The Booth Centre – rebuilding lives

At the Ladies’ Continental Breakfast in April we were inspired by a talk on the Booth Centre in Manchester from our churchwarden, Sue Redford, who has been appointed the first ambassador for the Centre.

The Centre is not a hostel, but caters in a wide variety of ways for people sleeping rough; men make up 93% of its clients, around half have alcohol problems, a third have drug-related issues and a massive 85% are wrestling with their mental health.

‘Rough sleepers’ end up on the streets for myriad reasons, including becoming homeless at the end of a tenancy or marriage break-up. They are provided at the Booth Centre with not only wholesome meals – up to 800 a week are served – but also an impressive range of services to help them to get their lives back on track. The Centre offers assistance in finding accommodation, accessing medical, podiatry and counselling services, and developing skills such as literacy and computing, sewing and woodwork, all of which help to restore self-belief.

Many of the volunteers at the Centre have been on the streets themselves, and are therefore fully aware of the challenges someone faces when they have reached ‘rock bottom’. Obviously, they have great street credibility with those they are trying to help out of a life of hopelessness and homelessness.

Bowdon Parish supports the Booth Centre in several important ways. Our harvest collection provides them with their biggest single input of food. There is always a constant need also for socks, gloves, hats, scarves, equipment for housing and towels, which do not have to be new for the Centre’s showers. Please check out their website (www.boothcentre.org.uk) and our weekly pew sheet for their latest appeals.  Items donated should be left in the allotted place at the back of St Mary’s. The Booth Centre also welcomes volunteers, financial donations, offers of help with fundraising, and the possibility of employment opportunities for the homeless people they are trying so hard to help.

Joanna Williams