A Different Day
Yesterday I spent my working day very differently…
At Shaping Cloud we are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to take two days out of the office a year and give our time to charity. I wanted to do something totally different – and if I’m honest, also completely outside of my comfort zone. Every day when I walk from Piccadilly Station to Shaping Cloud HQ I am asked if I can spare any change or am tripping over sleeping bags and cardboard boxes that some people call a bed. I don’t want to give money – I know where that ends up. So I tend to do what most people do and hurry past without speaking, I’m never sure what to say but I did want to do something to help the homeless, particularly at this time of year.
So yesterday four of us from Shaping Cloud spent the day with Barnabus Manchester at their Beacon Drop-In Centre which is in their words ‘bringing hope to the homeless and vunerable’. We sorted donations (no surprises that our developers spent the day in the basement!), handed out clothes and toiletries and helped prepare food and drinks in the kitchen:
The Beacon is a welcoming place where the homeless can go for food, warm drinks, a shower, new clothes, see a nurse, play games or just sit in the warm with some company. Most of the other volunteers had been in vulnerable situations before and now through the other side want to give something back, like Chris who organised the Christmas bingo in the afternoon.
The thing that struck me the most about the day was that aside from the warm drinks, food and a change of clothes, what people most enjoyed was friendly faces and a bit of banter – not so different from the rest of us. Graham stood out to me, he was in and out all day wearing his Turkey shaped flashing Christmas hat, telling jokes and drinking plenty of tea w’two. By the end of the day Graham who sleeps in a tent somewhere in the city centre came in with the fantastic news that he had managed to get accommodation for the night and that’s ultimately the aim of places like this – to help get people off the streets.
I have to say the experience was incredibly humbling and when I got home yesterday evening I felt a real mixture of guilt and relief for my warm comfortable house and loving family. I am thankful to Shaping Cloud for giving me the impetus to do something different and now I won’t always hurry past these people in the street – I’ll stop and give them a smile and ask how it’s going.
This year Barnabus has reached a landmark 25 years Anniversary of providing life-changing support to the homeless in Manchester. They started with just one man walking the streets, giving out food and drink – and now offer a lifeline to 600 visiting homeless and vulnerable people each week, many of whom have severe addictions or mental health issues. They have received the ‘unsung heroes’ Queens award for Voluntary Service, but do not receive any government funding, we rely entirely on donations. If you’d like to get involved visit their website to find out how.