What this service means to me - #StoriesFromTheStreet - 16/05/2019
One of the aims of our campaign is to share the experiences of people accessing support through Sheffield services and charities ensuring that we tell their stories authentically, as we hear them. We hope that by humanising the issues of begging and rough sleeping we can educate the general public and encourage everybody to get involved in helping in positive ways.
Help us Help spoke to service users and guests at Archer Project, Ben’s Centre, The Sunday Centre and Addaction Sheffield, and here are their stories, some told anonymously:
“It’s a solace from the outside world. We get food and support here, but its more than that. When I’m here I feel less depressed. It helps with my mental health, you know?”
“It’s a sanctuary for homeless and vulnerable people in the city. This place keeps me alive. I’ve been sanctioned, as they overpaid my benefits, but I said that was their fault, so they stopped my benefits. I’ve had no income and slept rough. This place, the Soup Kitchen and HARC, that’s what’s seen me through” – Billy
“We can see a doctor and dentist here. They don’t discriminate against you, don’t look down on you like you are nothing like they do elsewhere. Here, they treat you like a citizen. That’s normal really, the way it should be.”
“I could cry about this place. Really. I mean it. It’s not just about giving you something to eat and sending you on your way. They keep you occupied here. Give you something to do. They actually care about you.”
“I had a mental breakdown after a bad relationship, lost my kids and my house, and everything just spiralled. I’m living day to day in hostels. I’ve got serious trust issues from what’s happened in my past. I know that. But here the people are open and accepting, they don’t judge. And I know I can trust them.”
“I’ve been coming here for about a year and was told about it by a friend. I was sleeping rough, but now I’m staying in the Salvation Army place in town. I feel really comfortable here. Its usually quiet and I can just come and spend time and just be. The staff are really helpful, they can’t do enough for you. I’m working on getting my own place, that’s the next step for me, and starting volunteering here too in the future” – Rudy
“I feel safe here. I know everyone looks out for me here and the food is lovely. It’s not just for homeless people, you can come here if you are lonely and need company and somebody to talk to” – Sunday Centre guest
“I came for food and warmth at first as I was living on the streets back then. These people here are like a secret hidden community. Nobody knows we exist or notices us, but we all look out for each other” – Sunday Centre guest
“I’ve been coming here for about 18 months or so. Originally, I got a community order and a DRR. I tried shoplifting to feed my habit after I gave up my job, but I wasn’t very good at it! Now I just come voluntarily to catch up with people, come to breakfast club, do the crossword. The staff and volunteers here are genuinely great. If you want to help yourself, really want to make progress, then they’ll always go the extra mile for you. They are completely non-judgemental too.
I didn’t think I had a problem with drugs. I had a good job, I worked hard, but I was in denial. I was probably worse than lots of other people. It was only getting caught shoplifting that led me here to address what I had going on”. – Dex
“I’ve recently been released from prison and the Council have sorted me a flat so that’s good. I’ve just been coming down for the breakfast club and my weekly appointments, that’s all. It’s all been a good experience, and the staff here really do go out of their way to help you with whatever you need”. – Chris
For more information on the work being done to support vulnerable people accessing support in Sheffield, follow this link: http://how-we-help/local-charities
Alison Riggott, April 2019