A few words from one our Trustees, Surriya Falconer.
We rightly clap for the NHS who are putting their lives at risk and for our key workers and volunteers who are supporting vulnerable groups and the rest of us during this crisis.
I want to clap this week for those who are supporting people who are often at their lowest ebb, maybe at their last chance saloon so to speak – those who find themselves on the street with no money for food and nowhere to stay or to sleep. Those whose plight in normal times is hard but now is critical.
In normal times over 20 agencies in Sheffield work together to support and guide those on the street into a better way of life. At present it is an emergency situation and the agencies can just function to be able to feed the homeless and find them somewhere safe to stay during this period.
The current challenge is being able to support this group whilst adhering to COVID-19 rules. I am a Board member for the Cathedral Archer Project (CAP) and it is fantastic how the staff and volunteers of CAP and all the agencies have pulled together. Plus the food donations from local shops and food producers has been invaluable.
This is how it is working at the moment. A number of frontline agencies meet to look at how people would eat – these include CAP, Ben’s Centre, St Wilfrid’s, Sunday Centre, HARC (Homeless and Rootless at Christmas –and using Help Us Help’s communication network have identified places where people need support. They have gathered a volunteer force together and use CAP as the main food production base and Ben’s Centre to put together ‘enrichment’ parcels. Food wise, they are providing between 180-190 meals per day that includes a cooked meal and a sandwich meal for each person. The food is then taken out to places where people live or is given to people who remain without accommodation. The enrichment parcels contain fresh clothing, toiletries, books to read, dvd’s, games and donations from Facebook requests and Ben’s Centre distribute these every Friday.
CAP is making food available direct from the project for those who have no money and remain on the street ensuring that through working with Sheffield City Council and commissioned outreach (Framework) they are helping genuinely homeless or incomeless individuals. CAP also provides showers and laundry facilities and access to the telephone to process benefit claims, make appointments and talk to other agencies.
Tim Renshaw, CEO of CAP: “The numbers who need help is increasing and practical processes are much slower. We are now seeing people who have lost their jobs and accommodation as a result of business closures especially in the hospitality industries. Our collective work to support this group will also relieve potential additional pressure on other key services including the NHS.
“We couldn’t provide this service without our amazing volunteers and food donations however we also need to continually fundraise to keep going. The public have been very generous through this current period. To continue to do what we are doing this at this pace we need to raise our current target to £15,000 over the next few months, as we don’t envisage the situation to change much before July. The public have been so generous to us during this crisis and we hope, amongst their many other concerns, they will have at the moment, they are able to consider our work and be able to donate a few pounds.”
And just to make to a bit more real here are some comments from those we have helped and who volunteer:
I worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years and I’ve been a trained chef for 15 of those 20 years. During this time there is no work for me so I’m now volunteering at the Archer Project to help out during this crisis. I found myself in money difficulties that made me technically become homeless. I approached the Archer Project because I know all about them. Through Framework and then the Council they managed to find me somewhere to live
The only place I’ve found is the Archer Project, they’ve done quite a lot for us, we only got here Monday night. They let us get a shower, do some laundry, fed us. It’s just a struggle, this is the only place we’ve found open in 10 days. And its only through places like this that are going to keep us alive. Never used the place before, can’t say nothing bad about it, all good.
Marcus – volunteer:
It’s about still giving people some purpose, some routine and obviously the basic life sort of things: food, showers etc that people need. I think it’s the resilience of people that, even in really tough circumstances, people are still able to be kind to each other, to treat each other with respect, to crack a joke and to keep that humanity.
CAP Board Member