A Bury charity providing hot meals and advice for homeless residents could be forced to close after the building it operated from was sold.

It's time4change, which runs twice weekly drop-in sessions at Manna House on Irwell Street, will need to move bases and could shut down after the property was sold by its owner, the Bury Christian Fellowship.

The charity was based in Bury Parish Church for two years until moving into its current premises, owned by the fellowship, using a grant secured with the help of former Bury North MP James Frith. 

The charity, which has been running since 2010, provides a breakfast club and a warm space for those experiencing homelessness to “get out of the rain and have something to eat".

It also provides a place for people to meet with outreach workers for advice on accessing services like housing, drug and alcohol treatment, and benefits.

Its time4change was set up by project manager Mick Priestly, a veteran with his own experiences of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as street homelessness. 

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Bury Times: Project manager Mick Priestly, founder of Its time4changeProject manager Mick Priestly, founder of Its time4change (Image: Newsquest)

Mick, 60, says It's time4change will hold its last sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, unless a new home can be found for the cause.  

He added the service, which helped more than 2,000 people last year, is unique in Bury thanks to the signposting it gives to support services.

He said: “There’s nowhere else to go to.

“There’s a place called the Red Door [at St Joseph’s Presbytery, Peter Street] but they don’t offer the same services that I do.”

Mick is now working to find a new home for him and five other volunteers to continue their work but says high rents in the town are a barrier as the charity relies entirely on donations.

He said: “These are the most vulnerable people in our community and they are going to drop through the cracks and not get dealt with."

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Bury Times: Its time4change's current home at Manna House, Irwell StreetIts time4change's current home at Manna House, Irwell Street (Image: Google)

Mick worries that without the charity's support service users may end up in trouble "drinking on the streets" and getting involved in anti-social behaviour.

He added: "We’re trying to stop all that and prove that just because they’re homeless it doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Just because they’ve got a drink problem, it doesn’t mean they can’t be helped."

Mick, who lives in Radcliffe, says the five volunteers he works with were former users of the Its time4changer service and that he has seen many people turn their lives around after being given the right support.

“I’ve seen people get their families back,” he added.

“They’ve got a flat, they’ve got work, they’ve gone onto university and they’ve got a degree.

“I like to think we pointed them in the right direction to change their lives.”

A spokesperson for the Bury Christian Fellowship confirmed that it would be "seeking a new home" for its Sunday services after more than 30 years. 

It added that all groups that use the building were given notice of the organisation's intention to sell the building around a year ago.

The spokesperson said: "During Covid-19, we shifted our focus, offering online services and using our building solely for the provision of hot meals and a food club for those in need.

"Collaborating with other charities, other Bury churches and the council, we ensured support for Bury's most vulnerable throughout the pandemic. 

"Post-pandemic the church has decided to sell its current building, as its size and upkeep costs no longer align with our needs. 

"To accommodate our current services and future plans, we are looking for a more suitable space.

"Sadly, this means the support we have given to many activities and groups over many years in use of the building will have to cease.

"We are currently working with other charities to ensure the food club's continuation elsewhere in Bury."