What a week it’s been, not just for Barnabus, but for the whole of our nation. Last week was all about shock and panic, this week was all about mobilisation when we realised we were moving to lockdown due to the corona virus.

The priority for the whole homeless sector has been the safety and offer of accommodation for people sleeping rough or on sofas, at the airport, in a car. These are people who cannot self isolate, have no way of keeping themselves safe. Despite our best efforts to talk to people about corona virus, we soon found either our friends were very worried about it, or did not care enough to hear what we were saying.

That’s a stark thing to say but it’s important we think about it from the point of view of someone sleeping on the streets. When you have already lost everything, this virus is just another annoying thing to navigate in your life. If you are an addict, it’s way down the list of things to worry about. It was a sobering moment for all of us to see that many people have simply lost hope to change their lives. We went on outreach with GMP one morning this week and whilst many chose to accept offers of accommodation, some refused, worrying about losing the little bit of community they have built and how they would access their prescription methadone or Subitex (heroin substitutes)in pharmacies which would become inaccessible for them under lockdown.

On a partnership level, there have been so many positives this week I couldn’t even begin to list them all. The way the Manchester Homeless Partnership has swung into action in the space of a week, getting accommodation in place, finding staff and resources, setting up food supply, preparation and delivery, sharing staff, resources and knowledge, has been truly inspiring. The workload is absolutely enormous. How we are working now is what we always envisaged and it’s how I pray we will continue to work when this is over.

Barnabus has always been a food provider so it makes sense that we would focus on food. Along with our partner Rev Ellie Trimble at Church of the Apostle, Miles Platting, the team has been preparing food since Wednesday for the first accommodation. Our van driver Alan has been driving all over Manchester delivering food to other accommodation projects, to our resettlement clients and helping as many organisations as we can. The team has done everything it can to continue to support not only our efforts, but the efforts of the council, charities, GMP, NHS and many many more partners without whom we could not make this happen. https://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/200117/homeless_people

We’ve also seen some incredible generosity, notably from Bradley Demolition, spudulike providing hot baked potatoes to us and to Mustard Tree, and so many wonderful people just stepping out in faith and asking how they can help. Thank you all so much, it was so heartening to know you are standing with us.

The partnership needs your help to continue supporting people during this difficult time. Streetsupport.net has all the details of how to help through donations or volunteering, please visit their app or website for more information.

Praying for you all to be safe and well,