'˜Silent Night, Lonely Night?' '“Â Sheffield charity's campaign liftsÂ the lid on what its like to be homeless at Christmas
The Cathedral Archer Project's Christmas appeal aims to lift the lid on how lonely this time of year can be for those in our city who have the least.
The '˜Silent Night, Lonely Night' campaign hopes to raise Â£15,000 for the Campo Lane charity, as well as raising the profile of homelessness in the minds of residents.
Project bosses want the appeal to make people think about what life is really like for people who are homeless at this time of year, and help them by giving generously.
Deputy CEO, Jo Parnell, said: 'Christmas is awful when you are homeless. Everyone is Christmas shopping and you are not and it's cold and it's wet - it is just a really emotional time of year.
'We also see an increase in people coming through our doors at this time of year because of relationship breakdown and domestic violence often caused by substance abuse.
'Normally we see about 70 people a day but that goes up to 80 or even 90 at this time of year and more people are also drawn to Sheffield from other parts of South Yorkshire which have fewer services at Christmas.'
The Archer Project's Christmas campaign features videos, photos and stories from people who have used their service and turned their lives around.
These include the story of Matt who had been sleeping on on a chair in an office space for more than four months when he first came to the centre.
He originally came to the project just asking for help for his dog, but staff quickly realised he was suffering from depression and needed somewhere to live.
With the Archer Project's support, Matt attended GP appointments regularly, opened a bank account, sorted his benefits and now has his own home for him and his dog.
'But it not just about people sleeping rough - that is just the most visible part of the problem,' adds Jo.
'People don't see the hidden homeless. Those who are sleeping on other people's floors, in hostels or in emergency bed and breakfasts.'
All the money raised in the Christmas appeal will go towards providing the things that the project does throughout the year.
These include providing breakfasts and lunches and a place that service users can have a shower and get their laundry done.
It will also help pay for the health services they provide at the centre from nurses, doctors and dentists and the help they offer in terms of clients accessing a postal address, benefits and bank accounts.
And it will allow them to continue giving people who can often have very little enjoyment in their lives opportunities for arts and crafts and day trips to the seaside - things the rest of us take for granted.
All these services are provided by just 15 full-time staff and a number of part time workers, but Jo says nothing would be possible without the assistance of the project'˜s 40-strong team of volunteers.
While the centre is perhaps best known as a place for people in crisis, they also want to better highlight the work they do with their clients on the process of recovery.
'We want to be able to invest more time to support our client's journeys through their lives,' says Jo.
'The idea is for the project to provide a way of people getting from sleeping bag to employment.'
'People's entire journey can take from between three and nine years so it can be a massive investment on our part.'
The project closes for the year on December 21, two days after their annual Christmas party.
The very next day, however, a team of volunteers take over and keep the centre operational until the New Year.
HARC - Homeless and Rootless at Christmas - is staffed entirely by people who give up their Christmas to help others.
'We have families that do it including a woman with two teenage boys who come in on Christmas morning,' says Jo.
'We also get more donations this time of year including one women who knits literally hundreds of hats, gloves and socks.'
The Silent Night appeal has already begun and will run throughout December and into the New Year.
To contribute to the fund, visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/silentnight.
Archer Project Stats
In 2017, the Cathedral Archer Project saw on average 75 people a day and provided...
862 food parcels
155 nurse appointments
633 loads of laundry
Turned on the shower 1,250 times
Supported more than 1,300 people in total