On the 24th November we shall be marking the beginning of our 25th year of support for the homeless and vulnerable in Sheffield.
Towards the end of 1989 some of the congregation at Sheffield Cathedral served their first breakfast for homeless people in the old hall. They had noticed that there were quite a few people coming in to the Cathedral for warmth and a cup of tea after the morning service and wanted to do something to help them.
The breakfasts have continued for 25 years, moving from the hall to West Bar and then back to the Cathedral into a purpose built centre in 2007.
However, as with many simple ideas and offers of help, there are usually more complex issues behind the presenting one. This is true for homelessness. The journey into homelessness is complex and frightening and the journey out can be much harder.
Those pioneers of the first breakfasts recognised this and started to offer activities and learning as well as breakfast. Over the years this has evolved into the Cathedral Archer Project we know now.
We are still evolving and looking at new ways to help and support homeless people, learning from them as well as other organisations.
Staff roles have changed from being pastoral and supportive to case working and development roles with most of their previous work now undertaken by people who came to use the project to support their peers.
The new centre has enabled us to offer more activities, better access to the nurse and dentist and to work with people to find out what they want us to do to help them.
Funding requirements have changed as the project has developed. As has the economy around us. We have some excellent support to deliver specific projects, such as our outreach work with the most chaotic rough sleepers to try and support them to engage with services in the city. Also our activities are supported by the Big Lottery. These are more than time fillers and skill builders, they are about improving health and wellbeing, giving people confidence and self-esteem as well as a relaxed opportunity to learn and socialise.
The funding of these projects only covers a small part of our costs, and over 25 years, you have supported us to pay for all the essentials that keep our door open so we can help people. These include our rent, utilities, food, the laundry, staff costs, the phone bill to call other agencies and place people in accommodation and so much more that keeps the centre going, including the essential cups of tea.
One of the people we have supported is John. He has been sleeping rough for many years and had avoided alcohol and drugs. We think he was about 75 but was cantankerous and refused to work with any of the agencies that tried to support him but he did come into the Cathedral. Unfortunately he didn’t smell very nice and we tried to help him keep dressed in clean clothes. On one occasion Sam, our project worker, removed 17 jumpers when she helped undress him. Through Sam’s patience and support and working with other agencies, John is now living in a flat and is doing fantastically well.
Not everyone’s story is the same, nor are they all positive. We need your support to continue to help everyone that needs us.
As part of our anniversary we are asking you to contribute £25. Please consider making this a regular donation as over a year this will support the average cost of helping one person.
To donate please fill in and return this form and you can help us change the lives of more people like John.