Manchester council’s hands tied by ‘horrendous’ Tories, says homeless charity boss

Manchester City Council are doing all they can to help the homeless on a shoestring budget limited by the horrendous Tories, according to the co-founder of the Manchester soup kitchen Coffee4Craig.

Risha and Fie Lancaster, who founded Coffee4Craig, caught up with MM this World Homeless Day to discuss their voluntary work providing hot drinks, food, and clothing for people on the streets and the difficulties the council face in dealing with the city’s homelessness crisis.

Risha, who’s brother Craig White died while homeless on the streets of Cardiff in 2013, said: “Salford is fighting a losing battle. The Tories are not backing them at all. I think they’re horrendous.

“It’s not the council’s fault – employees are on the front line, being forced to turn people away and it’s an incredibly hard, thankless job.

She described how the council are trying to tackle this growing problem, but with little budget to pay for the food, accommodation and care the city’s rough sleepers need.

She said: “Manchester council are trying very hard; it has been a hard battle for the past six months.”

Risha blames the government for the lack of funding put aside to handle the growing problem of poverty and homelessness.

“It is the government’s fault, they created austerity, but the ministers are up there, lining their pockets,” she said.

“We’ve got the money to sort out refugees and poverty, but the government uses it to spend on greed and power.”

The alternative to soup kitchens is foodbanks which can be used three times a year but the people affected have to prove they are in poverty.

Risha said: “It is horrendous, inhumane, disgusting, and shouldn’t be allowed. It’s criminal.”

She explained that everyone on the streets has a ‘story, illness or addiction’, and that only a tiny minority of people would be ‘desperate’ to play the system.

Risha also expressed her outrage that after the Manchester Dogs’ Home fire people were bringing food for the dogs but just walking past homeless people.

She said: “There are humans out on streets, but they wouldn’t leave dogs out. More people care about animals than humans.”

Coffee4Craig have teamed up with local charity Not Just Soup to provide food and drinks for homeless people in Piccadilly Gardens.

Not Just Soup was founded by restaurateur Franco behind the Manchester-based Solita burger joints.

The team has been running the scheme for the last six months and each week a different business gets involved – this week Teacup cafe in the Northern Quarter took part.

Rachel Roberts from Teacup said: “We were happy to get involved. It is such a good thing for the community.

“Teacup would definitely get involved again. It’s such a lovely thing to do.”

As part of World Homeless Day, Coffee4Craig have spent today offering out advice on how to help the homeless and what organisations to get involved with.

They have also been working with the council to form a plan-of-action strategy to deal with the growing problem.

Risha said: “I’m hoping it will raise awareness for the general public.”

The co-founder of the voluntary charity reiterated that people on the streets could be someone’s ‘brother, mother, father, husband or future husband’.

She said: “If you pass someone, say hi, treat them like a human being, it would make that person’s day.

“Make them feel wanted, make them feel human.”

Coffee4Craig’s current project, alongside feeding the homeless and providing essential clothing, is to set up a place where people can store possessions and change clothes.

Image courtesy of davejdoe, with thanks.

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