We had mixed thoughts about reaching our 30th year, happy on the one hand that Barnabus continues to support people to make positive decisions for themselves and to find a life away from the streets. On the other hand we’d love to close the doors, knowing that homelessness is a thing of the past and we aren’t needed anymore.

Barnabus has always been a team effort. Our founders Peter and Beryl Green were supported by churches and people who believed in their vision. Over the 30 years that has grown to include the Manchester Homeless Partnership and the business community, universities, schools and other voluntary groups.

From our earliest days, people gave Peter and Beryl the money to run the soup runs, making sandwiches and paying for petrol. Maranatha Church gifted Barnabus its bus and its name. In the late 1990s many people, churches and companies generously funded our Beacon Drop-In Centre (now our Support Centre).

Today our supporters fund everything from cups of coffee with 5 sugars in the Support Centre whilst someone has an assessment, through to moving in packs for tenants on our Resettlement Programme and keeping our van on the road.

Our amazing supporters touched thousands of lives and we couldn’t have built on those early years without you being part of the team.

Literally thousands of volunteers have given their time, their skills and their enthusiasm to help people with everything from a change of clothes to writing CVs and applying for benefits.  You changed lives and what for you might have been a short episode in your life, might have been a significant turning point for the people you talked to.

Everyone who has given us their skills and knowledge free of charge: your pro bono work meant that we could spend the money given to us on the things people needed most: hotels, rent and deposits, bus and cab fares. People have done everything from handywork in the centre right through to building bespoke databases for us; all of these gifts increased our ability to do more for the people who needed our support.

I look back over the relatively short time I have been privileged to lead Barnabus and I am in awe of what Peter and Beryl achieved in 25 years. They went from knowing nothing to being innovators and highly influential in every area of their work. They went from operating out of the back of Peter’s work van to developing support work in the Drop-In Centre, Support Office, Allotment and Renu Furniture Upcycling Project. They went from just one church supporting them to a movement of Manchester churches all wanting to do one thing: to alleviate the misery and poverty of people experiencing homelessness through being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Those were seriously intimidating boots to fill.

In the past 5 years I have watched our team build on Peter and Beryl’s work and constantly evolve to meet the need of the people they support. Our Bond Guarantee and Tenancy Support Scheme evolved into our Resettlement Programme which is going from strength to strength. We gifted our furniture upcycling project to Emmaus South Manchester when it became clear it was no longer right for the people we supported at that time. We focus on our core strengths and on what we know our guests want.

There are literally thousands of lives which have changed through the past thirty years. Sometimes we are lucky enough to get a letter from someone we supported a long time ago. Sometimes they come in to see us. But mostly we pray and hope that we’ll never need to hear from them again because they have rebuilt their lives and are happy with their choices.

Sadly we have lost so many along the way too. The deaths of those who are homeless were often not investigated or counted. Thanks to the work of the Manchester Evening News in investigating those deaths, and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in corroborating and collating national data, in 2018 the government agreed to collect those data and investigate those deaths. This felt like a huge victory after the many years of Peter and Beryl mourning people they had come to know and love.

As we reflect on the past thirty years I know that we will always thrive as long as we are true to Peter and Beryl’s ethos: to put the will of God first and to trust in him for his provision and timing. As a Christian charity, our job is simple: to accept people for who they are and to love them unconditionally. That can be as simple as a cup of tea and a chat, right through to long term support for those who struggle to remain housed, and even our first baptism in the Beacon this year!

I would have loved to be the person to close the doors at Barnabus because we are no longer needed. Sadly I don’t think that’s going to happen but I do give thanks for those thirty years and hope that we can continue to work towards ending homelessness for good in the next chapter.

We want to mark our 30th Anniversary by opening up a digital memory board to collect and celebrate your memories of Barnabus. Perhaps Peter and Beryl supported you back in the 90's, or you helped volunteer or support our work, whatever your story, we’d love to hear it.

You can add your message to our memory board here, or alternatively you can send your memory to [email protected] and we’ll add it for you.