Ex-homeless share success stories after gaining independence thanks to Sheffield charity

Former Sheffield Foyer resident Jacira Monteiro, 20, and son Dexter.
Former Sheffield Foyer resident Jacira Monteiro, 20, and son Dexter.
0
Have your say

You're 17, you've fallen out with your parents, have no job and nowhere to go. You're homeless - where do you turn?

For the past 20 years the answer for hundreds of young people has been Sheffield Foyer.

Kelly Rains, 37, was the first female resident.

Kelly Rains, 37, was the first female resident.

The hostel, based in Spring Lane, Arbouthorne, was set up two decades ago to provide a roof over the head of teenagers and young adults who found themselves without a place to stay.

Since then it has evolved into a charity that offers all kinds of support designed to get those who need its help ready to live independent lives.

The Foyer celebrated its 20th anniversary with a party on Thursday, inviting current residents and neighbours along with Sheffield's Lord Mayor Anne Murphy.

But the most important guests were the many former residents now moving on with their lives.

Paul Watson, cheif executive of Guinness Care and support, Coun Anne Murphy Lord Mayor and Sam Mobbs, Sheffield Foyer manager.

Paul Watson, cheif executive of Guinness Care and support, Coun Anne Murphy Lord Mayor and Sam Mobbs, Sheffield Foyer manager.

Among those celebrating was Kelly Rains. Now 37 and with two children, she was the Foyer's first female resident 20 years ago.

Originally from Scotland, Kelly was put into care when she was 13. She didn't settle, even after going back home, and ended up in Sheffield with 'nowhere to go'.

When Kelly was referred to the Foyer it was just starting up and was little more than a roof over Kelly's head.

"I had nothing when I came here - no family, no support," she said. "It was scary.

Terrell Colphone, 22, now helps people find homes as an apprentice at Sheffield Council.

Terrell Colphone, 22, now helps people find homes as an apprentice at Sheffield Council.

"If it had not been for here I don't think I would have got through it."

Kelly remembers being 'terrified' when she first walked through the door.

"I wondered what I was doing," she said. "I was on my own and had to be a grown up now. It was very daunting."

But she was made to feel welcome by the Foyer staff, and set her mind to the task ahead.

Kye Harrison, 19, hopes to live on his own soon.

Kye Harrison, 19, hopes to live on his own soon.

"I was just trying to survive at that time," said Kelly. "It was a case of getting through each day.

"It was hard being on my own but the staff were absolutely amazing. They helped me through plenty of cries and meltdowns."

A few months later Kelly moved out to live with a friend before getting her own place in Hyde Park Flats. When she was 18 she bought her own house.

Nineteen years on she has two children, 11-year-old Holly and Jack, eight. Life is still tough but she credits her children for keeping her going.

Kelly had not been back to the Foyer until recently, and said it was an 'emotional' return.

She added: "I don't know where I would have been without it. Coming here gave me the kick up the backside I needed."

Andy Outten and Liz White will tackle the Three Peaks in 24 hours to raise money for the Foyer.

Andy Outten and Liz White will tackle the Three Peaks in 24 hours to raise money for the Foyer.

Another ex-resident focusing on children is Jacira Monteiro. The 20-year-old was 18 when she moved into the Foyer, and was pregnant with her young son Dexter during her stay.

Jacira was at college but fell out with her family and was left with nowhere else to go.

She was anxious about the future but determined not to stay for long.

Jacira said: "You do your training and you move on if you are capable - that was my goal when I came here, to show them I was able to live independently."

Those who stay at the Foyer now get a full package of support, with a specific project worker to guide them through their stay. Over a maximum 12 months people are trained in basic life skills to ensure they are ready to live by themselves when they leave.

"The support was great - the staff are amazing," said Jacira.

"It's not that they want to move you out, but if they feel you are ready to go they try to push you."

Jacira remembers mixed feelings the day she left in February 2015.

"I didn't want to leave because I wasn't going to have any staff - but you can come back up here whenever you want.

"If you have got any problems they will try to help you out."

Kye Harrison, 19, has lived at the Foyer for about six months. He too fell out with his family and was left homeless. He spent a week on the streets before being told about the hostel.

"It was something I felt I needed," he said. "Something to help me out in the next step in life.

"I had never lived on my own before."

On arrival Kye was given a basic support package including food, washing tokens and a weekly bus pass.

He started learning to cook and got a job working at the O2 Academy, which meant he could pay rent to the Foyer.

"It's somewhere to stay and get your life back on track," he said.

"I'm looking forward to leaving - I think I'm close to being ready."

Kye is also the LGBT+ rep at the Foyer. The charity is increasingly dealing with people whose sexuality causes problems at home.

"That has given me leadership skills and gives me a chance to help as well," said Kye.

"The world isn't up-to-date and people have their priorities wrong. They need to get with the times.

"It's just people trying to be themselves."

Another Foyer resident who is using his experiences to help others is Terrell Colphon. The 22-year-old moved out of the Foyer about two years ago and is nearing the end of an apprenticeship working in the housing department at Sheffield Council.

Terrell had been through school and college and was part of the Territorial Army but also had family troubles and was not ready to live on his own.

He recognised that he needed the support and training offered at the Foyer.

"It was hard, but I persevered and got through," he said.

"I was here for 11 months - it felt like forever though."

Terrell eventually found a property in Woodhouse, and although moving to a new neighbourhood worried him at first, he began living an independent life.

He started his apprenticeship at the council and through that is now working with Foyer residents to find them properties as they leave.

"Living on my own has been a big experience. You do a lot of reflection, you learn a lot about yourself and you are forced to grow," he said.

"Initially it was a bit tough, trying to settle into a new job and working nine to five. I spent all my holiday in my first year quite quickly.

"But I love my job and the reward I get from seeing where I have been. I'm helping people from where I was. It really boosts the job satisfaction."

The Foyer, which is run by the Guinness Partnership, has launched a campaign to raise £3,000 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Two staff members, Liz White and Andy Outten, will take on a 24-hour Three Peaks challenge on August 26 to try to boost the total.

You can donate to the appeal at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sheffield-foyer.