Following on from #GivingTuesday last week and with the wellbeing spotlight still on ‘Give’ we wanted to focus on the impact that giving can have. For some of our Manchester alumni what started off as volunteering and giving their time turned into not only a Career but a passion for making a difference right here in Manchester.
Alice Sparks, a Politics and Modern History graduate founded Invisible Manchester – a social enterprise that trains people who have been affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides. The aim is to share real stories of homelessness to raise public awareness about what it actually means to be homeless and to equip the tour guides with valuable skills.
“We set out to debunk the stigmas, stereotypes and barriers that exist surrounding the homeless population of Manchester. We have had almost 100 people come on the tour to date. These people have both laughed and cried, but most importantly come away with a completely transformed understanding of how they should view people on the streets.
One tour customer said “Coming away from Danny’s tour presented me with a whole new way of approaching a person who is homeless. All I wanted to do was give anyone on the streets a huge hug and chat to them about their lives and how they are (and how great Danny is).”
For Danny our tour guide he has been given a platform to tell his story and his aim is to create public awareness around homelessness and he is doing the most excellent job at it and loving it.
On top of that as we are a social enterprise, our profits get refuelled to support homeless initiatives or community projects. We have donated £100 of our profits to winter provisions for the homeless, and we are also in process of publishing a book of our tour guide’s poetry that is read throughout the tour.
The impact it’s had on me has been overwhelming; waking up to phone calls from Guardian journalists and BBC reporters, being flown to Egypt for a conference, being invited to sit on panel discussions with five men all 30 years my senior and the list continues. I am genuinely astonished every day as I watch the success of Invisible Manchester unfold right before me!”
Despite Invisible Manchester now being a full time job, Alice doesn’t think of it like this.
“I have never felt like I am ‘giving up’ my time, instead I see it as doing something I absolutely love. I have found something I care so much about and feel so incredibly lucky that this mad idea has somehow worked.
Giving does not have to big, the smallest act will make a difference. Stopping on the street and having a chat to have a chat with someone is enough.”
Love for the Streets
Another Manchester alumni whose volunteering transformed into something unexpected was Jonah Ogbuneke who set up Love for the Streets. Jonah explains “Love for the Streets began as a student campaign to tackle homelessness, focused on inspiring the student community to volunteer with local homeless charities. Since then, it has been incorporated as a Community Interest Company (CIC) i.e. a social enterprise.
Now it’s a Social Change Communications Agency, specialising in purpose-driven student marketing that inspires action. We’ve continued to develop our volunteering services and will be launching a pilot programme for these after the New Year.
Our charitable purpose is the advancement of citizenship and community development, through the promotion of volunteering. Therefore, one of the key groups that benefit from our activities are the students who take part in the volunteering themselves.”
One such student (now Chemistry graduate) was Roxann Federici who began volunteering as an Events Manager.
“The most obvious way we have made a positive impact has of course been raising funds for essential services and supplies and introducing new volunteers to local charities. On the other hand, we have also had a positive impact on the local community of creatives with new party collectives popping up every year. It has been wonderful to see a spike in parties for a purpose.… Organising charity events has become an important platform for up-and-coming creatives to get their name out there- as well as it being a very fun and natural way for young people to fund raise.”
Being involved in LFTS has been the best thing I have ever done. It has inspired me – to put it frankly – to stop being a wasteman and go on to do something good. As a student I had a lot of free time on my hands so I spent a lot of it going out, but I knew I needed make a change to my lifestyle and go do something useful and give back to my community. Working with LFTS has given me a sense of purpose and encouraged me to pursue my creative interests. It has introduced me to a huge pool of other young people who also shared the same passions and interests.
Knowing I am making a difference has encouraged me to get involved in other community projects such as Funraising. … I am very grateful for every opportunity that LFTS has opened up to me and am very excited about my future as part of the team.
I think giving back is very important and is both a civil and a moral duty we all have. I think overall, giving back is very rewarding in itself and spreading positive energy means you’re able to lead a very positive life. The only way I see myself being truly happy is by doing good for the sake of good- as long as that is my main goal in life I will always be happy.”
To find out more about giving, volunteering and the six ways to wellbeing have a look at the web pages.
To discover more stories on alumni and how alumni giving supports the University visit the Manchester Giving blog.