We can not believe it has been seven years since the amazing Simrin Choudrie visited undercover at St Wilfrid’s Centre as part of the Secret Millionaire television series.
Her unbelievable £100,000 donation to the centre kick started fundraising for our visionary homeless housing project, which all those years ago only seemed like a dream to us.
But now the dream we had has become a reality and tomorrow our £2 million housing project, officially opens. And this provides a vital lifeline to some of Sheffield’s most vulnerable homeless people.
The project provides homes to around 20 individuals housed in self-contained apartments. The residents of the apartments all have a history of homelessness and will each receive support in their homes, in the ground floor training spaces plus, of course, at the St Wilfrid’s Centre itself.
This opening of the homeless project is the culmination of more than ten years of hard work in order to fulfil our vision of providing much-needed supported accommodation alongside the excellent daytime assistance and training that we already offer to homeless people and also vulnerable and socially excluded adults.
At a time when several new housing schemes have stalled and the number of vulnerable, homeless people on the city’s streets appears to be continuing to grow, it feels to us particularly timely for us to open St Wilfrid’s Place, which is the first new supported housing development of its kind to have opened for many years.
And already we have clients who are benefitting from it.
Sarah, who has spent her life either in prison or on the streets, says she has been given a second chance thanks to St Wilfrid’s Place. She has spent the majority of her life dealing with an abusive childhood and her offending behaviour is a direct result of that abuse. She has lived in lots of different places and has regularly been homeless, sleeping rough many times.
After serving a lengthy prison sentence, Sarah was released to Sheffield and referred to St Wilfrid’s Centre by her probation officer. The city was all new to her, but we were able to offer her support, somewhere safe to go to during the day and the ability to join in with some of our activities.
Sarah comes to us a few days a week for meals, activities and to make friends. It is a place she can go for company and something to focus on during the day. Aside from this, there is also emotional support for her. Our staff and volunteers support her when she is upset.
She says the residential centre is a lifeline for her. She wants the opportunity to change her life. She plans to go to college to study. She wants to live independently in a place of her own, somewhere safe. Her ambition is to work or volunteer in a shop and to get off benefits.
This flat will change her life, it has given Sarah the chance of a new life. Thanks to our supporters, Sarah and so many others are not living on the streets. We couldn’t be more proud.