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Making a home for Manchester’s homeless this Christmas

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Manchester’s oldest homeless charity was struggling to find a base from which to run its Christmas project. Vinci and its construction partners, which includes Walker Sime, have stepped in to help.

If you know Manchester, chances are you know Lifeshare. For almost 40 years, the charity has been dedicated to supporting homeless and vulnerable people across the city. Every year Lifeshare hosts Manchester’s only seven-day holiday provision for those with nowhere else to go. It’s a lifeline, providing freshly cooked meals, hot showers, medical care, warm clothes, and companionship. But after being drastically cut back for 2020 as a result of the pandemic, this year’s Christmas project was struggling to find a location to use as a base for its work between December 23 – 29.

Fortunately, Vinci and Walker Sime as one of its partners in the construction of the £115M New Victoria residential scheme, saw an opportunity to help. “Our colleagues at VINCI Construction UK, who are the main contractor on the project, realised that when construction shuts down for the Christmas period, the site welfare buildings are free and available,” explains Viet Huynh, Principal Quantity Surveyor with Walker Sime, who are providing quantity surveying services for the project.

The use of the welfare buildings isn’t the only support being offered. “All of the site’s development partners have come together to donate funds which will, in part, be used to pay for food over the Christmas period, with the remainder being used to ensure the welfare buildings are safely screened from the live construction site.”

As well as ourselves, the partners helping to make this Lifeshare Christmas Project happen at the New Victoria residential development include: VINCI Construction UK, Muse Developments, PIC, Chroma, ARUP, HAALO and WSP.

Supporting the homeless a “no-brainer”

Viet is no stranger to supporting Manchester’s homeless charities. “I’ve volunteered for projects like this before, and I know how valuable seemingly simple things like changing facilities, a shower, a little bit of warmth and good, hot food can be. Walker Sime is a local company and much of what we do is about regenerating Manchester – we recognise we all have a wider responsibility to everyone in the city. Offering the site welfare buildings to Lifeshare at this time of year really did feel like a no-brainer.”

Judith Vickers, operations manager at Lifeshare, told VINCI Construction: “We cannot explain how amazing this donation is. I was really starting to panic that we had no location to hold this year’s Christmas Project – a scheme that helps so many people at what is one of the worst times of the year if you’re on the streets.

“We are still asking for help though! We need a range of other items to make it a real success, so I would urge people, who are so kind at this time of year towards the homeless, to take a look at our website and social media channels – and @lifeshareuk –to see how they can help.”

New Victoria continues to take shape

Once the Christmas break is over and construction teams are back on site, progress on the New Victoria development will continue. The 450,000 sq ft of residential space is spread across two towers. Currently, construction on tower one has reached the 14th floor. Residential tower two is at floor five, with the buildings’ facades following. Electrical and mechanical services are also now on site.

“It remains an extremely challenging project because of its location,” Viet explains. “The site is extremely congested, nestling between Victoria train station, a tram line and busy road junction. There are also significant underground constraints, so bringing materials to site and storing them presents additional issues. We remain confident, however, that takeover in the first quarter of 2024 will take place on time and as planned.”

You can find out more, and support Lifeshare here.