Homeless centre in £1.8m appeal launch

Artist's impression of St Wilfrid's residential complax
Artist's impression of St Wilfrid's residential complax

A £1.8 MILLION appeal is being launched today (Thursday) for a residential unit linked to a Sheffield centre for homeless and other vulnerable people.

The aim is to provide accommodation for up to two years for clients at St Wilfrid’s in Queens Road while they attend classes at the day centre and develop their social skills and increase their chances of finding a job.

Plans for a nearby site have been approved, and now the fundraising begins in earnest.

Already it has been adopted by the London-based charity, Path to Success, thanks to the support of St Wilfrid’s patron Simrin Choudhrie, the businesswomman who highlighted its work on the Channel 4 TV programme, Secret Millionaire, as she posed as an impoverished mother-to-be.

Centre director Kevin Bradley said it had been a dream for many years to build a residential unit to work in conjunction with the day centre.

“We plan to provide safe, fixed term accommodation for clients most in need. Our proposed residential unit for up to 50 people would be based a short walk from the existing day centre, putting into practice all of our 22 years’ knowledge about vulnerable people, their needs and how these are to be met, breaking the cycle of homelessness and exclusion.”

After the two years, clients would be helped to find permanent accommodation and live independently.

Numbers of people declared homeless in Sheffield rose by 38% in 2011, said Mr Bradley, many because of mental health problems.

St Wilfrid’s aims to give them the support to live independently during their training.

Some people who become homeless may not be able to read and write, and consequently their mental health may deteriorate.

“Moving into a new home for many people can be a traumatic experience and just to give people a council flat does not always work. Within weeks the new tenant may become frightened and because of literacy needs may be unable to read the bills that pop through the door. This causes them to run away, possibly to the next town.”

Mr Bradley added: “We know that in the current economic climate new build projects are going to be few and far between. However we know that the men and women we serve need this help now, not in five years’ time, so all staff and volunteers are determined to get this built, hopefully within 18 months.”

Alongside the appeal, St Wilfrid’s needs to secure donations to keep going the existing centre.

The launch is being attended by civic dignitaries, business representatives and politicians.

Simrin Choudhrie is also due to be there.