Last night was our seventh trip out with the Birmingham Homeless Outreach programme. We’ve teamed up with City Vending Services based in Tamworth to ensure our night out once a month provides the homeless with everything they could need for the night. Last night we were able to provide
60 hot baked potatoes with cheese and beans
60 chocolate bars
100 packets of crisps
50 pieces of fresh fruit
As much lemonade as they could drink and biscuits as they could eat
Hot drinks of tea, coffee and hot chocolate
Toiletries including deodourant, baby wipes, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap & female products
All this alongside the usual food parcels kindly donated by Greggs each day
We were also joined by a small team from Marks & Spencers who came out to see how they can help on an ongoing basis. Around 15 volunteers turned up in total, and after meeting at the Rag Market for the usual ‘fixed’ handouts, we went out with a small walking group – this is the first ASH have done the evening walkabout, and what an eye-opener that was! Until you have walked the carparks and back alleys late at night, you can never truly appreciate the scale of the homeless problem. Like many others I always though most people had a bed in a hostel at night, but this is simply not the case. In a one hour walk around we handed out food parcels and hot drinks to around 50 people, all of whom had set up for the night in doorways, car parks, and under stairwells. We didn’t cover much ground – for the regular volunteers they know all the places to look, which are usually not noticed by regular passers by. I am told the situation down at the canal tunnels is even worse, but we did not venture that far as we ran out of supplies.
The main aim of the charity has always been to use a disused council building in Birmingham to build another hostel, one which is charity run and can accomodate those who simply cannot afford to stay in the other hostels. To help the pregnant, elderly, and most vulnerable of people. Unfortunately, they remain a long way from this, due to the significant expense in creating and maintaining such a facility.
It was lovely to hear that a local school had raised £93 through fundraising and donated that to the charity this week. The children chose toiletries as their donations, and the trustees spent every penny they raised on those supplies. A relatively small donation (when you compare it to the millions raised by other charities) can go so far in a small charity like this, as literally every penny is spent on providing what they need.
With the colder weather not too far away, it is even more important that volunteers give their time (and for those who are lucky enough to afford it, a little of their money), to help them through, and give them hope there will be a life after the streets.
If you are close to Birmingham, and would like to help, with either your time, financial donations, or simply collect some unwanted items from family and friends to add to our supplies pile, please contact Nicci Ashby on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how you can help.