We have adapted our operations to help people experiencing homelessness through the Coronavirus crisis and lockdown. Nothing we do day to day hasn’t been affected by Coronavirus; we are still helping rough sleepers with food and basic necessities, we are still supporting people experiencing homelessness in temporary accommodation and we are still offering one to one support to people to try to help them through their problems (such as addiction, loneliness and mental health conditions).

Last week we cooked 1756 meals feeding rough sleepers who have been temporarily housed in hotels and B&B’s across the city, as well as those in our community who are vulnerable and unable to leave their homes. We are part of the city council’s food framework for the COVID-19 crisis. We are also facilitating a food bank to supply food parcels to vulnerable people who can cook but cannot get to the shops due to social shielding, self isolation or lack of funds. This program is run in conjunction with Rev Ellie Trimble, Reachout to the Community and Greater Together Manchester. It is so important that we are able to feed our friends in accommodation, as food is often not provided where they are housed. Our work ensures that they are fed, healthy and do not feel forgotten.

In the City Centre we are supplying 80 hot meals and packaged meals each day to those who are still rough sleeping. We have formed a partnership with Feed My City, Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Police, Coffee4Craig and Lifeshare. We are also working with the council’s Rough Sleeper team to try and engage people still rough sleeping to encourage them to get off the streets, so they are less vulnerable to Coronavirus. The rough sleepers are so vulnerable at the moment as they do not have access to the normal services with most drop in centres closed due to social distancing and lockdown. This means that they will have limited or no access to washing and cleaning facilities, fresh clothes, medical care and the emotional support provided by drop in centre teams like our own.

Our support team know the importance of staying in touch with our friends and are making contact through phone conversations, ensuring that they are healthy, encouraged, stable and know what help is available to them. The support team has even been able to continue to house people despite all the extra hurdles put in their way. Additionally our team are also busy processing referrals to Manchester City Councils emergency food response for people who are struggling at the moment.

Our resettlement programme continues; although we are unable to house people at the moment, we are still supporting our friends whom we have housed in private tenancies. We are also supporting our landlords at this difficult time.

Everything we thought we knew about homelessness has been turned on its head. We will continue to support people experiencing homelessness in our city in whatever way we can. We have been overwhelmed by the support from our volunteers, corporate donors, churches, charitable trusts, health and education services and private individuals. A heartfelt thank you from the whole team for allowing us to continue our life changing work.