Updated: Friday, 24th November 2017 @ 8:08am

'More than ever need help': Manchester families pushed to 'crisis point', warns charity

'More than ever need help': Manchester families pushed to 'crisis point', warns charity

| By Niall Griffiths

The country’s economic situation is causing ‘massive stress’ for Mancunians, according to the manager of a local charity dedicated to supporting struggling families.

Shelley Byrne has worked at Home-Start – winner of the Manchester Arndale’s Charity of the Year award – for nine years, but stated that the charity’s workload is currently higher than it has ever been before.

Home-Start is the region’s leading family support charity, with seven individual volunteer-led schemes running throughout the Manchester area providing emotional and practical help to families with young children.

And Ms Byrne is convinced that the increased demand for her charity’s services are a sure sign that more families are struggling under the pressure of the Government’s economic policies.

 “I’ve worked for Home-Start for nine years and I’ve definitely seen an increase in demand for our services,” she said.

“I certainly think that the economic situation plays a big part in that and the added stress of that for families is pretty massive.

“Our waiting lists are increasing by the day and that is a true reflection of the fact that more and more families are in need of support.”

Home-Start were approached by Manchester Arndale shortly after inviting them along to a launch event at The Lowry Theatre in September, without knowing about their Charity of the Year scheme.

After being encouraged by the company to apply, a process open to all local charities, Home-Start found themselves on a shortlist of two charities, before being chosen as the Charity of the Year.

The partnership means that the charity will receive a year’s worth of fundraising from the Arndale, and the aid comes at a crucial time for the charity, with resources stretched between several schemes throughout the Greater Manchester area, as well as the fact that they’re operating in a time of economic instability.

And Ms Byrne described the support as a ‘real lifeline’.

“Of course the fundraising aspect of it is amazing because the funds raised by Manchester Arndale will directly benefit the families,” she said.

“We believe that we are providing a vital service and if we didn’t exist there would be a lot more families at crisis point and needing intervention and knowing that we have the backing of such a prestigious company is a real lifeline for us.

“We’ve got an absolute duty to make sure that funds raised will either go direct to families or to recruiting volunteers that will provide support to said families.

 “For me personally I’m also quite excited about how we can develop relationships with retailers within the shopping centre to look at wider fundraising activities as well as wider partnerships.

 “It’s very difficult for charities to build relationships with the corporate sector so I think this is a very exciting opportunity.”

Fundraising for Home-Start will begin at Manchester Arndale’s annual Christmas charity gift wrap service in Halle Square from November 26 to December 24, and will be followed over the course of the year by multiple events such as bake-offs, fancy-dress days among others.

David Allinson, Centre Director at Manchester Arndale, said: “Year on year we are proud to support local charities and community groups through our Christmas Charity Star campaign.

“This year we wanted to go even further and move fundraising from just our charity gift wrap service, to deliver a full year of activity to raise the maximum amount for one worthy cause.

“We want to have fun whilst raising money that will make a real difference to the work of Home-Start Greater Manchester.

“Most importantly, we want to raise awareness for the work of Home-Start, and encourage our shoppers to give generously and/or volunteer for a charity whose work impacts so many families and individuals in the region.”

For more information on Home-Start’s Manchester North branch, click here