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Here’s how a small charity like MASH makes a big difference – and how you can help

MASH, the Manchester Action on Street Women's Health charity, faces an alarming surge in demand as women grapple with financial hardship, hunger, and hygiene poverty.
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A concerning surge in women seeking support amid severe financial hardship, hunger, and hygiene poverty has been reported by MASH.

MASH, which stands for “Manchester Action on Street Health,” is an outstanding charity that has been dedicated to providing vital support and services to vulnerable women in Greater Manchester for over 25 years.

The organisation is known for its commitment to improving the lives of women involved in sex work and those facing multiple challenges, including homelessness, mental health issues, violence, and extreme financial hardship.

The organisation, which aids women involved in sex work and those facing challenges like homelessness, mental health issues, and violence, is reaching out to the community for assistance.

MASH Charity Witnesses Alarming Increase in Women Seeking Aid

MASH CEO Annie Emery highlights the compounding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, reductions in essential services, the severe housing shortage, and the cost of living crisis, which are pushing more women in Greater Manchester to the brink of survival.

In the past year, MASH faced one of its busiest periods, providing support to 609 women in Greater Manchester.

This marks a 16 per cent increase from the previous year, with over half of these women being new to MASH.

Many of them turned to sex work for the first time or returned to it after a prolonged hiatus.

Impact of Covid-19, Service Cuts, Housing Shortages, and Cost of Living Crisis

In response to the growing demand, MASH established an emergency hardship fund during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, initially intended as a temporary measure but now continued due to increased need.

The emergency fund assists women in covering the costs of critical items, such as travel passes for medical appointments, pyjamas and slippers for hospital stays, and mobile phone credit for safety and communication with support workers.

MASH’s Record Year: Support for 609 Women and a Growing Challenge

In the previous year, 231 women in Greater Manchester accessed hardship support from MASH, including the emergency fund.

Voices from the Community: How the Fund Changes Lives

One recipient of the fund, who needed passport photos, expressed, “I’ve got bad asthma and DVT and I can’t walk far.

“I qualify for a concessionary bus pass but I need a photo for the application.

“I don’t have any money to get these done. Getting this sorted will be a game changer because I won’t have to rely on my MASH worker to get me to appointments.”

MASH’s Plea for Support: Urgent Fundraising Appeal Launches

Annie Emery, CEO at MASH, expressed her concern, stating, “It is really concerning to see how the compounding effects of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, and cuts to help and support are pushing so many women to the brink of survival.”

She continued, “Living in a constant state of high alert with no safety net or stable place to live is wreaking havoc on people’s mental and physical health.

“There is huge pressure on expert support services and housing, leaving lots of women in limbo.

“Some are waiting weeks and months for backdated benefits payments with no money to survive on in the meantime.”

MASH is a local charity, sustained by the generosity of individuals.

They are set to launch an urgent fundraising appeal to assist women in Greater Manchester facing crises.

The Big Give Woman and Girls Appeal

MASH is participating in The Big Give Women and Girls appeal, which will run from October 11th to 18th.

During this time, donations made via a specific link will be match-funded and doubled, allowing one donation to have twice the impact.

“If you are in a position to, please donate to MASH during our appeal so we can continue to be here for women who are really struggling right now,” Annie Emery implored.

The charity is also seeking more volunteers and appealing for food and ingredient donations to ensure they can provide nutritious hot meals in their drop-in centre for women throughout the week.

Annie added, “If there are organisations in Greater Manchester that can help with donating food or volunteering regular hours for cooking and food prep, we would love to hear from you. T

“his support will make a massive difference to women.”

MASH’s work encompasses several crucial aspects:

1. Support for Vulnerable Women: MASH offers a wide range of support services, including a drop-in centre, support workers, a nurse clinic, and an outreach van that provides street-based support late at night. These services aim to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for women in need.

2. Emergency Hardship Fund: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing demand for urgent assistance, MASH established an emergency hardship fund. This fund helps women cover the costs of essential items, such as travel passes for medical appointments, clothing, hygiene essentials, and mobile phone credit for communication with support workers.

3. Record Year of Assistance: MASH’s recent efforts have been particularly notable, as they experienced one of their busiest years, providing support to 609 women in Greater Manchester, marking a 16 per cent increase from the previous year.

More than half of these women were newcomers to MASH, highlighting the escalating need for their services.

4. Advocacy and Awareness: Beyond direct support, MASH is actively involved in advocating for the rights and well-being of vulnerable women in Greater Manchester. The charity works to raise awareness of the challenges these women face and the social factors that contribute to their difficulties.

5. Community Outreach: MASH continually seeks the support and involvement of the local community. They not only provide assistance but also encourage volunteers and donations of food and ingredients to ensure that women visiting their drop-in centre have access to nutritious meals throughout the week.

You can donate to MASH by clicking here

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