IT MAY be the season to be jolly but it’s also undeniably the season of cold feet - and we’re not just talking about the TV series. As Jack Frost tightens his grip, and the winter chill deepens, even Uggs have returned with a vengeance. But, boots or no, there’s nothing quite like donning a cosy pair of slippers - which is why Shelter is asking businesses to do just that this Friday, in return for a small donation. Communities are also encouraged to take part in other activities on the day, from bake sales to raffles and even office slipper catwalks.
Only recently, two rough sleepers were killed in a Chinatown fire
Whilst the #slippersforshelter initiative itself might be light-hearted, it’s timely in more ways than one - as Shelter estimates there are over 1,400 children without permanent accommodation in Greater Manchester this festive season; up an astonishing 71% from last year.
The housing and homeless charity, which turns 50 this month, first opened its Manchester service over 25 years ago and has been helping those in accommodation crises ever since. In the past year alone, the service has offered advice, support and guidance to more than 8,100 local residents. But, as the region’s Shelter hub manager John Ryan commented: “Even after 25 years working in Manchester, too many families still need our help.”
TV presenter Alex Jones, who is taking part in the slipper scheme, said: “Every child deserves a place to call home. A home that’s warm, safe and stable, where they can learn and play, grow and thrive. But sadly this Christmas, over 120,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless. No parent ever wants to go through the heartbreak of seeing their child spending Christmas in a cramped and dingy hostel.
“Together we can make a difference. Step into Christmas with Slippers for Shelter by going to work, school, or even down to the shops in your slippers on Friday 9 December and donating £3 to Shelter. Your feet will be toasty, but most importantly you’ll be helping Shelter to be there for the thousands of homelessness families who’ll need them this Christmas.”
Spreading Christmas cheer at Coffee4Craig
It’s not all bleak. News of late has been brimming with local charities and businesses doing their bit to help: from Emmaus Salford helping homeless saxophonist Martins Eniks onto a music production course, to Go Nutrition delivering 100 meals to Mustard Tree and Together Property Management donating a considerable financial sum to Coffee4Craig - the money from which will be used towards paying deposits for people to enter homes, purchasing necessities such as toiletries and general running costs at the organisation, which also partners ‘Not Just Soup Kitchen’.
“The donation from Together Property Management is amazing and is already being used towards paying people’s deposits and placing them in homes," said Coffee4Craig founder Risha Lancaster.
Elsewhere, New Bailey will auction off its giant polar bear to Loaves and Fishes next year, Rogue artist Hilary Jack is promoting the Manchester Homelessness Charter with her Spinningfields artwork Host, and the Old Nag’s Head will be open on Christmas Day to distribute food, drink and clothes. Wood Street Mission, meanwhile, has launched its Christmas Community Shop and The Booth Centre continues to raise phenomenal sums with its popular November Sleepout.
But, despite such efforts, the story is unfortunately far from a fairytale ending. Only recently, two rough sleepers were killed in a Chinatown fire, while Shelter revealed that the number of homeless across the North West has risen to around 6,300.
To mark the charity’s founding 50 years ago - and the ‘Green Book’ report that launched it - Shelter has also conducted a study into the region’s top twenty ‘homelessness hotspots’, where people are most likely to lose the battle to stay in their homes.
Unsurprisingly, Manchester topped the list, with one in 266 people living without a home. This was followed by Salford (1 in 765), Trafford (1 in 1156) and Rochdale (1 in 1369).
Shelter Manchester Hub manager, John Ryan, said: “Shelter’s founding shone a light on hidden homelessness in the sixties slums. But while those troubled times have faded into memory, 50 years on a modern day housing crisis is tightening its grip on our country.
“Thousands of people in the North West will face the trauma of waking up homeless this Christmas. Decades in the making, this is the tragic result of a nation struggling under the weight of sky-high rents, a lack of affordable homes, and cuts to welfare support.
“We all face the consequences when so many grow up without a place to call home. It breaks up communities and wreaks havoc on family life. For the sake of future generations we must pull together to end this crisis, and refuse to rest until every child has a place to call home.”
All the more reason to support homeless charities this Christmas - even if that is just with your choice of footwear.
shelter.org.uk/slippers takes place on Friday 9 December