Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A Trip To Shelter

Good morning everyone. Today is a rest day ahead of possibly another long training run tomorrow. In truth, I haven’t decided what to do yet, but thinking of repeating Saturday’s epic to try and get that time down. As you will know, the reason I am doing all this is that in March, I decided to do The Great North Run, partly as a challenge for myself, but most importantly to try to make a difference. One of the questions I am often asked is, ‘Why Shelter?’ when there are so many worthy causes out there. I suppose to answer that question, I go back to my teenage years, when the town in which I grew up had one man who slept rough. He used to sleep on the market until having to move on. Eventually, the local church approached him, as he was sleeping in the churchyard and asked him to become the hall caretaker. In return, they gave him the opportunity to sleep in there as he had keys and also paid him enough money to get by, as I recall. I worked in the pub near the church and occasionally he would come in at 8pm, buy a half of bitter (60p) and nurse it through until closing time. I have often wondered how his story ended...So my link with the homeless goes back to the very early 1990s. I always bought The Big Issue in Preston or Manchester and in recent years, whenever we go to a big town or city, am dismayed at how many people there are without a roof over their heads. We try to help, with hot drinks, sandwiches etc, but it’s not enough. Nobody should have to live outdoors, should they?

Today, I was invited by Max Newton (head of Community Fundraising) to a virtual hub event, to come and learn more about the work of Shelter and how public donations can have a direct impact. The speakers were:

John Ryan - Hub Manager Manchester
David MacIver - Hub Manager Glasgow
Ruth Francis - Service Manager, Inspiring Change Manchester.

Each talked for ten minutes about the aspects of their work and how it is made possible by the generosity of people like us. They are building their work around a core belief that access to a safe home is a fundamental human right. There is so much more to the work of Shelter than simply helping homeless people to find homes, they also provide a huge range of services including:

  • Legal advice and support
  • Working with individuals, communities
  • Supporting mental health
  • Providing basic skills tutoring
  • Involvement in policy direction
  • Helping people to access benefits 
  • Campaigns
There is so much more that I could tell you, but instead I will share a link so you can see for yourselves. The Inspiring Change Manchester project is close to home for me, please do have a look at their website and see what practical support they give.

Ruth Francis spoke at length about the services and this is really inspiring; peer mentoring, mental health support, basic skills, art sessions, tea and biscuits to name a few. It was great to hear that during lockdown, people were still being supported through (as an example) being given phones to enable virtual contact. This is amazing and shows that money donated is really making a difference. Much of the work is around prevention and intervention to support people in overcoming barriers. Please consider lending your support to this amazing charity.

Thanks for reading to the end! If you are in a position to do so, please consider clicking the link below and making a donation. All this really matters, and once the COVID19 situation is over, many more people will be needing support as are likely to lose employment and income. As you may know, many homeless people at currently being housed in large hotels. They can not simply be forced back onto the streets at the end of this.

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