A social enterprise helping people who have experienced homelessness is holding a vigil to honour those who have lost their lives on the streets during the pandemic.
Invisible Cities is hosting the event in Manchester in partnership with Shelter on Thursday 9th December, providing a poignant opportunity for the community to unite.
Speakers from Invisible (Manchester) and Shelter will share poetry and messages from the heart before the launch of an extraordinary photography book by Cristina Mallai, chronicling the impact of COVID-19 on people experiencing homelessness in the city.
Invisible Cities trains people who have previously experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city and the book, Seeing Things Differently in Manchester, was created in collaboration with three of Invisible Cities’ award-winning tour guides, Danny, Ste and Mooch under the direction of artist Cristina Mallai.
The volume of images shines a light on the effects of the pandemic through the eyes of those with the lived experience of homelessness in the city.
“The number of people without a roof over their head has rocketed in the UK,” says Zakia Moulaoui Guery, CEO and founder of Invisible Cities.
“According to figures that we’ve been highlighting from the Dying Homeless Project, in the first six months of 2019 someone affected by homelessness was dying every 19 hours.
“And last year 976 people across the UK died while homeless, that’s a 37% increase on 2019.
“Although only 3% of these were caused by COVID-19, the pandemic has had a devastating effect on those on the streets.
“A third of the deaths were related to drug and alcohol and 15% were suicides.
“The vigil is an important opportunity for the community, our supporters, service users and Manchester businesses to come together to pay our respects and support one another.”
Fabienne Clough, regional community fundraiser – Manchester and Greater Manchester for Shelter, says: “Shelter exist to defend the right to a safe home.
“We are fighting to end the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and our communities.
“Home is a human right. Yet, every day millions of people are being devastated by the housing emergency.
“Our work supports the people of Greater Manchester to ensure anyone can access the help and support they need to secure housing both in the immediate and long-term.
“But that isn’t enough. There is simply not enough affordable housing for everyone in Manchester and therefore we must work together as a community to ask the government to build more affordable homes so that everyone has a safe place to sleep at night.
“We are grateful to Cristina and our many passionate supporter for projects like this one which highlight the devastating impact of homelessness and amplify our voices in the fight for home.”
The event, from 6-8pm on Thursday 9th December, will take place at the Foundation Coffee House, Sevendale House, Lever Street. All are welcome and food and drinks will be available on a “pay what you can” basis with all proceeds going to support those affected by homelessness. To register to join, click here.