There are many great small charities in Manchester that support people quickly when they need it.
And if you can spare just £1 per week, there are the wonderful 500 Acts of Kindness. The charity hands out £500 to the most deserving people who are struggling through no fault of their own.
This could be someone who is sleeping on the floor because they have no bed, eating cold food because they have no working oven, or no school uniforms for their kids because they cannot afford them.
The cost of living crisis is now affecting more working people than ever before and charities like this one are putting people back together, who feel broken by what is taking place and helpless.
Members contribute £1 per week and then they can nominate someone or a group of people they have come across or heard about. They send in their nomination and it is then read and considered every Friday and the following week, the process begins again.
I met up with the co-founders – actor Julie Hesmondhalgh and her friend Chris Malvern to find out more.
When you started 500 Acts of Kindness, what were you hoping to achieve?
Chris: Julie was already a member of a group like 500 Acts of Kindness. She was regularly coming across people in need of some help and it just made sense to start up this group. In the beginning, we just wanted to get enough funders to be able to help someone. Sometimes a little kindness at just the right moment is all people need to start seeing the world in a more positive light. We hear time and again that for people struggling, though the cash is important, it’s being seen and heard and cared for – that’s the game-changer. We wanted that and we have a wonderful community of people who help every week to make it happen.
With the cost of living crisis getting deeper, are you hearing stories of more people in need of support?
Julie: Yes. It can feel a bit overwhelming some weeks. We’ve now had years of under-investment in core services, the loss of some altogether like Surestart for example, that’s a factor too. But the cost of living crisis, food and energy poverty, rising rents, and universal credit (with all its associated problems) have hit people really hard. And it is not just people who aren’t working or unable to work. Wage stagnation and zero-hour contracts mean we get nominations to help people who are working full-time or more than one job, they’re really struggling too. Everyone is feeling stretched. We had a real spike in numbers when the local government ran out of discretionary funds to help people in need of basic beds, ovens, fridges etc.
Some people might think that a £1 a week won’t make a difference and it might put them off, what would you say to convince them that every £1 counts?
Chris: Well, your £1 a week together with ours and all our (1000 or so) members can make a huge difference. Things so many of us take for granted like carpets for example. Just think about how expensive it is to heat your home and now add drafty floorboards or a cold concrete floor into the mix. For the people, we get to help it’s not just about comfort it saves them money every week. Having an oven to eat something hot in cold weather. Its life changing maybe even life-saving stuff.
The kindness that people have shown in this group is quite overwhelming. How does this keep you going and motivate you to keep doing this great work?
Julie: We get loads from doing our bit. It is a gift to be in a position to help. Kindness is always a reward in itself and we hear from our members just how important it is to them. We send out a weekly update so people always know who they’ve helped and how. It is something people look forward to receiving. Knowing that the £1 they’re gifting, together with others, is lifting someone up. It’s a privileged position to hear how our gifts make a difference. Long may it continue.
If you want to help Julie and Chris support more people via 500 Acts of Kindness, here’s how you can get involved:
- Please set up a STANDING ORDER/REGULAR PAYMENT (not direct debit) of £1 (more if you wish) every Monday payable to:
500 Acts of Kindness
Acc no: 40214583
- Please email the group to let them know at [email protected]
- If you have a nomination for support (and you are a member) please email[email protected]
Please note that only nominations (received from members who contribute to the fund) will be considered.
For more information or to contact them:
Email (monitored weekly): [email protected]
Visit the page on Facebook. 500 Acts of Kindness