On Sunday 4, October, Sara Waters ran the Virtual London Marathon 2020, for Greater Manchester charity, Embassy Bus.
Embassy Bus charity provides emergency shelter and support for people who find themselves homeless in Salford and Manchester.
Sara, a nurse and health visitor in Manchester, applied for the Manchester marathon which has been postponed until October 2021.
When the London marathon went virtual Sara decided to get involved because she had already raised money for Embassy bus.
She said: “I raised about £1,715 all together which is amazing because my target was £1000 and then I beat that.”
Sara became involved in the homeless charity Embassy after talking to its founder, Sid.
She told us that in her role as a nurse, “you see the negative impact that homelessness has on people”.
Sara was inspired to help the homeless after meeting Sid when he came to talk to her church.
“I started volunteering for them a year ago and shortly after I decided this was something I would like to raise money for by doing the marathon.”
Sara and friends completed the marathon in 5 hours, she said: “Being fast wasn’t the aim it was to complete the distance, raise some money and enjoy ourselves.”
The Covid-19 pandemic forced all shelters to close, including the Embassy Bus, due to social distancing not being possible and the government sent homeless people to hotels.
How Embassy Bus can help
Salford alone has 1,088 homeless people, and Greater Manchester has over 5,500.
Embassy Bus was founded in 2019, when co-founders Tess and Sid Williams bought Coldplay’s old tour bus.
The charity used the tour bus to house and support homeless adults around Salford and Manchester.
Sid said: “Financially we have lost a lot due to fundraising events taking a hit, so whatever people can do and give we are grateful.
“What poverty does is make people feel like their worthless. No one has to say this to them but the experience of it makes them feel a burden.
“So, a lot of the guys love the bus as it allows them to feel like a VIP.
“The first ever guy we had on it burst into tears because he felt so valued.”
The charity offer follow-up visits for six months to anyone who has been re-housed, to ensure they stay on track.
Sid added: “50% of people who are housed choose to go back on the streets due to loneliness once they’re housed.
“We are pleased to say none of our guys have done that.
“We have also found that 9 companies in Salford, Manchester and Stockport were willing to offer our guys full-time work. From 39 people, we have moved almost everyone onto private landlord homes due to get them full-time jobs.”
Sid added: “When the government money for hotels runs out, and the ban on eviction ends in the spring, we are going to see a lot more people on the streets.
“Even during lockdown, despite the ban on eviction, people are finding their way to the streets somehow.
We are so unbelievably proud of and grateful for the legend Sara 🏆 who completed the Virtual London Marathon 2020 #the40thrace yesterday to raise over £1,500 for #EmbassyBus 🏃🏻♀️ …you came 1st is our eyes 🥇🥰 #homelessness #Manchester #Salford pic.twitter.com/qOlyijTBeO
— EmbassyBus (@embassybus) October 5, 2020
“There will definitely be quite a big spike in homelessness.”
The Embassy Bus has reinvented what they do because of the closing of UK shelters.
Tess, co-founder of Embassy bus, said: “We have had to adapt to the situation from emergency shelter to housing providers within a few days.
“We managed to house a lot of our guests beforehand and, luckily, no one had to sleep on the streets.
“When we moved them from the bus shelter to housing, we realised how awful they were at budgeting.
“On the one hand, we were helping them out and getting them set up for work, but we couldn’t teach them to shop, cook or budget.
“Now, we have created a two-week meal plan and shopping list to help them with budgeting.”
Shelters are not allowed to open so we’ve made a leap to managing houses! 2 so far and 2 coming soon. MUCH bigger news coming too so keep tuned! It costs more so a leap of faith. Thanks to everyone who continues to support us. We couldn’t do it without you! pic.twitter.com/cWamr6G7PK
— EmbassyBus (@embassybus) August 22, 2020
Later this year, Sid and Tess are partnering with companies and have been given the use of a plot of land.
Sid said: “We don’t have planning permission yet, but it is big enough to build 40 houses on and a community centre.
“We don’t have the money for it yet, the aim wasn’t to do this but now we are looking to fundraise for this as well.
“To give 40 people a front door is the aim and we are really excited.”
If you would like to sponsor Sara visit: https://www.give.net/sarawaters
To donate to the Embassy Bus, please visit: https://www.give.net/embassy