THE University of Salford teamed up with The Booth Centre to provide lunch for the homeless after Manchester was named the rough sleeper capital of the North West.
Homeless charity, The Booth Centre, held the lunch for the homeless yesterday in the University of Salford’s Allerton building.
Rough sleepers and those living in council provided accommodation were treated to a three-course meal, silver service dining and a gift-wrapped present.
The food was prepared by on-site caterers at Salfood and was the only Christmas dinner that some guests will be eating this year.
The annual lunch is organised at a similar time each year and gives those who have accessed the charity a chance to share a homely meal with others.
Sister Teresa, from the University of Salford, who was there welcoming the guests, said: “It is important for such events to take place as a reminder that there are still homeless people who have fallen on hard times and to give opportunity to meet them as individual people rather than impersonal statistics.
“The dining room, the food provided and the service were the same high quality as other Christmas lunches on campus, showing respect and friendship to those who participated.
“In comparison with their difficult circumstances, this is only a small gesture at a special time of year. The Booth Centre and other charities continue to serve those in need throughout the year.”
University students also joined the lunch to help make the atmosphere more welcoming and sociable.
One of them Nanayaa Mireku, said:”It was definitely something I’d like to do again. To be honest, I think it’s something everyone should do at least once.
“It’s very easy for people to judge and make assumptions about homeless people, but once you actually sit down to have a conversation with them, you realise how intelligent and genuine most of them are.
“The fact that the lady that I was sat with actually decided to give me a Christmas present just shows how selfless people can be, she hasn’t got a lot but she still wanted to give me something just because I listened to her. It was very eye opening to say the least.”
According to an annual count by the council, there are approximately 80 rough sleepers in Manchester city centre. The count is produced by searching every street of Manchester and the highly-populated homeless destinations.
Homeless applications in Manchester are believed to have risen since 2015 from 488 to 607 with only 258 of those applications being accepted.
Homelessness has increased for various reasons and no rough sleeper’s reason will be the same. Many homeless charities and experts agree that some of the reasons include movement and migration in search of work, fewer facilities are available to provide help or advice, break up of families, austerity measures trying to encourage people to seek work, rising prices making it difficult to pay rent and cover the cost of living, mental health issues and limited facilities to help those suffering and limited supplies of social housing.
A private member’s bill went through parliament on October 28 this year, on reduction of homelessness. It specified better provision to be made for those who are homeless or in danger of being made homeless., however, it is yet to receive funding.
It was interesting to listen and learn about the backgrounds of those sitting around the table at yesterday’s organised lunch and hear how they got to where they are today – from growing up in care, having tough relationships with family and suffering from illnesses which prevent them being able to work.
For more information on The Booth Centre, visit: http://www.boothcentre.org.uk/