A CHARITY used to helping Sheffield’s homeless has added a new dimension to its work - helping eastern European migrants who have been unable to find work and ended up destitute in the city.
In the last 12 months the St Wilfrid’s Centre, based on Queen’s Road in Heeley, has assisted six Polish nationals, two Rumanians, one Latvian and a Czech man, Zdenek Belaska.
The migrants came to the city expecting to work but - after problems including homelessness - had to return home.
A spokeswoman for the St Wilfrid’s Centre said: “When you have little command of the language and have to face complex and confusing bureaucracy life can be very frightening, especially when you have nowhere to sleep and no money in your pocket.
“Mr Belaska had arrived in England from the Czech Republic having been tricked into paying money in return for the promise of a job in Sheffield.
“To make matters worse, he was mugged and could not speak a word of English.
“He arrived at St Wilfrid’s unable to communicate his needs and was frustrated to the point of tears.
“ Mr Belaska was given a meal and returned the following day.
“An advice centre had been trying to help him and St Wilfrid’s contacted them after using the services of a volunteer who spoke Slovakian as an interpreter.
“It transpired he had been sleeping rough for weeks and all he really wanted to do was go home.
“The worker at the advice centre had taken him to the Homeless Section and various other agencies but because of rules and regulations they were unable to help him.
“St Wilfrid’s did not have this problem and to them the answer was quite simple - purchase a ticket so he could go home.”
The charity gave him new clothes, food and the chance of a shower, then arranged his return trip by coach.
Kevin Bradley director, said: “To us the solution seemed very simple and to see the jubilation on Mr Belaska’s face when we were able to tell him that we had got him a ticket home was a sight to behold.
“A lot of time and effort was expended on trying to help Mr Belaska. The wages that must have been paid to the various officials who were trying to sort out his case many times outweighs the amount that was actually required to give him what he needed - a lift home.
“Many people seem to suffer because officialdom complicates things. To us at St Wilfrid’s an £84 ticket was all that was needed to give a person their life and dignity back.”