Maninplace, Telford and Wrekin’s homeless charity, was one of several Shropshire enterprises to be handed awards by Mrs Dean Harris, the outgoing High Sheriff of Shropshire.
Mrs Harris has got to know Maninplace and its founder and CEO, Alan Olver, during her year as sheriff, which has coincided with a year of coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns.
This week she was able to visit their Wellington headquarters and present Mr Olver with a physical certificate recognising their “great and valuable services to the community”.
“I’m really delighted and thrilled,” said Mr Olver. “We’re a hardworking organisation and what I liked about it was that it was an award for the staff of Maninplace, and didn’t single any one person out in particular.
“We have got a staff team of 40-plus who, for this last year, have worked tirelessly to sustain the service for those who are sleeping rough and homeless. It’s been a busy year and the sheriff has got to know us through that busyness.”
Last summer, Mrs Harris visited Maninplace’s new guest house in Telford. The organisation has been able to keep working with customers thanks to an adaptable team and the purchase of new tablets and technology.
“The whole way we work has been turned on its head,” said Mr Olver.
“We’ve been able to be part of the Covid-19 Rough Sleepers Task Group, which has met for over a year now to try and help people. It’s been a very demanding year. I think what the sheriff saw when we opened the guest house was that we had to do it in a different way.
“She saw the staff, the way they appreciated working with the customer base, and was impressed by that. For me it’s a staff award, it’s not for me as CEO or any of my fellow directors. We’re part of that staff team, we work together and that’s all we’ve wanted to do.”
Having worked in the Telford and Wrekin area for over 40 years, Mr Olver said the situation for rough sleepers remains difficult.
“As a society we need to realise that we’re not building adequate, appropriate, affordable homes for everyone,” he said.
“There is still a section of our society where the accommodation is particularly difficult for people to access. People are living in rooms rather than a self-contained home.
"You can throw money at the provision and we’re absolutely grateful for the way the Government has given to enable us to continue working – but at the end of the day people need a home to call their own.”
Visit maninplace.org.uk to learn more about the work of Maninplace.
Mrs Harris’ successor, Tony Morris-Eyton, will be officially welcomed into the role in a virtual service tomorrow.