Lonely and scared elderly woman discovered sleeping rough on Manchester streets

A lonely and scared elderly woman has been discovered sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester.

Volunteers from the don't Walk Past organisation first spotted the woman on Market Street – the busiest in the city –  on Tuesday evening, as they were out feeding people.

"She was very confused," volunteer Lauren Jones, 33, said.

"She was scared. She was sitting on a tarpaulin, with just a duvet. She was freezing cold."

The volunteers offered to help the woman by offering her accommodation outside the city centre, which she wasn't comfortable with.

They then shared a disturbing picture of the woman on Facebook, showing her sitting on a tarpaulin as a duvet covered her.

Many people were touched by the heartbreaking and rushed to the comment section to express their concern.

Lauren and other volunteers, who alerted the council, then went back out on Wednesday to look for the woman, understood to be in her 60s and have found her accommodation in a hotel.

She's understood to have only been homeless for a week or so.

The town hall said outreach teams were sent to search for her too.

"We are working to find her as a priority so she can be found accommodation and offered all the support at our disposal," the council said just before 5pm.

Shortly after, Lauren found her.

"She was very upset," she said.

"She said she's been moved on from where she'd been. She was in Piccadilly Gardens.

"It was scary for her, there were lots of noises. She said it was like 'Armageddon'.

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"We're still trying to find out what happened to her, how she ended up on the streets.

"We've given her a new phone with a new SIM card.

"We can't force anybody to do anything. It's about gaining trust – we're here if she needs us."

Lauren said the woman was initially offered a place in accommodation outside the city centre, which she wasn't comfortable with.

The group decided to put her up in a hotel for a few days and give her a little space. They paid the bill.

Lauren and her colleagues are still trying to find out how the woman ended up sleeping rough.

It's understood social services stepped in to help on Friday.

Don't Walk Past, which has more than 4,300 members, was started by Ronny English.

"He saw someone freezing cold and wet through sat in a wheelchair in Manchester one night," Lauren said.

"He knew he had to do something about it.

"It all started from there – a few people from Salford wanting to give back. People are only a few lost paydays away from being in that position.

"Our message is clear – if you have the capacity to do something to help, stop walking and do it. Don't walk past."

A Manchester council spokesman said: "We are pleased to see that quick action was taken to get this woman off the streets and into safe, stable accommodation.

"Our outreach team worked alongside homelessness charities and organisations to find her after being alerted on Wednesday.

"While we were unsuccessful, we were relieved to learn that she had been found by a partner charity.

"The public's response has been gratifying to see and reinforces our belief that no Mancunian will stand idly by when people are forced to sleep rough.

"We will always do everything in our power to support people in need and I now hope this woman gets all the help she needs to prevent her from ever having to sleep rough again."

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