Elderly Woman Sleeping Rough In Manchester Captures Hearts Worldwide
An elderly woman found living on the streets of Manchester has captured the attention of social media users worldwide after her image was shared online.
The woman, identified by the name Anne on Facebook, was found sitting on a tarpaulin on Manchester’s busiest shopping street by volunteers with the Don’t Walk Past organisation.
The group gives out hot meals several times a week to those sleeping on the streets, though they became particularly concerned when they came across Anne – who is understood to be in her 60s – on October 27.
It’s unclear how she ended up on the streets, and although she had a duvet covering her, the elderly woman was seen shivering in the cold conditions.
Lauren Jones, one of the members of Don’t Walk Past, described Anne as ‘very confused’, ‘scared’ and ‘freezing cold’, Manchester Evening News reported. Lauren offered to help her, but knowing she couldn’t force Anne to do anything, all Lauren could do was hope to gain her trust.
The volunteer explained:
We made a few phone calls and gave her our card, to let her know we could help. 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.
Lauren shared a picture of Anne on Facebook that has since been shared more than 2,000 times. Dozens of people commented with offers to put Anne up, though Lauren said the elderly woman is in need of more permanent accommodation.
Volunteers headed back onto the streets to find Anne the following day, and learned that she’d moved spots after being scared by all the noises in the previous area.
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.
We’ve given her a new phone with a new SIM card. We can’t force anybody to do anything. It’s about gaining trust – we’re here if she needs us.
Manchester Council has been alerted to Anne’s situation and until a solution is found, Don’t Walk Past has decided to put her up in a hotel.
The organisation was started by a man named Ronny English after he saw someone sitting ‘freezing cold and wet through’ in Manchester one evening. The group now has more than 4,300 members.
Lauren stressed that people are ‘only a few lost paydays away from being in that position’, and encouraged people to embrace the message of the group: ‘If you have the capacity to do something to help, stop walking and do it. Don’t walk past.’
A spokesperson for Manchester Council said they were pleased to see that quick action was taken to help Anne off the streets, and explained that the council’s outreach team had worked ‘alongside homelessness charities and organisations to find her’.
The public’s response has been gratifying to see and reinforces our belief that no Mancunian will stand idly by when people are forced to sleep rough.
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.
Don’t Walk Past is still trying to determine how Anne ended up living on the streets, and how the authorities can help her.
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Manchester Evening News
Don't Walk Past/Facebook