James Kenealey 50 weeks of giving
CHARITY | 2 MIN READ
Morson continues 50 Weeks of Giving with homelessness sleep-out.
Employees Victoria Doherty and Lorna James slept rough to raise money for homeless shelter facilities in Manchester.
On 17th May 2019, Morson employees Lorna James and Victoria Doherty took part in the Cornerstone Big Sleep-Out in Manchester to raise money for and awareness of homelessness.
The Cornerstone Big Sleep-Out is an annual event that sees members of the public sleep rough to raise money to fund the construction of portacabins (or ‘pods’) that serve as temporary shelter for the destitute, homeless and rough sleepers. People taking part are allowed to take nothing more than cardboard, binbags, a sleeping bag and a few warm items of clothing, regardless of the weather.
Before they took part in the event, Client Services Manager Victoria Doherty and P.A Lorna James visited several homeless shelters in the region to take donations of clothing, food and self-care products that had been provided to them by employees of Morson. The money they raised from sleep-out challenge would go directly towards funding the pods, with the donation forming part of the ’50 Weeks of Giving’ programme for 2019.
After the event, we spoke to Vic and Lorna about their motivations for taking part, how their experience was and what they discovered along the way.
What were your motivations for taking part?
Vic: When I worked in Manchester I used to go under a bridge and I’d see this one guy all the time who was homeless. He was called Dave and his dog was called Bob. He never begged and asked for anything or bother anyone and he always used to say hello. It was seeing others walk around him or ignore him that got to me, so I used to purposely bring some extra food with me in the mornings - an orange, an apple or something like that. That went on for about three years. Then one day, he wasn’t there anymore. It just started to make me think about how many people in Manchester particularly how many people there are. There’s so much more people can do about it but people judge too easily. It’s not always to do with drugs or alcohol.
Lorna: Mine is very similar. I wanted to have a better appreciation for what it’s like for people sleeping rough. It really upsets me to see and you just want to help these people.
What was your experience like at the food banks?
Lorna: "When we went to the Salford food bank, the people there looked so vulnerable. You don’t see it everyday and you don’t realise how many people are on the poverty line. Just one little thing that we bought meant loads to these people. When I was speaking to people there, you realise that there’s so much form filling to do these days and its really difficult to know where to start when it comes to trying to get out of the situation."
Vic: "I think sometimes a little bit of awareness goes a long way. Everyone has a spare bit of toothpaste or deodorant and we can make a huge difference. Even if you think that you don’t want to contribute to something they shouldn’t buy by giving them money, there’s always the possibility of giving them something like a drink. It felt so good to be helping. Look what happened with us as a business. It was a few weeks and two or three comms went out and people bought in one item, went to the shops and bought more. The kindness we had here went a long way. Then to physically see that actually making a difference was quite emotional."
"To physically see something so small actually making a difference was quite emotional." - Lorna James
Tell us about sleeping rough.
Lorna: Cornerstone did a presentation before the night we slept about how the organisation started and how it helps. It gives perspective from two people explaining how and why they were getting help. After that the night went by very slowly. We were in a safe marshalled place where we were being looked after and it was frightening enough hearing the sirens in the distance, but it was weird to imagine being in the middle of Piccadilly Gardens or somewhere like that.
Vic: There were about 100 people there which was a great turn out. There were children too, I think the parents had bought them to teach them how lucky they are! We could go in for hot drinks up until a certain point so we still had a few luxuries like going to a private toilet.
Lorna: It made me think that if you were that scruffy and nobody would let you in to public places to use the toilets. The whole experience was actually quite spiritual. Being out of your comfort zone and realising how lucky you are when you’re away from all of your things. It makes you not want to moan so much.
Vic: We said we’d go to sleep about half one and we went to sleep holding hands!
How did you feel the next day?
Lorna: I think I could cope because I knew it was only going to be one night. I was aching through the night because of the way I was holding myself in the night to keep warm. When I woke up the next morning I felt horrible, and that’s just one night. It’s a dignity thing, and it’s amazing how just by having a wash or something like that it can improve you.
Vic: One night, weather was kind. If I’d done multiple nights I’d have reached out for something like alcohol and other substances just to get through the night!
Vic: It was a real humbling experience and I’m grateful we did the journey together.
Victoria and Lorna have raised over £2,700 from their sleep-out. The donation goes directly to Cornerstone and they become one of the charities in our ’50 Weeks of Giving’ series. As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, the programme has seen us provide an individual donation each week to help worthy causes in the region. Coupled with our core annual charity activity we aim to raise and donate £500,000 in total. Our core charities for the year are ABF The Solider’s Charity and Motor Neurone Disease Association.