Beautiful South star Paul Heaton brings Manchester charities Hope for Christmas

Pop star Paul Heaton is bringing Christmas cheer to two of the city’s charities with a special benefit gig at Manchester Academy 2 next month.

The former Beautiful South and Housemartins frontman hopes to give two food banks a needed holiday boost by performing on December 12 alongside Jacqui Abbott as part of the Hope for Christmas concert.

Audience members will be encouraged to donate non-perishable foods and toiletries to support the work of Moss Side foodbank Compassion and Bury’s Porch Boxes.

The event, organised by campaign group HOPE not Hate, will also feature performances from the Golinski Brothers and The Lottery Winners.

Paul is hoping that by promoting these charities and the good work they do, Christmas could be about changing the lives of those facing hardship or abuse this festive season.

He said: “Christmas brings it all to a head doesn’t it? This project will hopefully help people who are homeless or have struggled throughout the year to have a good Christmas and look into January and think that maybe things can change.”

The singer has posted articles on his website to raise awareness of Compassion and Porch Boxes along with his plea to the 800 plus audience to bring a donation.

Compassion has been doing great work in the Moss Side area, but could use a helping hand as demand for its services have doubled in the last year.

In the first six months of 2013 it distributed 16,300 meals, 1,119 food parcels and fed 1,800 people.

Porch Boxes, who help out struggling families and individuals across Bury and Rochdale, has also seen demand reach record levels.

Since the charity was founded in 2009, they have distributed 40,000 emergency packs to vulnerable or abused people living in temporary housing or hostel accommodation, the homeless and older people who live in poverty.

Last year alone it issued 5,000 food packs via children’s centres, health centres, social services and other partner agencies.

Porch Boxes chair Julia Rowland admits to being a big fan of Paul’s and has thanked him for his valuable support.

She said: “To fill our packs and support some of the most financially vulnerable people in our communities, Porch Boxes relies solely on the goodwill of individuals and organisations.

“Need is particularly acute at Christmas so we are really grateful to Paul not just for encouraging his fans to donate but for helping raise awareness of what we do.”

Both food banks are already set to receive an early Christmas present as one of the UK’s largest food co-operatives, Halifax based, Suma Wholefoods, has pledged to donate a pallet of food for them share.

This will mean they will soon receive ten cases each of pasta, pasta sauce and soup – enough to feed more than 480 people.

The Hope for Christmas gig will also raise funds for Manchester-based Article 26, a project of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, which supports asylum seekers hoping to pursue higher education courses.

To find out more about the Hope for Christmas concert click here.

Image courtesy of BBC, via YouTube, with thanks.

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