After almost a year of deliberation The Invisibles are very pleased to announce the launch of The Michelle McFarlane Award.
Creating a new service and making a tangible difference to people’s lives was of upmost importance in the process so we looked long and hard to find somewhere we could make an impact on people’s lives.
During our research it was soon apparent that a lot of charity exists to help people living in crisis but for those trying to move on there is not really a lot there. Austerity has battered the welfare state to the point that literally no funding exists from the DWP for people moving out of homeless accommodation and into their own home.
They can apply to their local authority for essential items, but people are being given mattresses with no bed frame, or carpets for only one room, and left pretty much in squalor. It is difficult for most of us to empathise with the gravity of someone starting again from nothing and recovering even the most basic day-to-day items.
Once we decided this was an area, we wanted to look into we realised that actually finding genuine candidates might be difficult. It was decided to look toward some of the bigger charities who deal with people moving on with their lives and found two partners to work with initially.
Turning Point Scotland deal with thousands of people every year who live in temporary furnished flats (TFFs). These are people living in a scatter flat who have previously been on the streets, homeless hostels and are now waiting on their permanent accommodation.
We decided we must approach Turning Point because nobody else has the access or knowledge of people moving into their own accommodation. They gladly agreed to work alongside us to identify people who would be most in need of our help to provide much needed items for people’s new homes, like white goods or furniture.
Emmaus Glasgow are friends of ours who work down at Cadogan Street. They run their own unique unit in the north of Glasgow with people recovering from homelessness working there to earn their keep.
Unlike Turning Point, they will be using the awards differently for things like driving lessons or work-related training courses to try and give their users that extra little chance of succeeding when they are ready to move on from the facility.
As well as Turning Point and Emmaus we will consider award to individuals we know from the street and will hopefully be looking for other partners as the project evolves.
The genesis of the idea was with our best volunteer, Michelle McFarlane, who sadly passed away in October of last year and the scheme will be named in her honour. We hope it to be a project worthy of her name.
Michelle took in the original donation that is funding the first year of our project and then set-up early meetings to discuss ideas.
We had further meetings late last year and only reached a consensus early this year but are happy this is a valuable cause. Creating this legacy for Michelle is something that means a lot to each and every one of us, so we hope to watch it grow.
Refusing to sit back and an insistence on keeping on moving was what made Michelle different from most. It was she who drove us onto the streets five years back when there were very few groups out there in Glasgow and she instigated this new project too.
We are only just recovering from her death and as a group we floundered for a few months. In a family dynamic when someone passes, they are not replaced, and this is how it has gone with Michelle’s passing in our group. There is a void that will never be filled but, like a family, we are back getting on with it and all chipping in to carry on her work.
Billy Reid is another respected volunteer in our group and knew Michelle better than most. He said: “We are delighted to be getting this off the ground and think it has the potential to grow because the need badly exists.
“Michelle was keen to get a new service operating that would help the lives of the homeless in Glasgow and was at the first few meetings earlier last year spearheading the early ideas.
“We have already stepped up our outreach operation this year and are doing much more street work but that is different and after a lot of discussion we feel like we have found something else that will make a real difference to folk’s lives with the Michelle McFarlance Award.”
The scheme is already up and running and we will be updating our website in the coming months to detail some of the grants bestowed.