In 2019 MYC appointed Barnabus as its first ever Charity of the Year, pledging 100 hours to support Manchester’s homeless community. It’s safe to say our initial visit to their drop-in centre was a real eye-opener, and we’ve learned plenty more since as our relationship with the charity has blossomed.
Reflecting on our experiences towards the end of 2019, the team unanimously agreed to reinstate Barnabus for 2020. Here’s why we loved helping this charity over the past 12 months, and why we’ve chosen to give another 100 hours towards the cause.
What role does Barnabus play in Manchester?
Miranda: “We all see people sleeping rough on Manchester streets, but it’s hard to know how to help except dropping a few coins in a cup. Barnabus goes so much further. Their drop-in centre, The Beacon, provides a safe and warm place where they can go for food (and not just standard soup kitchen stuff), shower, find clean clothes and even speak to the nurse about health issues.
And this is just the start – ultimately The Beacon is a gateway to rehabilitation. A conversation with the Barnabus team and volunteers is often the first step to getting back into sheltered accomodation, work and general society.”
How have MYC supported Barnabus?
Volunteering at The Beacon isn’t the only way in which MYC have supported Barnabus over the past 12 months…
Sam: “In May 2019 MYC limbered up and prepared for something unheard of in the copywriting sphere… exercise. We recognised the true impact of donations during our time volunteering, and wanted to play our part in fundraising for Barnabus. The Great Manchester Run was the perfect opportunity to show our support (as well as comradery) for the city’s most vulnerable residents.
In what could be described as ‘amateur at best’ we gradually prepared ourselves for the feat ahead and set up a JustGiving Page with a target of £500.00. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we smashed our target and earned a total of £756.00!”
Lucinda: “We were able to flex our creative muscles a little too. In October, we were tasked with editing Barnabus’ Annual Report. Having experienced one of their busiest ever years, they needed a helping hand to pull together a critical document for submission to the Board and charity commission – as well as distribution amongst stakeholders.
The 23-page document included many facts and figures about those they support – including that the number of service users has increased by over 50% in the last five years, and that 75% of visitors feel safer and more able to cope with their situation since coming to Barnabus – and plenty of inspirational case studies.
Getting to celebrate their fantastic achievements in this way made us feel more connected to the cause – and we’re excited to see their projects go from strength to strength in 2020.”
What have you enjoyed most?
Sam: “Anyone living in Manchester will be conscious of the homeless community. Whether you currently donate to a charity or give support wherever you can, it always feels like a reactive contribution. With Barnabus, you’re actively improving lives.
You’re working with an organisation that’s trying to get the most vulnerable members of society back on their feet. Helping with job interviews and accommodation requests, their team recognise you don’t need to be sleeping on the street to be in need of shelter and support.
This is what I love most about Barnabus: the decision to have their own definition of homelessness and non-judgemental approach to helping people change their circumstances. It really reframes your perception of what is actually happening in the city.”
Any highlights that stand out?
Josh “On my first day, I manned the Barnabus cloakroom. It gave me ample room to indulge dreams of becoming the guy at the costume store in Mr Ben. People could queue up for new socks, shirts, jackets and shoes, as well as a shower if they carried a red ticket from downstairs.
I took it upon myself to style people. But a particular man – bright-eyed and indisputably positive about the rainy day outside – left me in awe. He spent 10 minutes at our desk pithily assessing everything we had. When I asked what he was doing for shelter tonight, he held up a t-shirt with the German Imperial Eagle on the front. “Might try and bag an Austrian bloke with this, sleep under his arms for the evening.” Wonderful stuff.”
What takeaways do you have from volunteering?
Grace: “Barnabus not only allowed me to help my local community, but also gave me the opportunity to spend quality time with my colleagues in a non-work setting. Being with my teammates gave me the confidence to help more and play my part. It was also really interesting to hear the stories of people from a variety of backgrounds and find out about their day-to-day lives.”
Lucy: “Before joining MYC, I’d never done any volunteering, so didn’t know what to expect. I was really nervous the first time I went to Barnabus, but now I look forward to it when we have a date in the diary. It’s nice to know that you’re making a difference to someone’s day. The whole experience has also made me want to do more for Barnabus – and other charities.”
Why have you reinstated Barnabus as your Charity of the Year?
Kelly: “When I first decided to appoint a charity in 2019 I never anticipated such enthusiasm from the team. It’s been extremely rewarding to see everyone embrace volunteering and it’s really enriched our business. I think a large part of this is down to Barnabus itself – as a small charity they really appreciate any support they can get, and they’ve welcomed the team with open arms. That’s why it was a no-brainer for us to continue our relationship going into 2020.”
Yet to appoint your own Charity of the Year? Or looking to dip your toe in the water with volunteering? We can’t recommend Barnabus highly enough for Manchester businesses wanting to give back.
From mucking in at the drop-in centre to donations and pro bono work, there’s so many ways in which a small contribution can make a big impact to this local charity. For more information visit www.barnabus-manchester.org.uk or ask us to introduce you to the team!!