Manchester City Council and partners launch a new alternative giving campaign to create a special fund aimed at helping homeless people get off - and stay off - the streets.
Shoppers and people visiting the city centre are now being urged to donate money to the fund if they want to help rough sleepers, rather than give money to people who are begging on the street.
The Big Change fund will enable homeless people to make real changes to their lives, providing homeless people with the practical items they need to build new lives off the streets.
They can use it to buy items such as kettles, toasters, radios, pots and pans and bed linen when furnishing new flats, as well as transport to travel to new accommodation, clothing for work interviews and training to get people into employment. As people who are coming off the streets need money urgently, there won’t be a lengthy application process and funds can be issued quickly by accredited members of homeless organisations. The money will be issued by people from charities who have previously helped them and who they have built up a relationship with.
Helping set up the fund is just one of a range of measures which is being taken to improve services for homeless people by a range of organisations across Manchester. You can find out more about the range of support on offer at www.citycentrevoice.co.uk/homelessness
City centre councillors Kevin Peel, Joan Davies and Beth Knowles released the following joint statement:
"We welcome this scheme, which we first called for over a year ago. Manchester residents are well known for their generosity and it is understandable that people want to support those they see sleeping rough on the streets. The best way to do this is to give money to the charities helping to get them off the streets and into permanent accommodation and employment. We strongly encourage all residents and visitors to donate to the Big Change fund instead of giving money to those on the streets. It is only by providing long term support that we can tackle this problem."
Cllr Paul Andrews, Manchester City Council’s executive member for adult health and wellbeing, said:
"Manchester residents, as well as people who visit the city centre, often want to help people who are less fortunate than themselves, and often think that giving money to rough sleepers is helping them.
"While this is very laudable, sadly if you give money to people who are begging on the street, it only enables them to remain in their situation and does not help them get off and stay off the streets. This fund is about trying to make sure that your small change makes a big change to people’s lives, rather than no change.
"There are a range of complicated issues which lead to people sleeping rough on the streets and simply putting a roof over their heads is often just the first step. Providing people with help and support, as well as with funds which can help them make the first steps towards rebuilding their lives, is much better way of giving them something which will genuinely help them."
Anyone who wants to make a donation can visit BigChangeMCR.co.uk/JustGiving or text REAL01 to 70070 to donate as little as £1 - although people can use the system to donate more if they want.
Charity workers who provide support to rough sleepers say giving money to people who are begging only enables them to continue living on the streets and does not address the complicated range of problems which made them homeless, including mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction.
How you can help us to spread the word:
Twitter: Help make this the last Christmas they'll spend on the street - support the #BigChangeMCR campaign to help the homeless BigChangeMCR.co.uk/JustGiving
Facebook: The small change kindly given at Christmas can be a barrier to homeless people receiving the long-term help they require. I'm supporting The Big Change Campaign to change how people give. Coins dropped in cups can be replaced with real investment in furnishing accommodation, purchasing crockery, pots and pans, travel assistance and more. BigChangeMCR.co.uk/JustGiving
Download and print this poster and put it on your building's message board.