It doesn't happen often anymore, thank goodness, but a couple of weeks ago, someone we knew died on the streets in Manchester.

We won't say who this person was; it's undignified and an invasion of that person's little bit of privacy. But they were well known to other services and looking back over their life, we can see that they were let down time and time again by people and services they came into contact with.

It's easy to blame people who are sleeping rough for their problems. To many of us their problems look like their fault. Drugs, alcohol, mental health diagnoses (or none), learning disabilities, not finishing education or not even being able to be in school, not knowing how to love or be loved. People are described as 'difficult' when in fact they are just in survival mode.

All too often those problems start way before the person is an adult and able to make decisions for themselves. For many who have been exploited or exposed to harm, their ability to recognise risk or harm reduces so that they seem to actively put themselves in harm's way. 

This person's death shook us as a team. We care deeply about the people we help and to know that a death could have been averted is a difficult thing to come to terms with. Staff and volunteers need time to grieve and to process what happened. We need a way to deal with our emotions and to support one another. To be able to recognise that this person was a lovely, funny person, very generous, unsure of why people liked them and why what happened to them had happened at all.

This person trusted one of our Barnabus frontline workers enough to go into accommodation and when it went wrong, they came straight back because they knew we wouldn't judge them and that we would continue to support them in the way that was best for them.

That's why we do what we do, every day. Every person has the right to live, to be recognised for who they are, to be loved and to have someone to love in return. We don't want the people we help to just be a number on a report. We want them to recognise that they have the same rights as the rest of us and that they deserve good things in their lives.

We want to thank Rev Ellie Trimble of St Cuthbert's Church, Miles Platting, for a beautiful memorial service and for letting us remember this person in a positive way, sharing stories, tears, laughs and sadness. We're praying that the work we and the rest of Manchester is doing in partnership means that we won't have to go through this again.