This is not a sequel to the infamous best seller of a similar name, rather 50 shades for Graih is a fundraising initiative for the homeless charity.
Jill Manning made 50 lampshades from ‘upcycled’ material sourced at amenity sites which she is selling for Graih, and has a stall at this Sunday’s Christmas fair at Ballavartyn Equestrian Centre in Santon.
She was inspired to help because her son Mike, who works for Graih, said ‘they are starting to struggle for funds,’ explained Jill.
Demand for Graih’s support – a drop-in service at their Broadway premises – fluctuates, but there has been a noticeable increase this year he said.
Mike explained: ‘It’s been an interesting year – we have needed to accommodate far more people overnight ... We’ve probably had as many this year as in the last three years. We deal with a niche group at the very bottom of everything. Their problems tend to have been going on for a long time. This is a safe social space, we have built up the ability to welcome people.
‘They have a lot of fear and uncertainty, so we have to build trust, then we can work on rebuilding their life. Substance abuse is not even the majority, it used to be, but mental health plays a bigger part. It’s the lack of a support network – people are incredibly isolated.’
Various elements compound the problem in the island, where there are no minimum legal standards imposed on boarding houses, meaning unscrupulous landlords can exploit a system that pays out regardless of quality.
Also, there is no ‘legal framework’ for homelessness, or requirement for authorities to respond to the problem.
‘The problem is neglected’ said Mike, who pointed out there was also a general gap in ‘supportive housing’, which is used to reintroduce people into society. Graih is, however, grateful for the use of three cottages owned by Braddan Commissioners for this purpose.
Graih has repaired many fractured lives, but it is a protracted process.
Mike said: ‘It’s not very sexy. It’s long term work.’
Christmas an emotionally charged time, said Mike, who added: ‘This is a difficult time but there is support there.’
Truman Falls will give a performance for Graih at 7pm on December 16 in St Ninian’s Church, Douglas.