OLDHAM was the first place in the country to roll out the Covid vaccine for homeless people.
James (who asked for his name to be changed to protect his identity) spoke to The Oldham Times as he collected his food parcel from Oldham Street Angels about being homeless during the pandemic.
The 43-year-old said he has tried to get a flat “on a few occasions” but he can’t seem to break his addiction to heroin and “anything else he can get his hands on”.
Fully equipped with his sleeping bag and pillow, proudly wearing a Manchester City T-shirt, James said his life was once a different one.
“I know it’s my fault that I am homeless, I have had the support but like they all say, you can’t get help if you won’t help yourself,” he said.
“I used to have a job as a labourer and ended up getting into the drugs, that led on to heroin and then it all went downhill. I’ve had some fantastic help from these people here at Street Angels and I have had a flat as well, but it’s a different life, it’s hard holding it all together and paying bills, sometimes I think it’s easier on the streets.”
Karl (who also requested his name to be changed), meanwhile, said he had managed to turn his life around thanks to the support from homeless services in the town and has recently received his second Covid vaccine.
He said: “I was in a bad place, I was stealing to feed my habit, I was getting myself into some dark situations. With the help and the support from Street Angels I got the right care, I was clean for a few months and that helped me get a place to live.
“I still come to Street Angels to get my food and toiletries, I even get clothes when I can. I can honestly say Street Angels are angels, they have saved me from the worst. I have had my jabs and I am grateful.”
WHEN lockdown was first announced the volunteers at Oldham Street Angels had to close the charity’s doors.
But that has not stopped the determined members from coming up with an alternative plan.
With social distance measures and some careful guidelines in place, the charity was able to feed and clothe the borough’s homeless by opening back up and offering items to take away.
On a weekly basis vulnerable members of the community can turn up at the Hunters Lane site.
Donna is the charity co-ordinator and said there was no way that the charity could turn its back on those in need.
Donna said: “It has been really tough, when we first had to close it was distressing.
"We didn’t have a clue what to do but then we turned it around and opened up as a take away service.
“It has been really well received.”
According to Donna, sleeping bags have been a popular request.
She said: “It’s heartbreaking, we have people come, we give them pillows and sleeping bags and whatever they need on the day.”
Oldham Street Angels were originally volunteers that were formed to help to ensure those enjoying a Saturday night out have a fun but safe time.
Volunteers saw the need of support the homeless, vulnerable and those in need.
The base in Hunters Lane is a place for the town’s vulnerable to go, they can get a meal and the chance to use the washing machines, as well as accessing the support from other partners including Greater Manchester Police, Oldham Council and Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group.
Though they can get support and the help they need, Donna said homelessness is a complex issue.
She said: “It’s not as easy as getting somebody off the streets and into a house, they have to want it and they have to work with us.
“We can’t help those who can’t help themselves.”
More members are needed to ensure that Street Angels continues to run.
Donna added: “We are in need of more volunteers. If anyone can help then please get in touch.”
Failsworth councillor Peter Davis is already a volunteer at the organisation.
He said: “The long term aim is to get the support back here when we get out of lockdown.
“People can usually come and get the support and the help that they need.
“It has been hard because of lockdown as we have basically turned into a food bank and can’t have a sit down with the people that need it most.”
Councillor Davis also said that he cannot believe the kindness of those in Oldham’s community.
He said: “We have a large support network and couldn’t do it without them.”
Abbie Bright is a special constable for Greater Manchester Police and is also the youngest volunteer with Oldham Street Angels.
Abbie said: “It’s good to volunteer and it really does open up your eyes.
“The ladies come for clothes and it’s nice to see them leave with something that will keep them warm.”
On a weekly basis members from Oldham Boxing Club bring hot meals and chefs from the Roebook Inn also donate to feed the guests, which is approximately 50 or 60 in a week.
Street Angels also works in partnership with the Sanctuary Trust.
Sanctuary Trust is a registered charity working with homelessness and homeless related poverty and emergency homeless issues.
It was set up by Sheila Halsall after seeing the level of homelessness and substance misuse.
During lockdown workers from the trust wait outside Oldham Angels to talk to those who are on the streets or vulnerable.
Lead Chaplain, Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy £30,000-£35,000 (full-time)
Watford’s town centre has recently benefited from considerable investment from both the local council and by major retailers (notably in the intu Centre). However, the current pandemic has resulted in the closure of some major stores and created an even greater need for support and comfort from WTCC to local businesses, their employees, those losing their jobs and people in the town centre.
We believe that we, the people of God, need to respond to the challenges of town centre mission and ministry.
We are seeking to employ a committed Christian to act as Lead Chaplain at this challenging time who will lead, train and support volunteer Chaplains (day-time) and Street Angels (night-time).
For more information, including job description, person specification and how to apply, please see the WTCC website www.watfordtcc.org/jobs or email: email@example.com
For general enquiries, please contact the Revd Tony Rindl, Chair of Trustees, on 07792 505480
A group of 'street angels' who provide a lifeline to those sleeping rough have been awarded £13,500 to help them train and equip new volunteers.
The cash, which is part of £45,000 worth of money being given to organisations across Lancashire, has come from the Police and Crime Commissioner's fund.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Webb, joined Blackpool and The Fylde Street Angels out and about on their outreach around the town centre, and also visited the team at the Emergency Bed Unit in Blackpool above Blackpool Council’s housing options service.
Blackpool and The Fylde Street Angels received £13,500 of funding that will be used to help them train and equip new volunteers, upskill current volunteers and for resources such as drinks and food to give out to vulnerable people.
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, has supported Blackpool and The Fylde Street Angels through his Street Pastors, Street Angels and Similar Organisations Fund since 2016.
DPCC Chris Webb said, “I was delighted to meet the team at Blackpool and The Fylde Street Angels and thank them personally for all the incredible work they do, especially during this last year.
“It’s critical we continue to support the important work of Blackpool and The Fylde Street Angels and other organisations like them who make our streets safer and aid the most vulnerable in our communities.
“They provide a lifeline to those living on the streets, who may feel more able to seek additional help when they have become familiar with a person or local group".
CNI Network's February Update:
Homeless people and those living in shelters are now being prioritised for COVID jabs in a pioneering new scheme from Oldham Council.
The Department of Health initially placed people over the age of 80, care home workers, and health and social care workers in the top priority band, but Oldham Council and local GPs insisted on the homeless also being prioritised.
They argued that homeless people and the elderly are most at risk of contracting the virus.
Homeless couple Lee Ullha, 46, and Kelly Heney, 38, were the first to be administered the vaccine, reported Big Issue. Outreach service Street Angels reached out to the pair after they had been living for months in a tent at a local park, and brought them into the shelter to receive the jab."
CNI Network and its family of local projects are invited to contribute to an exciting new initiative which has an aim to share uplifting messages from inspirational people & communities who are helping to keep the UK going. These messages will be shared everyday during lockdown 2021.
For more details on what to share see this document. Please send your video to firstname.lastname@example.org (if a large file WeTransfer.com is a great way to send)
Check out Great British Bubble on:
Premier Christian Radio have featured CNI Network trustee Martin Rowley on the British Empire Medal (BEM) he has received in the New Year Honours:
A British Empire Medal (BEM) has been awarded to Martin Rowley for services to the community in York. Martin is a trustee of the Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network. He told Premier he was touched to receive his nomination.
"I did feel very humbled and honoured that someone had gone to the length of nominating me," he said. "With a nomination you need to have two or three letters of support. Not only has someone nominated me but they've gone to the trouble of finding people to support that nomination. It's just a real genuine honour."
Premier Radio also featured Martin hourly on the news. Martin was also interviewed on BBC Radio York.
Donate to the work of CNI Network here
Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network:
Registered Charity 1136416 / Company Limited by Guarantee 07173090
All content and various brand names (C) CNI Network
Postal Address: CNI Network, The King's Centre, Park Rd, Halifax, HX1 2TS
E-Mail: email@example.com (founder / CEO) / Phone: 07725501465