Manchester homelessness charity Coffee4Craig issues urgent appeal for help as it hits financial crisis

The charity says it has grown to a size and position which makes it hard to apply for financial grants and has also faced spiralling bills due to the cost of living crisis.

A Manchester homelessness charity has launched an urgent public appeal to help it survive after hitting severe financial trouble.

Coffee4Craig issued a desperate plea for assistance, saying a combination of the cost of living crisis, funding cuts, the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing financial climate of austerity had reduced it to dire straits.

The charity says it needs to find either around £18,000 a month or get £60,000 in its bank account to be able to keep going.

Coffee4Craig says it has also hit trouble at the worst-possible time as it predicts a surge in people needing help and not being able to keep a roof over their heads this autumn and winter.

Manchester City Council says it wants to meet the organisation urgently to help it find a way forward.

Coffee4Craig is appealing for urgent public help to survive after hitting financial trouble

What has Coffee4Craig said about its financial position?

As it approaches its 10th anniversary Coffee4Craig says it is facing a major financial crisis and warned there is a possibility that the charity will not survive if it does not get a cash boost from somewhere.

Four staff members have already opted for voluntary redundancy and continuing to help as volunteers to help reduce the charity’s bills.

Coffee4Craig is also hoping it will be able to keep the rest of its staffing team and is also working hard to maintain the evening drop-in service it runs seven days a week at its base on Great Ducie Street.

However, if its financial difficulties continue it is having to consider further cutbacks, such as only opening its doors to rough sleepers at weekends, reducing its ability to help some of Machet

Risha said: “We’re having to scale right back. We will keep the drop-ins going until the bitter end. If it ends up as me and Hendrix running it seven days a week we will do it.”

Why has the charity found itself in such difficulties?

Coffee4Craig says a whole range of factors lie behind its current financial predicament.

One issue is that as the charity has grown it is no longer eligible for the small grants which are offered to start-up and grassroots concerns but has not reached the size where it can apply for larger pots of money.

It is also facing the effects of the cost of living crisis, with Risha saying food bills have doubled almost overnight and the charity’s monthly running costs have risen by around £10,000.

In addition, Coffee4Craig said that as more people have found it harder to pay their bills money coming in from donations has dwindled significantly, with people no longer able to afford to support them on a monthly basis.

What would the impact of Coffee4Craig shutting down be?

Coffee4Craig says it provides a vital service as it opens in the evening, providing people without permanent accommodation of their own hot food and drinks during that time.

Risha says the current grim economic outlook means more people are coming through the doors and she expected this to get worse over the coming months.

She said: “If we were to close, 60 vulnerable people per evening would simply have nowhere to go to. Coffee4Craig is more than just a meal, we keep people safe from the dangers of being street homeless, even if it is only for a short while.

“Closing would mean no respite out-of-hours for people sleeping on the street, no safe space for people in crisis, no way for potentially ongoing and harmful situations to be monitored, no guidance for people new to the streets and no referring to us in the evenings and especially during cold weather.

Risha Lancaster

People will go to other charities during the day while they try to get them into accommodation but quite often the decision won’t come back until 6pm to 8pm so they will come to us to wait. We will take over and ensure they’ve got a safe place for the night.

“In July, we had 258 new people come to our service. A lot of them have never faced anything like this before.

“We’ve spent a lot of money on hotels, getting people who should never have been on the streets in there. Those people would have just disappeared if we hadn’t helped them. There are a lot of people going under the radar.”

What support is Coffee4Craig asking for?

Coffee4Craig is hoping to drum up public support and raise awareness of its current position and is asking people to share its statements and talk online about how the charity has either helped them or other people.

The charity is also asking for support to cover the costs of individual items it needs each month on a sponsorship basis.

This ranges from £97 a month for blue cleaning roll and £32 per month for toilet roll through to £45 per month on cleaning products and assistance with the charity’s £1,200 monthly food bill.

The charity is also speaking to Manchester City Council about its current plight.

A spokesperson for the council said: “We recognise the hard work that Coffee4Craig does as part of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership to provide support to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“The council already works closely with them and pays them to provide services. We are arranging to meet with them as soon as possible to discuss their position and help identify potential sources of funding.”