On the street with UNITY Outreach

The Glossop Chronicle followed the hard work of local homeless initiative UNITY Outreach as they dish up hot meals, give out snack packs, toiletries, clothing and other essentials for those sleeping rough in Manchester.

Jolene Hampson started UNITY Outreach almost a year ago, which has grown into a formidable initiative thanks to a team of local volunteers and kind weekly donations of food and clothes from Glossopians.

The team also support the homeless community in other ways, such as offering to organise and attend medical appointments, council and housing meetings and pick-ups from jail when they have no one else to turn to.

Last Tuesday Jolene, helped by her daughter Mary and sister Nichola Hampson-Shearer, was busy dishing up homemade chicken stew and donated pasta bakes, before loading a front-room-full of supplies into their van – including a stack of handmade pizzas by Hadfield Infants decorated with lovingly made cards.

Despite the onslaught of a Northern downpour, the team were quick to meet volunteers in Manchester – including Haircuts 4 Homeless, another initiative that offers free cuts and beard trims to those on the streets.

Within minutes the team were approached by a young man called Lewis, just one of the city’s hundreds of homeless people struggling to stay warm in the rain.

He was given a hot drink, new dry clothes and a trim by stylist Jackie.

Lewis was the first of many people UNITY helped throughout the night, with the team prepared to stick through the weather well until midnight to give vital supplies to those in need.

It’s always an emotional pilgrimage for Jolene, Nichola and the team, who have come to know a number of the people they help personally and often go above and beyond to help.

Jolene said: “We can see up to 100 men and women in one night, but it tends to range between 60-70 – so without the people, family, friends and businesses from Glossop we just couldn’t do it.

“You do come home to your warm bed and feel so guilty... you get to know these people personally and find out all about their lives and we’re so passionate about making a difference.”

Jolene and the team have big plans for the future of the outreach, but will first be swapping their beds for sleeping bags to raise cash for vital winter essentials in a fundraising challenge.

Their “Big Sleep Out” will take place on the 7th of December and they hope to raise £1,000 for their cause.  You can donate here.

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