Support vulnerable people


Volunteering roles in this sector usually count towards the "Make a Difference" part of the Stellify Award. Roles that take on committee responsibility may count towards the "Step Up and Lead" section.


Volunteering in homelessness

There is a huge range of opportunities to volunteer in homelessness that go beyond the traditional street kitchens and soup runs. In line with the new Manchester Homelessness Charter, charities are now focusing on helping rough sleepers and homeless individuals to access tailored support, which will help them into longer-term accommodation, work and life off the street.

If you’re passionate about ending homelessness, you could make a real, tangible difference by volunteering in a role that allows you to make use of your own strengths and interests.

For example:

  • If you enjoy working with IT and computers: you could help service users at a daytime drop-in centre to master some basic IT skills which will enable them to complete online job applications and write CVs.
  • If you’re creative: you could volunteer alongside project participants on a furniture upcycling project to support them in learning new skills or help to deliver an arts session.
  • If you’re patient, calm and understanding: you could help to run a street outreach project signposting rough sleepers to relevant support services.

The Volunteering Team can help you to find the right role for you by matching you with one of the many roles available. We can give you an overview of all the different projects and activities that are happening across Manchester to help end homelessness and keep you up-to-date with the most recent volunteering opportunities.

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Student Action Outreach Project

Student Action’s homeless projects are changing following some research and meetings with local organisations on how we can best utilise our skills and resources to help Manchester’s homeless community more effectively. Our committee has recently voted to join the Coalition of Relief (COR), a group of organisations working on a long-term plan to combat the problems that homeless people face in Manchester. Joining COR enables us to have more of a say in what the long-term goal should encompass, while also strongly encouraging collaboration between the organisations working towards a similar goal in our city.

The new Student Action Outreach project will be run in partnership with local charity Mancunian Way. Student leaders will go out onto the streets to engage with homeless people, with the aim of signposting them into services that can offer specialist, long-term support.

Due to training requirements and the project’s involvement with incredibly vulnerable adults, only trained leaders will be able to work on this project during semester one. If you’re interested in volunteering during semester two, a second round of training will be delivered if volunteers are required. Please note this project requires a DBS check.

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Big Change Society

The Big Change Society was established to raise awareness to UoM students, staff and the wider community about the Big Change campaign. The campaign collaboratively works with local charities, grassroots and public sector organisations, Manchester City Council and even businesses, all with the aim to end homelessness in our city. Funds raised for Big Change are used to provide long-term sustainable support for homeless people, providing practical items like deposits for accommodation or travel expenses for job interviews, which will enable them to move away from a life off the streets.

The main aims of the Big Change Society are: fundraising; campaigning; signposting; and promoting responsible giving. Our values focus on working together instead of separately to aid us in the fight against homelessness.

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Homeless Healthcare Society

Homeless individuals have a life-expectancy of just 47 years - a shocking 30 years less than the population average. This harrowing statistic is the result of many different factors; however, key to improving this is adequate provision and engagement with appropriate healthcare services.

The Homeless Healthcare Society is looking to improve the services provided to this vulnerable population. Volunteering opportunities will include joining drop-in centres, to signpost homeless individuals to the healthcare they require. The society with also organise lectures and training workshops by those working in the field.

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Manchester Central Foodbank

The University has its very own foodbank on campus which was founded by University of Manchester students with the aim of supporting local people experiencing food poverty. Manchester Central Foodbank can be found at the Chaplaincy on Oxford Road, directly opposite the Students’ Union, so it is perfectly located for students who want to fit their volunteering around their studies.

Manchester Central Foodbank is one of over 400 Trussell Trust foodbanks with the shared aim of ending hunger in the UK. Clients bring their voucher to the Foodbank where it can be redeemed for three days’ emergency food. While their food is being packed, Foodbank volunteers sit and chat with clients over a hot drink.

This volunteering role involves spending some time with clients and hearing their stories. This enables the volunteers to signpost clients to other agencies who can offer additional help and begin to address any longer-term problems.

If this type of role isn’t for you, there are many other ways to volunteer – you could help with food sorting and packing, fundraising or promoting the Foodbank to the local community.

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Josh started out volunteering on homeless food runs, but soon wanted to find other ways to bring about long-term change. He went on to set up the Homeless Healthcare Society, in an effort to combine his background in medicine with a desire to help Manchester’s most vulnerable patients.

“As students, we have so many skills to offer that can make a big difference. Of course there is no quick fix to homelessness – it requires input from so many different angles. Homeless individuals will often need social, legal and medical support at some point through their journey. The key question is… how can you help? The Homeless Healthcare Society is specifically trying to focus on raising awareness of the medical inequalities faced by homeless patients, and ultimately looking to improve the care provided by tomorrow’s healthcare professionals.”