According to official statistics released this month, the number of rough sleepers in Greater Manchester has increased by 41%. This is just a snapshot and the real figure could be higher.
This week the Renaissance Hotel in Manchester city centre is working with one of our best known charities, the Booth Centre, to host an exhibition of work by artists who have experienced homelessness or are currently homeless.
Danny Collins is a former homeless artist exhibiting his work this week.
“Rough sleeping is tough,” says Danny. “I was on the streets for four years after suffering from post-traumatic stress having left the army. I just couldn’t settle once I left which eventually resulted in my homelessness. I first tried the art class when I joined the Booth Centre. I had never painted before. I find it relaxing and enjoy getting involved. It really helped to build my confidence.”
For the exhibition, he decided to paint a bridge he used to sleep under when he was homeless.
“It seemed fitting to go back to the start of my journey and my corner of Manchester that for four years was home as a rough sleeper.”
Danny is now in his own accommodation which he’s in the process of decorating and is training to be a peer mentor.
The Marriott and Renaissance hotels have an ongoing programme to support their local communities. This has included projects to develop local play areas, training and skills sharing projects for those in search of a job and events and partnerships with variety of charities and organisations supporting the homeless around Manchester. The art exhibition is part of that programme.
The Booth Centre has worked with the homeless and those at risk of homelessness for over 20 years offering everything from free healthy meals, helping them to find accommodation, and tackling health issues including addiction.
“Our regular art workshops help people with experience of homelessness to develop their skills and confidence, and to make steps towards embracing new opportunities like getting their own flat or moving on to employment,” says Amy Hinks from the Booth Centre. “Working in partnership with the Renaissance Hotel has enabled our artists to showcase their work in a very public space which they’re all really proud of.
“Without the support of companies like the Renaissance Hotel, we wouldn’t be able to help as many people as we have this year. It is vital that we all work together to support the growing number of homeless people in our community, especially during the cold winter months. We’d like to thank the Renaissance Hotel for their commitment and support.”
The pop-up exhibition is on until 12th February 2017 at the Renaissance Hotel, Blackfriars Street, Manchester M3 2EQ.