Salford worker Gary Shaw has taken it upon himself to make a positive difference for the homeless communities of Greater Manchester this festive period – with money he has saved by giving up drinking.
The surface decontamination officer has teamed up with Salford-based Utilities Design and Planning Ltd (UDP) to deliver essential goods across Greater Manchester.
The 35-year-old produced 30 survival kits, largely self funded. The packs will be distributed throughout Manchester, Salford and his hometown Warrington.
Mr Shaw said: “Usually, when I’d go out on the lash on the weekends, I’d take 10 or 15 quid with me and if I’d see someone that was homeless, I’d just drop it off.
“This year I haven’t been out. I’ve knocked drinking on the head. So, with what money I thought I’d saved, about 180 quid. I just said, I’ll put it towards the homeless survival packs.”
Gary Shaw’s survival packs:
The packs were made up of a multivitamin shot, a bottle of water, a chapstick, chewing gum, hats, gloves, scarves, an energy gel pack, two flapjacks and a pack of 100 baby wipes.
Twenty-two of his survival packs were given to Barnabus, a local homeless charity, and were distributed within Salford and Manchester as well as eight packs going back to his hometown of Warrington.
Each year he does what he can to help homeless people across Greater Manchester and in doing so, he has inspired others to get involved.
Each winter Gary Shaw of UDP puts together welfare bags with hats, gloves, wipes, protein bars, sweets, and distributes to the Manchester & Salford homeless, good work fella’! @MayorofGM @paul4citymayor @MENnewsdesk pic.twitter.com/mzJQ54EP6Q
— UDP LTD (@UdpLtd) December 6, 2018
He said: “They’ll do it every year now (UDP). It was a fortunate twist of fate, I didn’t know they were thinking about doing it but obviously they hadn’t found anyone to do it. But I already was.
“Hopefully next year, it’ll be something that’s done just through them.”
An epidemic in Salford
The number of rough sleepers in Salford has risen by more than 600 per cent in the past five years.
Mr Shaw believes that if everyone played their part, we could eradicate homelessness completely.
He said: “Nobody should be homeless. It just shouldn’t happen. It’s just wrong.
“Everyone just needs to do their bit. If we all did… you know what I mean.”
The number of rough sleepers has also risen despite Salford Council recently being granted £308,000 to address the issue.
With the introduction of Universal Credit, some Salford households are losing as much as £200 a month. As a result homelessness is a real risk for many residents.
Mr Shaw said: “It opens your eyes when you see these people. You think ‘it probably didn’t take much for him to be sat there’.”
How to get involved:
To contribute to his efforts to solve homelessness, goods can be donated to Barnabus Manchester. The charity is looking for a range of goods, such as clothes, items for the shop and recyclable items.