Thursday, 27 March 2014

Week 13 - sickness strikes again

This past week, I have been suffering with a rather nasty chesty cough, which has left me unable to sleep properly, headaches from coughing and have also vomited a couple of times too due to how aggressive it has been. And still did over-time at work so that I would have extra funds to help more causes as we progress through out the year.

I have been working on a few things to round the month out, which you can see above this post in the first infograph for project52.

For this week, as I am not well enough to go out to attempt anything big, I'll be repeating a previous activity and buying copies of the big issue instead.

Facebook followers of Project52 will also know that I am going to hold a raffle for the readers and followers of Project52ayear. When the scores hit 50 email subscribers, those 50 people will go into a small raffle to win items purchased by myself from some of the charities and groups featured on Project52. A brick for the Barnabus buy a brick appeal will also be purchased in the winner's name(s) This raffle will also be held again between the facebook fans of Project52 when the page hits 250 likes and again at 500 likes.

If you would like to visit the facebook page for updates and previews of up coming features on Project52, you can find it here:

Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Spotlight on.... The Foxton Centre

The Foxton Centre, based in Preston, UK is a very special organisation indeed. They run projects and programs aimed at helping children and teens in the community; teaching new skills to those who are at risk; outreach projects, known as Streetlink, for street sex workers (something that many groups who aim to help those on the street shy away from) and finally drop in centre for the homeless, skills workshops for the homeless and a mentoring scheme to help ensure those sleeping rough can develop the means to get themselves out of that cycle and stay out of it, for good. Simply just these actions alone make The Foxton Centre and the work they do worth highlighting and celebrating for creating real positive change for the people who live and work in the town of Preston.

I interviewed Shirah Bamber, who works in marketing and communications at The Foxton Centre for more information on the work done by the staff and volunteers at The Foxton Centre.

With thanks to Ms. Bamber

As March is 'help the homeless' month over at Project52, could you describe what services The Foxton Centre offers in aid or support of the homeless?

The Foxton Centre offers various services to homeless & vulnerably housed adults. Our largest project, Community Café, provides a hot meal for £1 (although vouchers are provided for people who are rough sleeping), shower, laundry, telephone and IT facilities, as well as social activities and a high level of support from our team of Community Social Workers.  Through the Café we provided 3004 meals in 2013.

We are currently running a campaign called Hungry which allows patrons in local cafés Ravenous & Café Fresch to donate £1 and purchase a meal for a homeless person. This campaign has been running since July 2013 and has already provided over 700 meals.

Other Projects provided for rough sleepers & vulnerably housed adults:
Our Wet Garden, has been developed to break down barriers when working with established street drinkers
 The Assertive Outreach Team ( go out a number of times a week during the day & fortnightly in the wee hours of the morning.

Finally, our GreenFingers Allotment Project has been developed by a team of volunteers & service users to develop life skills, encourage community involvement and improve health and well being.

It currently costs us £2000 per week to provide these services.

The Foxton Centre has existed in Preston for over 40 years. During this time it will have seen many changes to the services it offers and the lives of those who make use of The Foxton Centre. At present the centre has several projects in the running including Safelink, which is aimed at supporting at risk young people, StreetLink, which offers support to street sex workers, and Amity befriending, which offers support to the presently or former homeless. Are there any plans to add to the current list of projects run by The Foxton Centre?  

We increase our projects as the needs present themselves. Just last year we saw a 23% increase in the number of service users attending the Community Café, which caused us to develop the Hungry campaign. We increased our projects from 10 to 13 in the last 12 months and are currently working at capacity.

In the document "Street Sex Workers in Preston: An Evidence-Based Study" It was suggested that a Foxton Centre Charity shop could be set up to help those who take part in the StreetLink project to gain current work experience and to raise self-esteem amongst the workers. Have there been any further developments on this idea or is it still at proposal stage? 

At present it is only an idea. As with many ideas they can take a long time to come into fruition through the simple reality that we are incredibly busy with the projects and service user base we are already working with and taking on a shop would be a large commitment of time and resources.
The study can be found at:

The Foxton Centre [appears to] rely on a mixture of public donations, local business support for the free meal voucher schemes and national lottery funding besides making use of physical object donations. As we're now in Spring and heading into summer, does the list of requested physical donated items change at all with the seasons?

You are right, we are funded through a mixture of funding bodies (including the Big Lottery, but also Comic Relief, Children in Need, Esme Fairhurst, to name just a few) and local donations of money and supplies.

There are some requirements that stay the same all year round, such as toiletry items (soap, shampoo, disposable razors, etc) and others change with the seasons (ie. Sunscreen, winter coats, etc).

As we go further into 2014 are there any changes you hope to see at The Foxton Centre, whether that is an increase in projects or services offered, or an increase in public donations and support of The Foxton Centre itself... what would those be?

This year my personal goal at The Foxton Centre is to develop formal partnerships with local businesses. We began 2014 with a strong new partnership with Magma Digital and hope that the year will continue as it began!

We are also getting ready to host our 2nd Annual Evening Fundraiser at St. John, The Minster (on Church Street), which is an evening of live entertainment, 2 course meal and complimentary glass of wine for £25, and hope that this year we will attract a wider audience of supporters.

And finally, is there anything you would like to ask of the readers of this interview to do in the future, either towards those who attend The Foxton Centre or vulnerable individuals at large in the world?  

There are so many ways to help vulnerable people, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. We try to make it easy for you, and I’m certain that charities in other areas would be happy to discuss potential ideas if you live elsewhere. What can seem like a little thing to you can make such a difference in someone’s life.

Some of the ways people like to get involved with us is through donating to our Hungry campaign, donating an hour or two of expertise, becoming a regular (or occasional!) volunteer, attending our fundraising events or organizing an office fundraiser such as a bake sale, or casual day. It doesn’t need to be big or complicated to have an impact.

Thank you to Shirah for taking part in the interview and thank you to all of the staff and volunteers at The Foxton Centre for all your hard work, time and dedication from myself and on behalf of the readers of Project52 blog. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Week 12 - Feeling lost and a few updates

Hi everyone!

Those of you who caught last week's post will know I was planning to collect or buy gloves / scarfs / hats and snack bars to give out to those who needed it.  Well, I went through my drawers and couldn't find any suitable items, so I went to my local pound shop and brought the last 3 pairs of gloves they had, grabbed some snack bars (I keep a big box of them for snacking on the go as vegan options can be short on the ground in some areas) and off I went.

 After the first two attempts were a complete shambles - I gave one pair and a snack bar to one man, who was begging, said "thought you might like these". He then swore at me, calling me a "stingy b*tch" for not giving him money!  My second attempt was with another man, who didn't say anything to me, so I walked away a short distance, then turned around, only to see that he had tossed them aside. They were still there on the ground two hours later when the man had left his spot. Due to this, I donated the last pair to a local charity shop. They were plain black/grey fleece - not exactly offensive or childish colours. I rather suspect that both men I approached were either on the street due to drug/drink issues, or more shamefully still, not actually homeless at all. I recall an article from recent years that said buskers and the homeless who beg in busy areas, such as the London Underground (Tube) can receive up to £10 an hour in cash donated to them by members of the public, which could make 'pretending' to be homeless very appealing as £10 is much more than I earn in an hour.

I think in future I will stick to buying copies of 'the big issue', make small change donations (although this carries the risk of funding habits) or will verbally offer a drink or item and see how somebody responds before I do anything.

Recently, I have been in touch with a woman named Carol, who works for Barnabus, a homeless charity based in Manchester. They are currently fundraising for expansion of their facilities, with a 'buy a brick' scheme for £5 a brick. For this week's activity, I will be purchasing one of these bricks. If any readers are interested in taking part in this, more information on Barnabus can be found at:  or to buy a brick yourselves, please visit: 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Week 11: Following a positive example!

Hi everyone!

Sorry this week's post is a little later than usual, I appear to have a stomach bug at the moment, but as long as I can walk and talk, that's no excuse not to carry on regardless!

This week I'll be hunting through my drawers to find all the gloves and scarves I no longer need, (or buy new if I can't find any) and will be giving them out along with a snack bar to anybody I see who may need them. Chances are I'll run out quickly, due to low funds, but to paraphrase one UK supermarket chain, I am a firm believer that "Every Little Helps"

Spotlight on.... I Have A Name.Org

For this spotlight feature, I spoke to Jon Linton, founder and chief photographer of, a small not-for-profit organization, based in Phoenix, Arizona, aimed at reminding society at large that those who are homeless or displaced are not invisible, that they should still be counted and that they  are a somebody, not a nobody, that they do have a name. 

How did first start and why did you want to get involved? 

In September of 2007 I began gathering imagery to document the homeless on the streets of Phoenix Arizona. That Fall I had volunteered both time and resource at a local homeless shelter to better understand the circumstance and plight of those without a place to call home. The project took shape, when the first man I photographed wept as I asked his name, “You have no idea how long it has been since someone cared to ask my name”, he stated. 

The IHAVEANAME Project has a photography exhibition as part of it's awareness strategy. Have you struggled to find willing subjects for the photography exhibition and subsequent book of IHAVEANAME photography? 

Sadly, responsive to this country's recent 'Great Recession' our city streets have far too many folks that find themselves in need. Subject to that consideration, we have had little trouble finding conversations and those that are willing to share their troubled accounts. 

Has IHAVEANAME made a positive change in people's attitudes towards the homeless in the area you operate within? 

The I Have a Name Project has a stream of positive threads from right here in our own backyard to as far away as Alaska, Australia, to little hamlets in Canada and from many people in the U.K as well. The responses have been both intricate in detail or as concise and poignant to simply suggest a thank you for the way in which the individual now views the homeless. 

Do you have any success stories as a result of the actions of 

A story that quickly comes to kind is that of a mother who reached out around Thanksgiving here in the States and wanted me to know that a conversation I shared with her heroin addicted son left him inspired enough to seek sobriety and return home. If the Project accomplishes nothing else of measured meaning, this is enough!

What are the plans for Do you plan to branch out across the pond or to other states within the US? 

We are currently working with Grant Writers to secure funding that shall allow the Project to travel into different cities across our country. No plans are in place to travel beyond the boundaries of our expansive country. Those aspirations while interesting are more lofty than I am afraid reasonable.

How can readers of Project52 get involved with supporting 

Readers of Project 52 might simply be kind enough the visit our Facebook page and share our content. We are not a campaign that is in the public domain to raise monies but rather consciousness.

Finally, if there was anything you could say to the politicians and governments of the world, what would that be?  

I would ask that those countries like our own that spend large amounts of dollars to wage unneeded wars to reaccess  public policy and begin to take care of its' peoples that are in need! 

Thank You to Jon Linton at 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spotlight on... The H.O.P.E project

As March is help the homeless [people] month here at project52, today's spotlight Q&A is with Colin from The H.O.P.E Project, in Liverpool, UK

The H.O.P.E Project [Helping Other People Exist] is a small group aimed at providing subsistence for the homeless people of Liverpool, UK.  In Colin's own words, "I set the project up ten months ago, with a flask and a sandwich" Feb 2014.

Founded in May, 2013, The H.O.P.E Project are a small group of volunteers who go out into Liverpool city centre, several nights a week between 9.30pm and 11.30pm. They go out in groups of three people and follow a regular route, to distribute hot drinks and sandwiches/snacks to those who are sleeping rough.

When was the H.O.P.E project set up and what made you want to start it? 
Set the project up 10 months ago, [May 2013] set it up because I want to make a difference in the world and show love.

As the H.O.P.E project is a not-for-profit unregistered charity group, how do you raise awareness for what you do?  
I gain awareness and donation through public media

Has the H.O.P.E project made any successful changes in the area it operates in?
We are out six nights a week , each night we have three different people out, that's eighteen people making a difference from the community. All our donations come from social media groups, this means the kind people of Merseyside are making positive changes too .We give out twenty-five sandwiches , hot drinks, chocolate, crisps, hats and gloves. We must easily make a difference to 70 different people on the streets each week. Since our project started, a group in Warrington have started the Warrington hope project, it has also traveled to Barcelona as a result of the guys over there seeing our Facebook journals. 

Homelessness is a major topic of debate in the UK today, what extra steps (that are not currently in place) do you feel should be taken to reduce homelessness in the city? 
Liverpool needs a night shelter open all year round

The H.O.P.E project does not take any cash/monetary donations and instead asks for the donations of food/clothing/goods via their Facebook page. How does the H.O.P.E project use these items? 
Everything donated gets a picture taken [of it] and put on Facebook, then it gets split up and shared for all the teams who go [out] and give it to the guys on the street.

Finally, if there was anything you would like to say to the readers of Project52, what would that be? 
Our aim is to show love to someone who needs it. I want to say to the readers that they too can make a difference by buying a cup of tea and a sandwich and passing it to a homeless person. 

Thank you to Colin and all at The H.O.P.E Project, Liverpool from myself and the readers of Project52. 

To help support or donate items to the H.O.P.E Project, visit their Facebook page,

Q&A conducted February 2014 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Week 10 - homeless support

We're now in week 10 of Project52 and in March, which is Help the Homeless month here at project52ayear.

This week I'll be tipping my local big issue sellers when I buy copies and continuing research for this month's theme

-Update- for those who have been following my earlier posts, another auction I took part in raised over 200 euros for a small, private cat rescue group. There will be more through out the year

2nd Update - The H.O.P.E Project, Liverpool (who are this week's Spotlight) are having a two day fundraiser and music festival this weekend, 8th-9th March 2014

Details here:

Saturday, 1 March 2014

March - Help the Homeless (People)

March - Help the homeless

  • Now, I know in many areas you will pass homeless people in the street, sleeping in doorways, begging or busking, some may have a dog with them, others may have a cat, and I have even met one man who had a rabbit as his companion. Some will have ended up on the streets due to a rough childhood, others may have had one bad thing after another which has lead them into a down-ward spiral until they have hit the rock bottom which is where they are now. Others may have drug or alcohol issues or mental health issues, and sadly some of them may not even be homeless at all and are there to make money off the good will of others instead of going to work... but let's ignore the poser scum and focus on the genuine homeless.   

  • In the cases of those with drug or alcohol issues, there is the concern that if you donate money to them, it may be used to buy those things instead of it being spent on what they truly need. 

  •  Ideas to help:
  • If you have any spare (clean) hats, gloves, scarves that you no longer need, please consider giving them to the next homeless person you pass, they might help keep them warmer at night. 
  • Unfortunately, the homeless can also be victims of muggings and rape, so if you can afford to, consider making up a safety kit with items such as a whistle, attack alarm, pepper spray inside it to give to females and males alike. It could make a difference and help them to escape or get aid in those situations. 
  • Hygiene can also be an issue as those without shelter access won't be able to get to running water, so consider next time you're buying a packet of tissues, hand sanitizer gel, plasters (pre-cut sizes) or antiseptic wipes, buy doubles and give the spares away. 
  • If you see a homeless person with a companion animal, consider buying a small box of dried food, bottled water or a toy / treat for that animal. Pets (or Companion animals) can also be victims of homelessness and items for the companion animal will be appreciated. 
  • In some areas of America (I have not yet seen this scheme rolled out here) you can ask for a 'suspended' cup of tea or coffee in the coffee shops (coffee houses?)- this is a 2nd cup of tea or coffee kept on tab, paid for by you, but is then given to anybody who requests one. I don't have more info on this scheme but would love to know how it works exactly. ~ alternatively, if you are stopping off for coffee somewhere, consider buying a cup to go when you leave and give this to anybody who you think will need it. 

  • If you belong to a church or religious group, you may want to consider applying with your church* group to your vicar / priest / pastor / other leader (as appropriate) for permission to turn the main hall into overnight shelter. Places where this scheme has worked have run it in teams / shifts where all who use it have to arrive between 9 - 10.30 pm and leave at 7 am. Drugs, alcohol and sex is banned. The hall is then split into single sex areas where those who stay may have tea, coffee, sandwiches (or other hot food if provided by the church* group) they would then bed down for the night on their own sleeping bags (if they have them) or make-shift beds using donated items such as camp beds, fold away mattress etc. As this is a long term aid suggestion it may get costly so you would need a strong team who are prepared to donate food/drink or bedding supplies on a regular basis as well as take turns in shifts as it can be time demanding as over night supervision would be needed for security.  I have known of such schemes to only take place at certain times of year, for example winter only, Christmas week only, or on state holidays only. *this could also be a mosque, synagogue, meeting house, kingdom hall, other building or worship and of course the members of that location. 

  • And if helping set up a make-shift shelter isn't for you - consider helping out a local shelter instead! Many of the year round established shelters are run off donations, and requests for goods are common, typical items wanted are: New knickers / boxers (various sizes - factory sealed only) socks (New only) clean jumpers, clean t-shirts, shampoo / shower gel, toothpaste / tooth brushes, deodorant, blankets, bedding items can all be used by them. so dig out those toiletry sets that you got for Christmas but never used. Bare in mind that some of these items can be purchased for as low as 50p / $1 in the supermarket so it need not be heavy on your wallet. 

  • A final way to help, and this might not be available world-wide, but it is in most areas of the UK, is buy copies of THE BIG ISSUE. For those not in the know, The Big Issue is a charity magazine published on a weekly / fortnightly basis and is sold by street vendors. The street vendors are in fact homeless, and the magazine sales help generate an income for them, gain work experience so that they may then go on to get a fixed address and a bank account. Most banks will not give an account unless you have a fixed address, and you cannot get a full job without an account, so it helps them to help themselves get out of their current situation. For my area, the north-west, it is known as 'The Big Issue in the North' but it is also run in other areas, see London office, for more information. I will be buying copies myself on a regular basis through out the year, but am also hoping to do a spot-light on The Big Issue in the North at some point in March. More details to follow as the month progresses.