Lifeshare’s 2022 Christmas Project opened on December 23rd with visits from radio and musical legend, Clint Boon, and reporters from ITV’s Granada Report, the Manchester Evening News, and Hits Radio, but the work to begin the project started much earlier with supplies arriving to the New Victoria Development from December 12th, volunteer inductions beginning December 1st, fundraising beginning in June, and planning meetings starting as early as February 2022 to make the project happen. Through the dedicated work of the Lifeshare team along with the site partners including Pension Insurance Corporation, Muse Developments, Vinci Construction, and their supply chain partners, the 7-day provision was able to provide over 1800 meals for guests on-site as well as distributing meals to local temporary accommodations to make sure that everyone in Manchester had a Merry Christmas.
The project does more than just provide meals, Lifeshare offers hot showers, warm clothes, snacks and supplies as well as drop-ins from other support services including barbers, opticians, nurses, and vets. There were also 8 musical guests during the week to help brighten the spirits of the almost 700 guests who attended the project. They were also joined by doctors, nurses, opticians, barbers, and hairdressers to help support their well-being. This project was supported by members of the VCUK supply chain including fire risk assessments by SPL Fire Safety Limited, risk assessments conducted by FK Group, site reconfiguration by O’Neill & Brennan, site screens constructed by REDS Joinery, additional security support by Hardhat, refrigeration provided by John Sisk & Son, and storage provided by Sunbelt Rentals.
Lifeshare’s Christmas Project has run for 35 years and offers homeless people and those in crisis a place to find hot meals, companionship, medical and personal care, shower facilities, veterinary care and other amenities with the aim to reduce isolation and bring people together from December 23 – 29.
Matt Legg, VINCI Building’s project manager for the New Victoria scheme, said: “Last year our welfare buildings were used as the site for Lifeshare’s Christmas project. Since last Christmas, the planning has been ongoing to make sure we can offer a bigger and better service.
“Our teams are volunteering and taking part to help wherever necessary and I really couldn’t be prouder. Through our delivery of the exciting New Victoria scheme, we ensure that we not only deliver a flagship development but leave a lasting legacy and support the communities in which we work”.
Our fantastic team of 437 Volunteers managed to turn out a fabulous result despite it being our busiest Christmas project to date with 100+ guests each day. Over the course of the project, they made approximately 3,345 cups of tea and helped give out 400+ selection boxes. Over the course of the week, we had over 1750 hours of volunteer time donated to help make the project happen.
Feedback from our volunteer team included
“My favourite part was feeling that I was offering the chance to be treated with respect and courtesy to people who aren’t usually treated that way.”
“I especially liked seeing a tangible impact on people who came in.”
“It is a great organisation, well organised and volunteering is very rewarding. Also, all the volunteers and organisers are warm, welcoming, friendly, fun and dedicated.
The partners helping to make this Lifeshare Christmas Project happen at the New Victoria residential development include VINCI Building, Muse, PIC, Chroma, Walker Sime, HAALO, WSP, Project FF&E, Lee Brothers, and John Sisk. The team is currently on site with the 450,000 sq ft residential phase of New Victoria, which will bring forward 520 homes over two 20 and 25-storey buildings at a central location next to Manchester Victoria station. Completion is on course for summer 2023.
Simon Hourihan, project director at Muse, said: “It is not lost on us as a business that while amazing buildings are being constructed across the city, some people haven’t got a stable home. Our goal is to create kinder communities that are built on creating opportunities for all to have a brighter future and for all to be healthy in body and mind. We’re proud to support the vital work of charities like Lifeshare, to try and help those in need find a stable and nurturing community where they can thrive.”
Other services included visits from doctors, barbers, and opticians with 33 doctors appointments, 42 haircuts, and 20 optician appointments during their pop-ups. A pop-up from partner charity Street Paws also saw two dogs given full flea and worm treatments and Pets at Home provided beds, toys, and food for all of the four-legged guests who attended. An outdoor heated marquee for pets and their parents to rest in comfort was generously provided by Xclusive Marquees for the second year in a row.
Local partner Iceland Manufacturing stopped by on the opening day to provide a drop off of additional food including Christmas puddings, turkey crowns, and stuffing balls to help make meals more festive as well as over £4,000 raised by their staff to support the charity’s work. Onsite caterer JF Catering ordered in the remainder of the food needed for the week including supplies for full English breakfasts, hot soups and fresh sandwiches for lunch, and nightly dinners including shepherd’s pie, curry, and burgers along with vegetarian alternatives.
The generous donations from the team, of which PIC contributed £10,000, will mean that Lifeshare can continue its vital work supporting those in need. This includes continuing to run its recently extended weekend breakfast provision on a Friday, as well as Saturday and Sundays, well into the New Year.
After the Project closed down we asked out volunteers what they would remember about their experience and had the following shared with us “What I’ll remember is the feeling of hope that being a Lifeshare volunteer gave me. We’re bombarded with all the bad in the world but it was a lovely reminder that there are lots of people fighting the good fight.”
Photos generously provided by Shirlaine Forrest.