Established in 1984, Salford’s oldest homeless charity Lifeshare, discusses how they have adapted to help the vulnerable people living on the streets during the pandemic.

Lifeshare Virtual Christmas Market Campaign Poster.
Image Credit Lifeshare Twitter.

Since being established Lifeshare has been behind some of Salford’s most progressive steps forward. Starting off as a seven day a week food van style set up, Lifeshare decided that the people they were helping deserved more dignity and set up food service indoors.

For the next thirty years the organisation has pioneered new initiatives and grown to be able to offer support for drug addiction, mental health support, and sexual health awareness in and around Salford and Greater Manchester.

Operations Manager Judith Vickers, who has been at the organisation since the early two-thousands, explains the recent challenges that the organisation faces: “Lifeshare over the past 35 years has been about identifying need in the city and adapting to that need”

Vickers features in the BBC documentary Manctopia: The Billion Pound Property Boom, talking about the gentrification of Salford and Manchester and how big real estate is making it difficult for organisations like Lifeshare.

“Our drop ins having been running since March, and we used to have an open space twice a week where young people came in they could socialise, they could go on Facebook, take part in workshops and lessons, they could meet their friends or chat with the staff, and now non of that has been able to happen. It’s been a really really challenging year for all concerned”

Just one example of Lifeshare adapting to the needs of the city is their campaign to get people to donate their old phones, so people can be more involved online.

Vickers highlights the issue with everything being online: “Every benefit you have to apply for is online, your bank accounts online, your medical documents, everything you look at is an online form, you’re not just being digitally excluded and digitally marginalised, you’re now living in digital poverty. If you can’t have access to the digital world you can’t have access to your benefits”

Abigail Noonan the Social Media and Cooperate Engagements Coordinator for Lifeshare, shared more on the organisations constant need to adapt and how even the little things can be monumental for the organisation:

“JCK Construction firm installed lights outside our building and a new video doorbell, so that way when clients come up they can get a hold of us, and the lights are there so that everyone is kept safe as they do it. That’s so valuable to us but a construction company installing a light isn’t necessarily like oh wow but to us it was like Yes! Oh my God! having this here makes all of us so much safer, it’s really helpful”

Noonan adds: “We had initiatives to help serve probation hours, and various other projects that are hard to deliver under the current circumstances. Some of the kids are trying to get back to school but they can’t access internet, so it means the frontline team have really tried to adapt and change and really figure out how to are get everyone in to the best possible situation.”

Coming up to their thirty third year of serving Christmas dinner to their clients from Salford and all around Greater Manchester, this year proves a challenge.

“Although we’re not physically getting together for Christmas, we still understand that people have relied on Lifeshare for thirty-three years”

Vickers continues, “We cannot do it like we normally do it, I think I’m on plan D at the minute for Christmas and I’m just waiting on approval for the council and the Methodist church to be able to use the space to deliver humanitarian breakfast, if we are allowed to do an extended provision there, it will be a takeaway”

Due to the restrictions of the Corona Virus pandemic, the ever-adapting Lifeshare has gone online with their recent charitable endeavours. Their most recent projects include an Online Christmas Auction on December 18th at 7pm with prizes including Hospitality Tickets for a Manchester United Game in 2021, a Candle Making Class for six people, Two tickets to a gig of your choice at YES Bar, and much more. Lifeshare have also started a Virtual Christmas Markets which includes live Christmas music from local bands and links to local online businesses.

Vickers explains, “We decided to do a virtual Christmas market so we could have something going on in the three weekends coming up to Christmas”

You can support Lifeshare by Donating here or Volunteering here


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