Charities step in to help rough sleepers survive brutal weather as beast from the east hits

  • As the number of rough sleepers in the city increase, charities are pushed to their limits in brutal weather conditions 

As the city is hit by the ‘Beast from the East’, schools are closed, trains delayed, and commuters struggle through the plummeting temperatures. But Manchester’s rough sleepers face even harsher conditions.

Making sure they survive through the bitterly cold nights, organisations such as Coffee4Craig offer a lifeline to the city’s homeless.

Hosting up to 150 homeless people per day, Coffee4Craig is a seven day-a-week drop-in centre run by an expanding group of volunteers who feed and offer advice to rough sleepers.

Risha Lancaster set up the charity following the death of her brother in 2013.

She said: “My brother was on the street for about four years due to a relationship break down and mental health issues. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I didn’t know he was homeless because he was such a proud man. Then he died of a heroin overdose in a car park, so we started Coffee4Craig about three days later.”

Usually, people are referred in by the council on a first-come, first-served basis but as soon as temperatures hit zeros, emergency provisions kick in and teams from Coffee4Craig hit the streets to make sure that every rough sleeper receives a hot meal and a bed for the night, regardless of when they turn up.

Nathalie Delahaye, director of Roar Pursuits, a charity focussing on the root causes of homelessness says that the weather does not change the hardships soup kitchens and homeless shelters face. She said: “In this weather a roof over your head, can literally mean the difference between life and death but I wouldn’t say that the cold changes what happens at shelters or soup kitchens, there’s a daily struggle all year round.”

Coun Bernard Priest, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “There is support available for people all year round to help them off the streets and it’s especially important that people are aware of the additional shelter available in these severe weather conditions.

“We would urge people to follow this advice to get out of the cold and into the warm shelters provided by the council and its partners.”

When the weather hits freezing no one is turned away, so if you see someone in a doorway, or who clearly is rough sleeping please direct them to http://streetsupport.net/manchester/severe-weather-accommodation/ where all the information can be accessed or call  234 5339