People’s stories and my comments

Margaret Smith, 23, sits near the Travel Lodge. Homeless after a divorce around a year ago, she says she was pushed from the top of Tib Street car park where she was sleeping rough.
She suffered a broken pelvis and was given housing while she recuperated, but is now back on the streets.
Margaret has worked for John Lewis in the past. She sings and plays the piano.
“It’s been so cold my socks have gone hard,” Margaret says.
“There’s a church nearby that was completely full when I tried to get space, they said go to Salford, but I couldn’t afford to travel there.
“I never ever thought I would find myself in this position. All I ever wanted to do was sing.
“If I could have anything for Christmas it would be my family.”

Nicola Ryder, 27, is lying on the street wrapped in a duvet, her eyes and nose barely visible. She says she’s too cold to sit up.
“I’ve been homeless two years on and off,” she says.
“My landlord went bankrupt, I was pregnant so I got a hotel place for a while.
“Now the council says I’m not a priority. It’s so, so cold. Someone robbed my blankets last night.
“It feels like ice, my fingers are frozen, my toes are frozen, I just feel like giving up.”
“I’ll be out here on Christmas Day, I have no family to go to.”

On Market Street, Sam Wright, 54, is wrapped in a sleeping bag – which are like gold dust when they’re the only thing stopping people from catching hypothermia.
“It’s hard, but I get through it by praying to my mother,” he says.
Originally from London, David Jackson, 63, has been homeless around Piccadilly for 21 months.
He said: “It’s very, very cold. I’ve been given a child’s sleeping bag this morning, but apart from that I’ve had no blankets or gloves.
“Most of the time I go to the railway station and sleep in the toilets.
“There should be emergency housing when it’s like this.
“This is the coldest I’ve ever been. This Christmas I’d like a place to stay, not a hostel. I’d be happy then.”

Paul Crook, 45, says he lost his home after spending his rent money drugs. He blames the Universal Credits sytem.
Originally from Runcorn, he added: “I’ve always struggled to find work. I’ve never really achieved anything, so I never really imagined what I’d be in the future.
“I go to the town hall every morning to see if they can offer me anywhere to stay, but they say it’s first come first served and there’s never anything for me.
“I’d love a home.
“When it’s this cold you can’t think, you can’t do anything. Sometimes you can’t even sleep.”

Rough sleeping has risen more than tenfold in Manchester since 2010.
Homeless charities in Greater Manchester are doing their best to help, with a number of drop-ins being held on Christmas Day. Among them is Lifeshare.

Julie Boyle, a support worker at the organisation, says the rules need to change on emergency accommodation.
She told the M.E.N: “I’d like the people who decide on these measurements to spend a night on the streets and see if it’s cold enough.
“The problem this Christmas is the worst I’ve ever seen it in Manchester.”
The answer, Julie argues, lies in landlords opening up vacant properties across the city.
“We’re seeing young people just being left abandoned on the streets,” she added.
“We have to pick up the pieces. In this weather it’s awful knowing they are sleeping out at night and not being able to get them in anywhere because all the hostels are full.”

A Manchester council spokesman said the town hall provides emergency shelter, with a capacity for 80 people, when the temperature drops below zero, but there were exemptions including, for example, when there are severe storms or heavy snowfall.
He said the council’s rough sleeper outreach team ensures people are made aware of the offer, and other temporary shelter is available all-year-round, including 73 beds in supported accommodation. An extra 20-bed shelter for rough sleepers with complex needs is due to open.
Deputy council leader Bernard Priest added: “Homelessness is a challenging issue which we are working day and night to tackle, along with a wide range of voluntary sector organisations and other partners.

A police officer woke me up this morning to check I hadn’t frozen to death!
“He said he thought I might have gone!” Says Wayne, who sits in a doorway near Piccadilly Gardens. “It’s been so cold over the last few nights, I’ve not been able to feel my toes in about 3days now”
“It’s unbearable, I so a lot of walking, but I can’t warm up”
Wayne, 39, who suffers from liver disease has been rough sleeping for 11 months.
But most people walk by without giving him a second’s thought, if he’s lucky, someone might buy him a hot drink, others may toss a few coins in his cup.
This is NOT a unique story. This is happening EVERYDAY right across the city.


2 thoughts on “People’s stories and my comments

    1. Thank you for your comments, and your kind words of encouragement. It is amazing just how small changes can such a big difference to peoples lives and I hope that this current trend can continue. I am certainly more hopeful than ever for the future of the homeless in Manchester.


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