A homeless outreach project working with rough sleepers in Manchester is in search of a new base following its Christmas Eve eviction from former headquarters.
Coffee 4 Craig was established in 2012 by Risha Lancaster and her wife Fie, following the death of Risha’s brother, who lived on the streets of Cardiff and suffered from mental health problems.
The service provides signposting, warm food, clothing and support, for some of the most vulnerable people in the North West, from a site outside Manchester Cathedral. A sister scheme offers similar provisions in the Welsh capital.
Plans to expand
The organisation was based in Lancaster House, Salford, a privately-run hostel, where it maintained an office, food and clothing banks, and a dry store for kitchen equipment. Differences in direction have been cited as the reason the project, which is awaiting the results of an application for charitable status, must move on. An administrative space has been found in Brotherton House, Salford, but there is a need to find a suitable storage facility, with further plans to expand the operation and become a new out-of-hours service for those in need.
“What we want, ideally, is a building close to Manchester city centre that we can utilise as a seven-day-a-week out-of-hours provision, offering hot meals, advice, a place for people to access medics, podiatry – whatever is required to help alleviate the strain on the NHS and police,” said Fie Lancaster. “At the moment the council is operating two shelters, the Hulme Library site and the old children’s hospital in Harpurhey.
“Out of 70 possible buildings they found five in good enough condition to have people sleeping in them, and those two wound up being the only ones suitable for use. Both have been earmarked for redevelopment by city planners, so the homelessness team can’t keep them forever. We’re not talking about opening a hostel or a shelter, though – it’s about an out-of-hours provision,” she continued. “There is nothing like what we are proposing in Manchester. London has it, but I don’t think there’s anything in Greater Manchester either. In fact, I’m not even sure if one exists in the north at all.”
Paul Andrews, Manchester City Council’s executive member for adult health and wellbeing, said: “We are working closely with Coffee 4 Craig along with a number of other charities, and we value the important work they do to support rough sleepers in Manchester.
“We recognise there is a need in the city for an evening indoor centre, open seven days a week to ensure that nobody has to be out on the street, and we also share Coffee 4 Craig’s concern about the need for overnight accommodation in Manchester.
“The need for more overnight provision is why we opened up two empty buildings as overnight emergency provision at the end of last year, while we have also opened up a number of shared houses specifically for homeless people.”
Photo: Coffee 4 Craig’s Risha Lancaster (from Coffee 4 Craig You Tube site)