Home Sweet Home

Wed, 15 Jul 2020 10:42:00 BST

On the 22 June, members of our alumni in Shanghai and staff from our China Centre came together to visit Home Sweet Home (HSH), a local charity which works with individuals with special needs. By providing homeless and disabled people with training in areas such as English, computer skills, sewing, HSH is focused on preparing its beneficiaries for reintegration into society with a focus on independent living, a mature sense of self, and the ability to work in a normal job and contribute to society.

As part of the ‘UoM goes to HSH NoW’ initiative, our alumni and China Centre staff strived to get assistance for those whose sources of income have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and help to increase awareness of and tolerance for individuals with special needs.

The alumni and staff were split into two groups and participated in an embroidery workshop and a handicraft arts workshop aimed at building more awareness of HSH’s profile. The groups also sent thoughtful messages to young men and women involved in HSH’s residential programme. For many, it was their first hands-on experience with how to tie a Chinese knot and how to add a Manchester element to textile products. More importantly, it was their very first experience interacting with the usually overlooked, yet large community in big cities like Shanghai: the homeless. Both the China Centre and HSH worked hard to ensure that it was a relaxed and informative experience for attendees, with feedback from many alumni and staff being very positive.

Aileen Wei said: “It has been a very new experience for me to meet, interact, and get to know this under-privileged community. I am very pleased with the outcome of this SR project. I am thinking about working with HSH in creating the design for my next cosmetics product as I believe there are many common grounds shared in our mission and vision.”

Allen Mao said: “The careful planning and effort put into this trip demonstrated the determination and commitment of the China Centre to genuinely attend to and care about those with special needs. Upon arrival I thought we would not communicate smoothly but the China Centre staff and HSH team made it comfortable with the effort that they have made to ensure our delegation was provided with enough background information and appropriate terms to carry out a meaningful conversation. This trip was of great value and I hope my daughter and other second-generation students of University of Manchester alumni will have the chance to come and learn!”

Noa Hsiao, BSc economics & MSc management of projects, said: “This trip went very well in terms of learning and interaction and the information provided by HSH was very thoughtful and enabled us to conversate easily with the beneficiaries of the charity. The two workshops gave us hands-on experience to get to know the difficulty of their workload – it was almost impossible for us to finish the tasks and I cannot imagine how difficult it is for them with different types of disabilities.

I was amazed by their craftsmanship as the various tasks they need to do were quite difficult and are all tailored to meet real business demands. I have to say, they are doing better jobs and delivering products of much higher quality than the majority of products I have seen in the market. Ultimately, I thank the China Centre for organising this SR initiative where I truly advanced my knowledge of this otherwise unfamiliar group of people to me in society.”

Keeping in mind social responsibility and spreading the purple love

The ‘UoM goes to HSH NoW’ initiative marks the second time that the China Centre has collaborated with HSH, following on from 2017 when they worked together to design and produce limited edition charity t-shirts and caps for our alumni.

Sherry Fu, Director of the China Centre, said: “As 2020 is off to a rocky start, we are reminded of the importance to share, care and love each other. Apart from offering the “UoM NoW” initiative during COVID-19 alumni event series, featuring fundraising campaign for MFT and social responsibility webinars built around alumni and the Centre’s areas of expertise, the China Centre also tries to help to give back to our local communities however we can.

As ever, the success and sustainability of the project was, in large part, due to strong teamwork between the Centre, HSH and our alumni. Reaching out to charities is a meaningful experience for us all and we all look forward to working with more of them in the near future.”

Taking inspiration from Home Sweet Home’s mission statement, "To love and care for those with special needs”, let our University community act now to make a difference and spread its purple love!