If you live in the city, you’re most likely a person who sees homelessness every day. Most of the time, people are so busy with their own lives that they don’t take a moment to help those in need. Those experiencing homelessness tend to be ignored more often than not when people walk by. However, there’s an organization known as Don’t Walk Past in Manchester, England that’s changing the homeless community. These volunteers just recently helped an elderly homeless woman get back on her feet with love and support.
Who Is The Elderly Homeless Woman?
The story takes place on the busy Market Street of Manchester. An elderly homeless woman was reportedly seen sleeping in a duvet on the sidewalk. With barely anything to cover her, she was obviously cold with how much the woman was shivering. Matthew Hudson, a volunteer for Don’t Walk Past, was handing out hot meals to the local homeless with fellow volunteers. Don’t Walk Past does this at least several times a week for the homeless community of Manchester. However, on Tuesday, Oct. 27th, Hudson saw the homeless woman shivering on the sidewalk and sat next to her. The woman struggled to place herself upright on her tarpaulin, as she tries to converse with Hudson. (1)
The mystery of how this poor old woman got here in the first place leaves many wondering. Nobody has any information as to where she came from, who she is, what she was doing, and how she became homeless. Unfortunately, this is a matter of time as well. The nights continue to get colder and wetter as time passes by. The volunteers worked tirelessly with her even if she was unsure of herself, scared, and cold.
Lauren Jones, a volunteer for Don’t Walk Past, said that the elderly homeless woman was very confused. Despite offering the shivering woman help, it’s entirely up to her whether she takes it or not. Eventually, they just gave her a card she can use to call them if she ends up changing her mind.
“People have said ‘she can stay with me’, but it’s not as simple as that. We went home and it played on our minds even more. We left at midnight and it was cold and wet. She was still out there.” Jones explains. (1)
Searching for answers, the volunteers decided to post a picture of the elderly homeless woman on their social media. The heart-wrenching image resonated deeply with many of the locals in the area. People started donating almost immediately to help her find a new place to live.
“I posted that picture on Facebook and it went viral. The picture was really shocking. It broke my heart. I knew it was distressing yet powerful, but I didn’t realize how many people would be touched by it.” Jones continues to explain. (1)
Don’t Walk Past made the ultimate decision to alert the council about the elderly woman. Jones and a handful of other volunteers went back to look for the elderly homeless woman on Wednesday. In addition, the townhall sent outreach teams to look for her as well. Now with some new information, the woman is in her 60’s and she’s been homeless for about a week.
Relocating The Elderly Homeless Woman
The entirety of the Manchester community was searching high and low for this elderly homeless woman. Desperately trying to find her to make sure that nothing horrible has happened.
“We are working to find her as a priority so she can be found accommodation and offered all the support at our disposal,” the council claims at about 5pm.
Finally, Jones finds her shortly after that announcement. The elderly homeless woman was cold, scared, and just as confused as before. Apparently, she had been uprooted from her prior location to Piccadilly Gardens. Not extremely far away, but definitely far enough.
“It was scary for her, there were lots of noises. She said it was like ‘Armageddon’. We’re still trying to find out what happened to her, how she ended up on the streets.” Jones states on the matter. However, this time they equipped the elderly homeless woman with a new phone and a new SIM card. “We can’t force anybody to do anything. It’s about gaining trust – we’re here if she needs us.” She further explains.
Jones had initially offered the elderly homeless woman a place in accommodation outside the city center. However, she wasn’t comfortable with this choice. The team ended up paying for a hotel room for her to live in for a few days as to give her enough space.
Don’t Walk Past
It’s all about a matter of consent. Organizations such as Don’t Walk Past can’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to. It has to be up to the homeless elderly woman’s own volition to seek help. Many organizations that deal with the homeless have similar rules. People can call these organizations instead of the police which is why they exist. To help those in need that have no other resources available to them. They can make it easier for homeless people to live but it’s still up to them to take the next step.
“We will always do everything in our power to support people in need and I now hope this woman gets all the help she needs to prevent her from ever having to sleep rough again.” States a Manchester council spokesman.
Don’t Walk Past consists of about 4,300 members and was founded by Ronny English. The creation of this organization started when English saw a man sitting in his wheelchair in the freezing rain. Ever since, him and many others are doing their part to fight against homelessness in Manchester. Consistently providing the homeless community of Manchester by offering resources to those in desperate need.
“It all started from there – a few people from Salford wanting to give back. People are only a few lost paydays away from being in that position. Our message is clear – if you have the capacity to do something to help, stop walking and do it. Don’t walk past.” (1)