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Love for the Streets supports homeless charities in Manchester by connecting them with one of the city’s biggest and hardest to reach demographics: students. Led by a group of promotors all under the age of 25, over 5000 people have attended the campaign’s diverse cultural programme, which has raised money and awareness (and, in one case, 875kg of food) for homeless communities.

It’s an ambitious feat for an organisation barely a year old, yet has inspired a new wave of young activist around a social cause. The organisation recently featured in Eventbrite’s Generation DIY series – profiling young event creators aged 25 and under making real change in the UK. As members Jonah, Ella and Jack explain over the phone, they do it for the love of it.

Can you explain a bit about what Love for the Streets is, and how the movement came about?

Jonah: It started a couple of years ago when I went out into the Northern Quarter and met this guy called James, who was living on the streets. We spoke for hours about his life story, how he’d been given up for adoption at birth, about how his childhood was abusive. It just hit me with this notion that, if I had gone through what he’d gone through would I have ended up any differently? I wrote about [the experience], and got invited to The Big Change society at the University of Manchester where I wanted to bring issues to students in the city. I met Lily, and we came up with the idea for a fundraiser for The Big Change fund and raised over £1000 in one night. That was a lightbulb moment where we realised you could use music, art and culture to really power a revolution and get students involved with social causes. Shortly after that we launched Love for the Streets.

What are some of these issues that people might not be aware of regarding homelessness?

Jonah: the number one reason why women become homeless is because of domestic abuse, and the number one reason why LGBTQ+ people become homeless is because of family breakdowns. If you look at the statistics, 40% of young people that are homeless identify as LGBTQ+ which, when you look at that in compared with the general population, it’s a lot higher.

Jack: It’s extraordinary. And it’s not just the statistics we’re really shouting, it’s the experience and the journey they’re forced to go through. That’s why I think doing conscious clubbing raises so much awareness of this, because it gets brought to so many young peoples’ attention.

Regarding conscious clubbing, how can nightclubs be vital spaces for engaging young people with social causes? How do you tend to approach hosting these kinds of events?

Ella: Students are obviously known for going out, but if you can turn that energy towards community clubbing – where they can donate by just paying for a night – then it just gets people involved and starts that conversation. People realise that they can actually just do a little thing like coming to our Food for Thought event and bring a couple of tins of beans, and you can actually see the difference it makes – raising almost a tonne of food is ridiculous! It’s like your own community within itself, where you know lots of people and pull together each other’s strengths and go out, get the job done and do it! Do some good!

Jonah: I think what the most important thing about conscious clubbing is that you’re always trying to get a message across, but that we keep the vibe right – we keep the vibe positive.

Jack: The event raises so much engagement and awareness about homelessness that the content we bring out after really sort of hits all the people that went and that didn’t go with this extra message about what they can do, what’s actionable. You can go and do volunteering, but not going and standing with a bucket on a street corner.

Jonah: [it’s] giving people the opportunity to go to conferences to learn more information, or do volunteering in other cases, so we’re driving them towards action afterwards.

What are some of the other events you do beside clubbing?

Ella: We ran six weeks’ worth of art workshops [with people from night shelters and homeless charities] and held a big event at The Whitworth. It was amazing to connect with the people who had produced the artwork, for them to have a voice and see their own work at one of the biggest art galleries. We increased intake by 65%, which shows that these kinds of institutions can be engaged and invite these issues into their doors, and how many people are interested to come through and look at what we’ve done.

Jack: One of my favourites was ‘Real Stories’, which was a discussion with 90 people with hip hop artist Sir Spyro, who was homeless for years. After his talk, he played music for us, which was really great. Whenever we put on an event, we always try to incorporate a bit of music and culture to bring people together.

 

Do you plan on taking this further than Manchester?

Jonah: We’ve built it here and it works here, because of the community that is here. So we’re not currently moving it to other cities – we want to grow this platform, grow this community, grow this movement, and really get more students involved in Manchester engaged in this topic.

Ella:  It’s been really great for us, through sharing the content on our personal platforms, to have friends up and down the country asking us ‘when are you bringing this here’? It’s quite overwhelming, but amazing to see there is a need within all the student communities to have similar projects that really highlight the issues and bring those calls to action.

What’s next for Love for the Streets?

Jack: The big next steps are trying to really grow our volunteering base. There’s the one side of that conscious clubbing and events that really raise awareness, but also giving students that opportunity to action.

Ella: And if you get people volunteering at a young age, they’re much more likely to carry it on throughout their lives, if that make that time and effort even just one time a week. So hopefully we’ll be 40 and still volunteering!

Jack: Hopefully we can inspire another DIY generation.