Homeless Project Manchester team

Outrage as council describes unofficial soup kitchens as ‘a bad idea’

  • Manchester City Council's tweet confuses and angers many 
  • Charities and the public make their feelings known about homeless situation
  • Tweet said soup kitchens 'attract unscrupulous people'

A Manchester City Council tweet about unofficial soup kitchens has provoked an intense public reaction. 

The Twitter post was was sent out as part of a thread with the intention of letting the public know about the best and most efficient ways they could help homeless people. 

There was a swift reaction online from charities and members of the public alike.

Damon Spillane, who is a part of Homeless Project Manchester, said of the tweet: “We felt deflated by the comments made by the council as we are only trying to help and do something positive.

“No matter if you are a registered charity or an unofficial soup kitchen it is possible to come across problems in Manchester. To say it is the [unofficial] soup kitchens that are attracting this type of behaviour is ridiculous,” said Damon.

Homeless Project Manchester is a self-funded, unofficial organisation. It collects donated items such as food, clothes, sleeping bags and toiletries and delivers them to people on the street in the city centre. The project works with other organisations in an effort to reach as many people as possible. 

Members have even paid for hostels out of their own pocket in order to put people up for the night in extreme circumstances. 

Homeless Project Manchester donated items to distribute
Donated items ready to be handed out Photo: Damon Spillane

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council said: “The tweet sent out by the council referencing soup kitchens should not be viewed in isolation.It was one of 10 tweets sent out in a thread intended to explain the extensive support available for people who are sleeping rough and the best ways for members of the public to help.

“In many cases people who sleep rough have a range of complex needs. They could have debt problems, have been the victim of abuse, have mental health issues or be addicted to drugs or alcohol. At council or partnership-run services there are specialists trained to tackle these issues and begin the process which will hopefully get a person off the streets for good.”

Information about homelessness in Manchester
Facts and figures of Homelessness in Manchester
All information based on the Manchester Homeless Health Needs Audit 2016

Damon added: “They need to make it easier for people to get emergency accommodation. Last year we had a few people who needed shelter for the night while we had the really bad weather with the snow and cold hitting us.” 

Homeless Project Manchester on the streets in the snow
Homeless Project Manchester helping those in need Photo: Damon Spillane

He said many homeless people he comes across describe how they have to jump through hoops to get temporary accommodation. This often leads  to them giving up and sleeping on the streets.

“Why can’t everyone just work together?” he said.

The council added: “It is testament to the kindness of the people of Manchester there are so many willing to help, but without the links to dedicated support services, those offering hot food and drinks will not be able to address the issues which keep people on the streets. 

“This is not just our view, but that of many of the charities and organisations working to help homeless people in Manchester.”