Volunteering in Homelessness

Wednesday 11-10-2017 - 17:30
Vol cover

To tie in with World Homelessness Day (10 October), we held our annual Volunteering in Homelessness event on Wednesday 11 October.

Different organisations from across the city came to The Union to provide insight into the homelessness sector in Manchester, and share the best ways you can involved as a volunteer and make a positive impact on the lives of homeless people.

The Booth Centre, Riverside, Barnabus, and the Salvation Army Housing Association all spoke about the work they do, and the important role students can play in making a difference to people’s lives.


Adam Williams and Neil Comthwaite from Barnabus explained that their organisation had been running for 26 years. They said:

“We want to get people off the streets. It’s about building the trust up and our volunteers saying ‘if you want to get off the street, go over to our office and speak to a case worker.’ We’re always short of volunteers at the Beacon Drop-in Centre – it’s a thriving little centre, quite small, but can have up to 100 people in one morning. We need a minimum of six people to open the basic Beacon, which is just the food and the drinks. We need about ten people to do the full facilities. We’re very flexible, and ideally we need people in to get the Beacon running on a daily basis so we can provide the things we do for as long as possible.”


Lara Datta told us about the Salvation Army Housing Association:

“We’re part of Manchester Adult Education Services Community Learning programme, so we offer courses and activities that will not only help people progress into further education, volunteering, training and employment, but will also increase their confidence, help them meet new people and overall improve their health and wellbeing. Students can contact me directly – we don’t have any specific role descriptions and we’re fairly flexible as to what students want to do, it just depends on the person and what we have available. It’s fairly close to MMU too and it can make a big difference. There is only me and three sessional tutors, so we could really use the help and we want to offer meaningful volunteering opportunities to students.”


Billy Godfrey from The Booth Centre explained:

“Homelessness in Manchester has quadrupled in the last seven years. We have a small staff team and a good core team of volunteers, but with the demand for our services, we do always need more – whether it is just help setting up a session and offering support to the full time staff, or helping with people’s benefit claims, we really depend on volunteers. You can also help with our annual fundraising event, The Manchester Sleepout  – participants can fundraise (we asked them to raise £150) but we are looking for volunteers to help run the event, steward the event, help with registration, provide teas and coffees for participants or put posters up around the cathedral where it’s based.”


If you want to get involved in any of the Volunteering Opportunities listed above or others in your area, you can find out more on our Opportunities Page.


Manchester Homelessness Charter and the Big Change Ambassador Changing programme

The Union and the University are both signatories to the Manchester Homelessness Charter, which is the city’s approach to tackling homelessness. It has been developed by uniting people, organisations and businesses with one shared vision – to end homelessness in Manchester. As part of the commitment to supporting Manchester’s alternative giving campaign, the University have developed a Big Change Ambassador training programme to encourage staff and students to develop fundraising ideas and initiatives in support of Big Change. The training, which was piloted with a small cohort of staff and students in November 2016, will be open to all staff and students who want to get involved from autumn 2017.

Stephen Bloye, Assistant Director of Facilities at Manchester Met, said:

“When the University and the Students’ Union signed up to the Homelessness Charter, there were four pledges that we signed up to — one was to engage with research around the Charter. One was to raise awareness of homelessness in the city for students and staff, one was around the Big Change Agenda, and the fourth one was around supporting and engaging with volunteering activities. You can see that today’s event is really key to that fourth charter pledge in terms of doing that. We signed up together, and the Students’ Union definitely leads on the volunteering element.”


You can find out more about Manchester Met’s involvement in the Homelessness Charter, and more about the Big Change Agenda and Ambassador Scheme online.


Find out more about the Manchester Homelessness Charter here.





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Volunteering, homelessness, big change,

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