Manchester homelessness charity Coffee4Craig needs help to raise £20,000 for a new kitchen

The charity urgently needs to upgrade its facilities to be able to continue offering hot meals and drinks in the evenings to those sleeping rough in Manchester.

A Manchester homelessness charity is turning to the generosity of the public in its bid to raise £20,000 for a new kitchen at its base.

Coffee4Craig has launched the fund-raiser to upgrade the facilities at its base on Great Ducie Street near Strangeways.

The charity, which has been going for eight and a half years, offers support to those sleeping rough seven nights a week and provides hot food and drinks in the evenings.

Coffee4Craig’s founder Risha Lancaster also told ManchesterWorld about the tragic family story that led to the organisation being originally set up.

Why is Coffee4Craig fund-raising for a new kitchen?

Coffee4Craig says it desperately needs to upgrade its kitchen facilities and is campaigning for the £20,000 it needs under the More Than A Meal appeal.

The charity moved into the Great Ducie Street location in February 2020, just before the country was plunged into the first Covid-19 lockdown, and installed a domestic kitchen in it.

Unfortunately this now needs replacing with a commercial kitchen as they have gone through four domestic oven, which have cost a four-figure sum to replace, and there are major problems with the boiler.

Coffee4Craig is fund-raising for a new kitchen to be able to continue providing hot meals for rough sleepers

The charity wants the refurbishment to include commercial ovens, industrial-standard sinks, under-counter refrigeration, as well a proper extraction system.

Coffee4Craig founder Risha said: “We need an industrial kitchen to meet the needs of our clients. This is our big campaign at the moment.”

The charity has currently raised more than £13,000 towards its total and hopes to complete the work at the start of April, because demand for its services drops slightly during the spring.

Why was Coffee4Craig founded?

Coffee4Craig bears the name of Risha’s brother Craig White who was just 37 when he died on the streets of Cardiff suffering from alcoholism and heroin addiction in addition to not having a roof over his head.

News of the manner of his death was devastating to Risha, who had only some idea just how tough her brother’s life had become.

She said: “I found out he was street homeless about four months before he died. Every time I went down to Cardiff he said he was fine. He had been sectioned a few years previously and he told us they had got him a flat and everything was fine.

“I didn’t realise about the heroin at all. I didn’t know anything about homelessness but figured the best thing to do was to start by chatting to the guys who were homeless about how best to help.”

Risha Lancaster

Risha and her husband Hendrix started volunteering with Manchester charity Lifeshare and when they began to speak to those sleeping rough they found many of them were starving and living in truly dire circumstances.

She said: “When Craig died I put on Facebook that if anyone saw anyone who was homeless they should get them a cup of coffee and say it was from Craig. That’s where it came from.

“I had no intention of starting a charity or anything like that. I just wanted to do something and from there it snowballed.”

Risha then provided a meal for the street homeless people in Cardiff to celebrate Craig’s life and provide somewhere for rough sleepers to go after his funeral.

Coffee4Craig’s first major event as an organisation then involved supporting people throughout the Christmas period and bank holidays.

Its first premises were on Oldham Street but it is now based in the Strangeways area of the city where its drop-in service runs seven evenings a week.

It provides somewhere rough sleepers can enjoy a hot meal and drink, take a shower if there are enough volunteers to supervise it, receive medical advice and help and be signposted to other organisations who may be able to help them. They also collect clean clothes to be given out.

Risha said: “For a lot of people it’s about coming in and feeling normal for two hours.”