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Love for the Streets

It all started with a chance meeting with a homeless man called James in Manchester’s city centre. That moment ignited Jonah Ogbuneke’s desire to raise awareness of homelessness through a unique mix of music, art and culture. Today, meeting Jonah on his way to register his Love for the Streets project as a community interest company, it’s hard not to be inspired by his infectious enthusiasm and enterprising ideas.

Jonah, MEng Chemical Engineering with Energy and Environment, describes Love for the Streets as a “non-profit events and digital marketing social business that specialises in volunteer recruitment campaigns”. His creative approach has seen him receive a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister. These accolades recognise outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their communities.

Jonah says: “The team behind Love for the Streets have our five-step process as their goal – immerse, emote, educate, community, action. What this means is we work with charities, get the attention of young people and educate them on the issues using events, content and social-media marketing to build an online community and drive people to volunteer.”

It’s easy to see how their ideas appeal to a student audience – parody news videos created with local partners use comedy and student culture to highlight complexities within the homelessness issue and tackle perceptions, for example the narrative of spice addicts and rough sleepers.

A music festival collaboration with local promoters Hit & Run and Levelz saw students able to attend for free as long as they brought along non-perishable food items – 875kg of food was given to Manchester Central Foodbank with an additional £1,000 in financial donations.

The team comprises four directors plus seven regular and 15 part-time volunteers. “Everyone feels empowered to input ideas and knows that Love for the Streets belongs to them too – that’s the key to our success,” says Jonah.

And what of the future? “We’re currently working on making Love for the Streets more sustainable – with support from EY Foundation’s Accelerate programme for social enterprises,” Jonah reveals. “We also want to harness our students’ skills. We’re talking to a local organisation about students with TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) getting experience working with refugees.

“The team has worked tirelessly to find innovative ways of engaging students on the issue of homelessness and mobilising them to support the incredible work of Manchester charities.

“I could not be prouder of the entire team and all that we’ve accomplished.”

Jonah Ogbuneke
Jonah Ogbuneke