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Backup is 30 this year, an anniversary represented by Pearls. Precious pearls. Things of beauty that started life as a grain of sand or grit. It finds its way into an Oyster shell and grows into the desirable gem we see and some of us wear. The grit sneaks in and is an irritant to the living shellfish, akin to us getting sand in our eye. It makes its home here. The pearl develops as a result of a membrane growing around the grit to protect and save the shellfish.

They say the world is our Oyster. Why?

The world is your oyster’ saying is often said to young people about to embark on adult life. It simply means that everything is possible. If you are lucky you might find something special.

The metaphor that informs the saying is that if you have an oyster there is a chance that there may be a pearl in it. A nice fresh oyster can be hard to open, but once opened it’s good. And perhaps it may have a pearl in it, which would be a valuable addition to one’s life. So when we set out to seek our fortune, the pearl is the good luck we may have. If we’re lucky we will find it.

The saying has mysteriously evolved from its original appearance in Shakespeare’s comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor. It’s slightly misquoted, as is so often the case with Shakespeare references that become English idioms. The actual quote is ‘The world’s mine oyster.’


The pearl is also linked to another common phrase, ‘pearls of wisdom’, meaning someone has imparted wise words or statement. Backup are sharing pearls of wisdom from friends of the charity. Peoples’ favourite quotes or mantras they live by. I am sure that if I asked you what quote you would align with me you would know the answer. It’s a phrase I am associated with. “Don’t be a dick – it’s northern for integrity.” That would be my pearl of wisdom as it just means,  do the right thing. Integrity is very important to me personally and professionally.  If that’s the basis for everything you do all other things will fall into place. It is an important value to share and model with the young.

Anyway, my point is this.

Young people are sometimes considered to be an irritant. At Backup we prefer to see them as pearl potential from the off. If the world is the Oyster then Backup are the protective layers holding the grit and shaping it until everyone sees its true value and beauty. The metaphorical shell for us is the safe accommodation we offer. The layers inside in which the grit sits and grows is the support, 1:1, groupwork, education, encouragement, advocacy, development of lifeskills, hand holding, safety planning, signposting and more  - all delivered by our incredible staff team.

Every single pearl has value and worth. They can vary in size, shape, colour and qualities just like our young folk, but unlike the grit, they are always welcome in our shell.

Backup – 30 years of turning grit into gems.

Backup Charity values infographic

What We Do!

BACKUP provide multiple services across Bolton to young people aged 16-25 years who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. Read here about all the supported accommodation which includes emergency housing, temporary accommodation, short and medium stay supported housing. Also the non accommodation based support work that focusses on mental health, employment support and much more.

Young people can live in more than one Backup service as they make progress and develop more independence prior to moving on completely. The different services are designed to meet various levels and ranges of needs.


This year
we accomodated

young people

Our Events

Every year Backup delivers multiple events for fundraising. Each one is designed to raise awareness and much needed money to support young people who are homeless. Annually we have our core events; Gala Ball, Golf Day and Ladies Lunch. We also have other events that are different each year so that we can have a wider appeal to all.

Fundraising and Events

Back Up North West's cartoon character called Charlie