Cathedral Archer Project marks 25th anniversary with giant touring Christmas card

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A homeless project which turns around the lives of desperate and vulnerable people in Sheffield is marking its 25th anniversary.

To mark the occasion a giant Christmas card is making its way around organisations in Sheffield to be signed by supporters of the Cathedral Archer Project.

NSST Archer Road Project 25th anniversary. Neil MacDonald chair of board of trustees, Tim Renshaw, chief executive and Rev Peter Bradley Dean of Sheffield

NSST Archer Road Project 25th anniversary. Neil MacDonald chair of board of trustees, Tim Renshaw, chief executive and Rev Peter Bradley Dean of Sheffield

The project began in 1981 when the congregation at Sheffield Cathedral began serving breakfast to a few homeless people.

The Cathedral Archer Project was born when the cathedral started working with homeless adults, offering warmth and food to a growing number of people.

Tim Renshaw, the project’s chief executive, said: “This is not so much of a celebration as we wouldn’t like to be here.

“If we go back five years there was a plan that said homelessness would end by 2018.

“That isn’t going to be the case, but as the market picks up hopefully we will develop - helping more people get their lives back together rather than getting people off the street.”

He said when the project began it soon became clear that there were greater issues to be dealt with than just getting people off the streets.

“People started talking and they realised there were greater issues,” he said.

“People needed things like meaningful activity and basic support.

“That is really what we do now but we do it in much greater detail now.”

Around 70 people attend the project and many are helped by those who have also been in a similar situation themselves.

Robert Ebbage, aged 51, found himself homeless a year ago when he was caught drink driving. He lost his job and car and his marriage broke down.

The former bathroom and kitchen salesman has stable accommodation in a Pitsmoor bedsit and helps at the project.

He said: “It has been life changing. I help out and it gives me something to focus on and keeps me off the streets because I don’t want to let anyone down.”