BTEC Art and Design students from Pendleton Sixth Form College have partnered up with local charity, Salford Loaves and Fishes, to help brighten up their new drop-in centre, which is utilised by the city’s homeless and most vulnerable.

In recent years the homeless crisis in Manchester and Salford has escalated, and it’s only forecast to get worse. That is why charities like Salford Loaves and Fishes are so important.

The charity works to empower and deliver hope for those in the city who need it most, with the drop-in centre providing everything from basics like shelter, food and clothing, to companionship, support and help with problems including debt and addiction.

The centre was originally formed in 2007 in collaboration with Manchester City Mission, but for over a year, the centre has been forced to operate in temporary accommodation. That is until last summer when it was re-opened in a new, permanent location.

That is where the student’s from Pendleton Sixth Form College came in. They started working on the ‘Make a Difference’ community project earlier this year when it was decided the interior walls of the new building could do with some much-needed life and attention. They were enlisted to create artwork that would revive the space for users.

Helen Tattum, Support Worker at Salford Loaves and Fishes, and Lisa Walker, Art Teacher at Pendleton, began working with art and design students to create something bright and visually spectacular to help brighten up the day-to-day lives of those who use the centre and its resources.

Lisa said: “If there was ever a community group that deserved a helping hand, it was the Salford Loaves and Fishes drop-in centre.

“I feel so privileged to have been involved in such a worthwhile project and I have been so amazed at the response from our students. Their commitment both in and out of lessons and their general positive attitude and enthusiasm has been eye-opening.”

Students were eager from the beginning to get involved in the project and make a difference to the space by injecting colour, textures and inspiring imagery. They were given a simple brief to be creative and users of the centre sent them words that represented the charity to them, for inspiration. These included love, hope, charity, people, care and diversity.

They quickly set to work measuring walls, creating visuals, sampling colours and textures and eventually producing several, individual, large-scale paintings. Over Easter, the artwork was installed and is now a permanent fixture at the centre.

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Between 80 and 100 people use the Salford Loaves and Fishes Centre every day that it is open for business, with the charity providing a safe and warm shelter, hot and cold food and drink, clothing and toiletries, showers and a laundry service, to those most in need. They offer a homeless GP service, dental service, citizen’s advice bureau, homing advice and also put on various activities including arts and crafts.

Art teacher Lisa was not only extremely proud of the work produced by her students, but also by the amount they learnt about Salford Loaves and Fishes. She said: “By working with this amazing resource we have in our city, our students have certainly learnt, and had their eyes opened to the reality and daily struggles that so many people face.

“Their finished paintings really have made a difference, not only to the space but to the lives of those that use the centre. Staff and students from the Pendleton College Creative Arts Department would like to thank all of the staff and volunteers for this wonderful opportunity and we would love the chance to be able to work with Salford Loaves and Fishes again in the future.”

Megan Tong, one of the students involved in the ‘Make a Difference’ project said: “I enjoyed this project a lot as I have been raised knowing I should always try to help the less fortunate.

“The community centre help lots of different people all the time and this project gave us the chance to show the centre what that means to the community.

All of us are really proud of the outcome. The whole thing lifted my confidence and I was honoured to donate my art.”

Paris-Anne Thomas explained how she and her partner came up with their piece of art, she said: “We chose to go with the idea of family trees. Our piece was to be placed in the reception of the centre so we felt that it would fit because as each person that signs up to that community centre, is a new member of the family. We chose the purple for the Salford Loaves and Fishes logo and we chose the orange to represent the sunrise of each day as every day is a fresh start.”

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