who had so little but contributed so much. That in the face of such adversity, still believed that the world could be a fairer place. During the research stage a narrative started to form based on the people involved and their lives in the weeks before the massacre. This included people like Elijah Ridings and his dream of St Peter’s library, and the excitement of a group of activists hearing the news that Henry Hunt was coming to address the crowds in the hope of bringing about change.
Using improvisation workshops, creative character building sessions and the history of a few of the people involved, our message became clearer each session as the truth that a handful of people really can change the world became our inspiration. The company is often referred to as a family by the people involved and this is a feeling we all share. Each member of the company takes on their role as an actor but also as an encourager for their fellow actors, to provide support and be each other’s inspiration. I am inspired to push myself and my acting skills each week after seeing the huge amount of talent involved in every production. It’s not too far to say I am in awe of all the actors and it’s my absolute pleasure to be part of this unbelievable company.
This particular play was Mohammed’s first play with the Booth Centre. Mohammed says
‘I had never acted before. I was encouraged to take part in the drama workshops and when I eventually came to my first session I was immediately relaxed because of the connections I had with the group and the encouragement I got from everyone there. I am originally from Morocco but when I was involved in the play I felt British. You don’t need a passport to be part of a country, what you need is connections or feeling part of a family and I am in the drama group it feels like I am with my family. I didn’t know about Peterloo beforehand but I feel I know a lot now about the history of Manchester. At the end of the play when we each read out a name of one of the people that had died at the massacre, I read out the name William Dawson. Having acted in the play and the information I discovered I had the feeling like I had a connection with the people involved. I was proud to be associated with this important topic. Pride is my main feeling toward what we achieved together with this show. It was huge.’
Our next artistic adventure is our exhibition of banners and prints to be displayed at the People's History Museum. The exhibition is called LISTEN UP and is a project of expression, celebration and pride. Each piece is a celebration of individuality and diversity. Protesting stereotypes, prejudice and unsupported ideas. Our work will be on display in the Protest Lab from Friday 30th August to Friday 27th September.
'It’s a truly special place and deserves as much support as possible.'
By Juliet Lawson - Senior Associate at BCL Legal
Celebrating Volunteers Week with the Booth Centre.
"At BCL Legal, we take our CSR seriously. We’re fortunate to work in an industry that while it’s hard work, it’s also profitable, and we want to give something back to the fantastic community in which we live.
Either as an organisation or at team level, we choose a registered charity each year to work alongside and support in a variety of ways, whether that’s by way of regular donations of much-needed items such as food, clothing or equipment; getting involved in organised fundraising events such as The Manchester Sleepout; organising our own fundraising activities or volunteering with the charity.
Over the course of the following year, we’re getting involved in the full range of activities with our chosen charity; not only as a helping hand but to get to know them, gaining an understanding of their mission and vision and what their biggest challenges are.
This year, we’ve chosen to support the Booth Centre in Manchester. There are a number of charities in the Manchester area that support adults with issues around homelessness, but we were drawn to the Booth Centre because of its specific approach, which sets it apart from some of the other support services in the city.
Their mission deviates from the ‘sticking plaster’ approach and aims to bring about positive change in the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the city: empowering them to help themselves with the appropriate support.
Whilst on the face of it, they’re a service offering free breakfasts and lunches and a variety of interesting activities, behind the scenes it’s a hub of activity: working with their service users on an individual basis to make the personal changes needed in order to positively move forward.
They’re a truly dedicated team, and this week (Volunteers Week) the third group of BCL-ers including our CEO, were privileged to spend the morning at the centre: helping out with breakfast and lunch, getting involved with the activities and chatting with, and getting to know, the individuals who visit the centre and the dedicated staff and volunteers who run it.
It was an inspiring and humbling few hours for us. There’s so much important hard work going on, but on the surface, they’ve managed to create a relaxed, welcoming, non-threatening environment, where there are chat and laughter and genuine friendships are made and developed.
It’s a truly special place and deserves as much support as possible. It’s an incredibly important resource for adults in Manchester who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, yet as with so many charities, they constantly struggle to find the funding to keep delivering these vital services and support. If only they could spend the time chasing funding on delivering their services instead – they could make even more of a difference!
We’re looking forward to working with them over the coming year and doing what we can, but if you’re Manchester-based and want to support this incredible organisation, you can find out more details here.
Me, I’m off to stock up on tea bags, coffee, biscuits and baked beans to send across in our next donation box because believe me, they get through A LOT of these every day and every donation helps."
If your company is interested in working in partnership with the Booth Centre, please get in touch with Amy, our Development Manager, and have a chat about the opportunities available to best suit your business and your teams.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0161 835 2499
By Alix - Booth Centre Support Worker
The Booth Centre approach is not something you can easily outline on paper, it’s a way of working that has to be at the core of everything that you do. It’s a central ethos that everything else works from.
82% of people in the UK go online every day , so much of our daily life requires internet access that for many of us a few days without it would seriously affect our ability to work, communicate, and be entertained. This is the case for everyone. Looking for work, applying for jobs and trying to secure accommodation all require access to the internet but as is often the case those most in need are excluded. Digital exclusion can present significant and life altering consequences. For example looking for employment and private rented accommodation without internet access can force people to look in unconventional places which makes them vulnerable to illegal work and unsafe living conditions. Another big factor is Universal Credit, people need to write on their online journal regularly in order to keep receiving benefits. Without it they may be sanctioned which could lead to losing their accommodation. Being able to connect to family and friends, watch a film or listen to music has a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing. Connecting to the outside world helps us feel included and part of a community. And everyone deserves this.
Every month we have an IT Committee where we discuss IT in the centre and across the city. Working together we identified the key digital needs that weren’t being met and have sought to address them. Our amazing peer mentors recognise the difficulties people face and are pivotal in driving forward our digital programme. Over the past year we have been redesigning how we use technology in the centre, this is nearly completed and we can’t wait! We’re introducing tablets to increase the ways people can access the internet and we’ve put in additional computers so that more people can use our Internet Café, Job Club and online training.
The journey that our peer mentors and supported volunteers go on is incredible. Having the ability to help another person out of a difficult time or even just be given trust and responsibility is an effective tool for empowerment. In a recent interview peer mentor Robyn said that ‘co-production comes from the heart’ it’s about understanding and offering empathy not sympathy and that’s how we do things at the Booth Centre.
At the Booth Centre we recognise the importance of offering engaging, fun and meaningful activities for people to help them learn new skills, build their confidence, and make new friends as a crucial way to break the cycle of homelessness. A recent evaluation by a leading arts and mental health charity found that people engaging with the arts reported a 71% decrease in feelings of anxiety and a 73% fall in depression; 76% of participants said their well-being increased and 69% felt more socially included. These findings can be confirmed by spending time with our artists who take such pride in what they create and look forward to the opportunity to achieve.
Our arts programme offers regular, free workshops in areas such as painting, singing, music, drama, creative writing and sewing. We work in partnership with local and national specialists to offer people good quality, fun and challenging workshops and we’d like to introduce you to these amazing partners.
The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre
The Edge is an award winning theatre for participation with a focus on supporting vulnerable individuals to get involved in high-quality theatre and arts to transform lives. In collaboration with the fantastic team at The Edge, we work together to offer weekly drama and music workshops at the Booth Centre, culminating in two public productions each year. The shows produced create opportunities for the wider public, friends and family to see participants achieve, develop and use their skills and talents. The next production will be in the summer, it’s very early days in rehearsals but we have heard it will be based on the Peterloo Massacre!
Stitched Up is a fantastic local organisation encouraging individuality, pride and sustainability through fashion and style. Their mission is delivered through weekly sewing workshops in the Booth Centre that enable people to repair and upcycle garments as well as get involved in impressive exhibition projects. Our sewing and art groups will be working alongside Bryony from Stitched Up for a Peterloo Massacre inspired project funded by the Postcode Community Trust. The project will showcase what participants love about our great city, and things that mean the most to them in their lives. More details on this project will be announced very soon!
For those who have braved our annual Manchester Sleepout or attended our Christmas Carol Service you will be familiar with our next longstanding partner organisation, Streetwise Opera. Streetwise Opera is a performing arts charity for people who are or have been homeless. The Booth Centre is a key delivery partner of Streetwise' creative programme here in Manchester, offering weekly creative workshops at the Centre for anyone to get involved in. Through working in a safe and supportive group and participating in opera, an art form that many perceive as elitist, people's beliefs about their capabilities are fundamentally challenged and changed. The group are currently rehearsing for a performance, as part of Opera Hour at the Royal Northern College of Music, on Tuesday 26th March, find out more and register for tickets here.
arthur+martha is an experimental arts organisation helping people find their creative voice, build confidence, self esteem and self worth, through art and writing. We have collaborated with arthur+martha over a number of years, producing numerous public exhibitions. Past projects include The Homeless Library, Sing Me To Sleep, Armour and Moving Panorama. Last week, at the Booth Centre we launched the first workshop of a new two year project together called A Book of Ours - people experiencing homelessness will work to create a medieval-style illuminated manuscript about their lives. We can't wait to get started!
From Monday 12th November, Manchester Piccadilly Train Station will host Inspirational People, a new photography and art exhibition jointly produced by local homelessness charity the Booth Centre and photographer Matt Priestley.
Inspirational People will be showcased on Piccadilly’s main concourse, featuring portraits of Booth Centre artists and displays of their artwork. The project aims to challenge misconceptions and habitual portrayals of homelessness; Matt captures each person’s individuality, communicating pride in their achievements and hope for the future.
The collaborative project marks the launch of the With One Voice International Arts and Homelessness Festival, a summit aimed at raising awareness of the important role the arts play in supporting those who have experienced homelessness.
Amanda Croome, CEO of the Booth Centre, said: “Whilst Manchester’s homeless situation is urgent and deserves close attention, traditional depictions of the crisis typically perpetuate damaging stereotypes. Inspirational People is a chance for the public to see powerful, authentic representations of those who have experienced such a prevalent issue in the city.
“There is support and hope for people living through homelessness, and the Booth Centre exists to help people get back on track. Inspirational People captures the optimism we see in our visitors every day, who are determined to move forward and build a better life.”
The Booth Centre provides a variety of services for people who are homeless and those at risk of homelessness. The charity aims to bring about positive change by providing advice on finding accommodation, education and training as well as helping to secure long-term employment. The centre also offers free meals and support in tackling health and addiction issues, alongside creative activities to boost confidence and self-esteem.
Inspirational People is sponsored by Savills, Neil Morland, Keolis Amey, Ward Hadaway and One Manchester, a provider of housing and community services. Anton Schultz, Social Investment Manager at One Manchester, commented: “We are incredibly proud to support Inspirational People, a captivating exhibition which truthfully represents the skills, talents and hopes of people who have experienced homelessness and the essential services the Booth Centre provides in Manchester.”
The exhibition begins at 3:00pm on Monday 12th November until Sunday 18th November, when it will move to other venues around the city. To find out more about the exhibition and its accompanying book, visit http://inspirationalpeople.co.uk.