How easy is it to become homeless?
It is far easier than you might think. In fact, it can happen to anybody. No one is immune from the possibility of
becoming homeless, even if they’re financially comfortable, in a stable family, well educated, and in good health; a change in circumstances can potentially start off a chain reaction of setbacks that ultimately result in homelessness. According to the charity Shelter, 1 in 3 working families are just “one payday away” from losing their homes. And once homeless, it’s very difficult to get out of that situation. People assume that to be homeless you must not have a job, but many homeless people are in fact employed and having to spend so much on surviving day to day that they can’t get back into stable accommodation. Not having a home means not having a kitchen, and not having a kitchen means surviving on convenience food, and doing more travelling, and needing to buy more supplies… it all mounts up. Add to that the many negative effects of living on the streets – physical, mental, social – and you can see how a supposedly small blip in someone’s life circumstances can end up turning into a long-term ordeal and a radical change in how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself. The security that most of us feel in our own life situations is really an illusion, and we all exist on much more precarious footing than we would like to admit.
When did you both become aware of
homelessness as a growing problem?
We’ve watched several documentaries over the past few years which really highlighted the depth and breadth of the problem, and on visits to Manchester we saw just how serious the issue has become – it seemed to get worse with every visit. We moved here just a few months ago, and we both find it so sad every time we walk through the city to come across several rough sleepers on the freezing cold streets, clearly struggling and inevitably being ignored or avoided by most passers-by. Homelessness is especially visible here in Manchester – we don’t know if it’s a far higher rate here than average, but we would presume so from what we’ve seen of other cities.
What made you decide to get proactive as individuals
and try and offer a helping hand?
Like we said, homelessness is especially visible here, and seeing something like that right in front of you presents a moral issue that you can’t escape. It’s very sad. If you stop turning a blind eye to it and reflect, just for a moment, on how different your circumstances appear to be in comparison to someone sleeping rough out on the streets, you can’t help but feel the need to take action. And people do want to help; they often just don’t know how. We try and give money when we can but obviously we can’t afford to help every single person on our own. People sometimes tell you not to give money to the homeless because they might spend it on drugs or alcohol, but we prefer not to judge; life on the streets must be hard enough without people passing moral judgement on your life choices. But we do know that we can get useful items for a better price than the average
person living on the street, since we have internet access and a home address to use for ordering and storing our supplies in bulk, and we really wanted to be able to provide something useful to those who need it.
Is important to offer a vegan or meat free
alternative for homeless people?
It’s very important. By providing a vegan alternative you are supporting fellow humans without bringing unnecessary harm to animals, and sending a clear message that there is no need for animals to suffer in order to alleviate the suffering of humans. The reason we chose to do this form of outreach is because although there are already several organisations doing great work to help those on the streets, they almost always resort to using animal products (in soup kitchens, for example) due to the scarcity of resources. Feeding animal products to those in a desperate situation presumes that they don’t have an ethical position on this, or that their ethics are unimportant, and we know from experience of working with homeless people that this is absolutely not true. Vegan food can also be very affordable and nutritious, and from a safety perspective, it will keep much better than food containing animal derivatives. There’s a reason that supermarkets might allow you to take their
out-of-date fruit and vegetables, but strictly won’t allow you to take their out-of-date animal-based products;
it’s a liability, from a legal point of view.
Rough sleeping picture courtesy of Pixabay
How can people get involved or donate to your project?
We have a fundraising page on Chuffed.org; we chose it because they seem to have lower overall fees than other fundraising websites, and it’s a simple and easy-to-use interface. We’d love it if you would check it out!
If you can, please do donate – just £5 can buy a vegan Winter pack for someone sleeping rough in Manchester. These will include things like: sanitary items, such as tissues, wipes, and sanitary towels; portable food items; warm socks, gloves and hats; a torch; an umbrella; water; and puzzle books to keep boredom at bay. If you’re in financial difficulty yourself and can’t donate, then we would really appreciate if you could share the link on your social media pages. Thank you!
Could someone start a similar project to yours if they’re not in Manchester? Would you have any tips for that?
Absolutely. If you have internet access and a bit of spare time, then setting up a crowdfunding page is really easy and social media helps to spread the message far and wide. As for tips, we would simply say that it’s best not to take too much on or overstretch yourself, so try to delegate tasks if you have pals willing to help, and crowdsource the funding rather than trying to cover everything yourself. Some people can give money and other people can give their time and energy and other forms of support.
How do you plan to continue your work?
Right now it’s just a short-term project, as we felt it was really important to do something now in the Winter while people on the streets are struggling more than usual. We don’t have any immediate plans to continue beyond that, as it’s just the two of us and we have other commitments, but if it proves to be successful then we might be able to make it a year-round campaign.
We’d love to hear people’s thoughts on that.
You can get in touch with Emma and Ed by emailing
Take the time to talk to homeless people.
Give what you can afford.
Volunteer at an established outreach project.
Set up your own outreach project.
If you see a rough sleeper and are worried contact your borough council, each area has their own Homeless Team, hotline number and Cold Weather Provision measures.
For more information on homelessness see:
Urgent Vegan Outreach in Manchester
You may have seen a homeless person asking for change or trying to keep warm. But have you ever wondered what happens when you’re homeless, hungry and want to maintain vegetarian or vegan beliefs? We currently have the highest amount of homeless in decades, so what can you do about it as an individual, or group, to help people in need?
Emma and Ed explain about their vegan outreach project in Manchester offering a bit of hope
and support this winter to homeless people:
Pictures of homelessness courtesy Pixabay