High5ives Volunteer Day: Barnabus Manchester

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At HAVAS LYNX, we work hard to enable social change, globally and locally, both through the work we do and through our High5ives activities. High5ives is a platform powered by the people in LYNX to drive social good and improve the lives of those within our communities. As part of the High5ives programme each member of the LYNX team has the opportunity to take one day’s paid leave each year to volunteer within their local community to action helpful change.
Mitzi Jones, Victoria Halsall, Jen Woodward and Sarah Holmes, four members of the Havas Lynx team took their High5ives voluntary day in December to help local charity for the homeless, Barnabus. Below Mitzi tells us about their experiences, as they helped the charity with the festival rush.

What is Barnabus?

Barnabus is a charity on Bloom Street in Manchester, only thirty seconds walk away from our offices at Havas Lynx. From there, it provides essential care and support to hundreds of homeless people in Manchester. The charity’s Development Manager, Carol, told us that over 400 people use the charity’s one-on-one support, which helps meet goals such as obtaining shelter, ID, benefits, housing and training for employment. Over 600 people also use the drop-in service, which provides immediate needs such as food, showers, clothes and a friendly face, as well as advice and skills sessions, community building activities and help with online forms and searches. They also provide outreach work at night to check those on the street have the help they need and know their options. The charity only has 7 paid staff but over 70 regular volunteers.

What was it like at the charity?

The charity was clean and organised, welcoming and busy! We arrived and immediately had to help by providing a chain of hands to unload an enormous supply of donations from charity advocate Ricky Hatton’s car. I don’t know who would have helped with this hadn’t we have been there, but we transported all the clothes, blankets, food and toiletries out of the way to sit temporarily in their new medical suite. We set about making sure everything was unpacked and ready for easy access. Downstairs, the morning drop-in was well underway and we popped down to witness the bustle of service users coming in for a hot meal, a chat and to pick up some warm clothes.

Jen spent her morning giving out clean clothes, shoes and toiletries to the homeless who had spent the night outside in the cold and wet. “One woman asked for some dry clothes and we asked if she needed any sanitary products but she replied saying she was pregnant so it wasn’t necessary. We asked if she had the help and support she needed and she said ‘so long as it’s healthy I’ll be happy and I’ll manage’. I didn’t quite know what to say or how to react. It’s so far from what I imagine when I think of where I’d want to be if I were pregnant.”

How did it feel giving up a day’s work to do this?

It was eye opening and saddening – but also a positive experience! Undoubtedly Carol was pleased to have us there. Our second task, to vet the Christmas shoe box gifts donated by local church groups, truly benefited from all of us being there. Whilst the dedicated regular staff worked really hard to make sure the essential needs of the charity were met, we helped prepare personalised Christmas gifts for the homeless service users. Some included handwritten Christmas wishes from children and families, who were doing what they could to support those less fortunate in the festive season. It was as wonderful to see, but as Carol reminded us, the charity needs support year round.

If you’d like to find out more about Barnabus and the work it does, visit its websiteFacebook or Twitter page.

 

Since its launch High5ives has donated over 600 hours to local and international charities and raised £77,116.86. To find out more information on the work we have undertaken and the amazing achievements High5ives have accomplished visit our latest twitter posts