Phil's story

Phil's story - 09/07/2020

“They are a really interesting bunch, the clients. Over the past four weeks I’ve started to get to know most of them a little bit, and I’m really enjoying it. Every day there’s something new.”

Phil is a hugely experienced security guard. Having recently worked at the Nightingale hospitals and at Heathrow protecting vital PPE stock, his next assignment was in Sheffield, supporting the Cathedral Archer Project with ensuring social distancing amongst clients accessing their service during the pandemic.

Phil wasn’t sure what to expect, having never worked in a homelessness service before, so in many ways it has been an eye opening experience.

“I can’t imagine what life is like for people living on the streets or in temporary accommodation. They are in a constant state of flux in so many areas of their lives. Nothing is certain or concrete for them. It’s constant fight or flight which must be exhausting and seem never ending for them.”

“It’s really made me evaluate my career path. I’m a South London boy born and bred, and have been working in security for 30 years now, all over the country really but I’ve been settled up North with my family for the past 6 years now. Recently I’ve been thinking about what to do next, maybe step away from security, and this experience has given me lots to think about. The people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard.”

At present the Archer Project is supplying 200 meals a day plus lunches and breakfasts to homeless and vulnerable people in the city, and the team is working on how to open their premises for breakfasts whilst adhering to government guidelines, rather than passing food through their gates. They are continuing to deliver food to supported accommodation sites as required, working alongside other agencies in a huge partnership effort in the city.

Phil explained that when he initially met them at the Project, many of the clients were hesitant to talk to him, perhaps wary of him as an authority figure, but over time they have opened up, and started to chat about their lives. Phil actively engages the clients in conversation, listens to their stories and has learned so much from them. 

“I’ve got huge empathy with them. Some of their stories are heartbreaking. Their families may be in another country, they may have lost everything. Working at the Project in the way I am, it’s helping in a small way. I’m enjoying it and it’s making me think this could be my new direction.”

To support the Cathedral Archer Project in their clean up campaign after the recent fire, you can donate here: JustGiving Campaign.