'I begged the police to lock me up' - Sheffield man to 'repay' charity by taking part in 90 mile walk after helping him when homeless

Wednesdayite David Staley is walking in his Owls shirt from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington to raise cash for the Archer Project homeless charity who helped him in his hour of need.
Wednesdayite David Staley is walking in his Owls shirt from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington to raise cash for the Archer Project homeless charity who helped him in his hour of need.
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A former Sheffield homeless man said at his lowest point he begged police to lock up.

David Staley, 30, of Lowedges, is now living a happy life in full-time employment working in a call centre.

A possible route from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington. David said he's been promised an extra 100 if he walks across the Humber bridge

A possible route from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington. David said he's been promised an extra 100 if he walks across the Humber bridge

But when David split up from his ex-partner in April, he found himself in an impossible position and slept rough for two weeks' before he found help.

With no food, money or anyone he felt he could turn to, David hit rock bottom and police officers directed him to the Archer Project after he begged them to lock him up.

The Archer Project based at Sheffield Cathedral helped David out in his hour of need and now the 30-year-old wants to give something back.

He's walking an incredible 90 miles from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast. David said he wanted to repay the charity for helping him get back on his feet.

David Staley is walking from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington to raise cash for the Archer Project homeless charity who helped him in his hour of need

David Staley is walking from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington to raise cash for the Archer Project homeless charity who helped him in his hour of need

But his position now is a million miles from when he slept rough in a car park.

"I stopped in a car park near the Hallamshire Hospital, it was under construction at the time next to the student union.

"It's horrible, it's not nice at all and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

"It's cold, it's wet and it's incredible lonely. You're left on your own with your own thoughts.

South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and MP Yvette Cooper on a previous visit to the Archer Project

South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and MP Yvette Cooper on a previous visit to the Archer Project

Sheffield Wednesday fan David recalled the turning point where police officers told him he could find help.

"I actually got that desperate one night I went to the police station on Snig Hill. I went to the officers and begged them to lock me up for the night.

"It was chucking it down with rain, it was freezing and all I had on was a pair of jeans, a jumper and that was it. I had no sleeping bag I was desperate.

"The officers referred me to the Archer Project and it went from there. I never knew places like this existed.

The Archer Project provides sanctuary for the city's homeless providing hot meals and advice on how they can get back on their feet

The Archer Project provides sanctuary for the city's homeless providing hot meals and advice on how they can get back on their feet

David said it's easy to have stereotypes about homeless people and think many are like him who previously lived normal lives.

"It was a culture shock for me, you do have stereotypes it's easy to have them but until you're in a situation, because you never expect it to happen, then you understand," he said.

"I didn't want to be homeless but I found myself in a situation where there was no other way at the time. It could happen to anyone.

"Being on the streets alone is one of the scariest things I have ever been through and without the help from the Archer Project I dread to think where I would be now.

"They gave me a hot meal, they washed my clothes and got me access to a phone and the internet to sort out any benefit claims and they point you in the right direction in terms of work. I had a mentor and they gave me support when I needed it the most.

"I was taken aback about how much they wanted to help me and to turn my life around for the better. I don't know what I'd of done if it wasn't for them."

People sleeping rough outside Sheffield Cathedral fundraising for the Archer Project

People sleeping rough outside Sheffield Cathedral fundraising for the Archer Project

The mammoth walk, which begins on Friday, November 11 will see David set off on foot from the cathedral where he'll be joined by a friend during his Rotherham and Doncaster leg.

He will then continue towards Driffield where he will meet members of a Bridlington charity who provide similar services to the Archer project who will accompany him on the final 15 miles.

David is hoping to raise £500 for the Archer Project when he . Click here to visit his page.

About the Archer Project

By 1989, Sheffield Cathedral had become a regular place of shelter for people who had nowhere else to go on the back of high levels of unemployment in the city in the 80s.

The congregation responded by providing them with a basic breakfast.

Alan Turner, a Church Army Captain, was tasked with overseeing the breakfast and working with those who attended.

The Archer Project quickly established itself as a city centre venue where homeless people felt welcome.

What started as tea and toast served by members of the Cathedral congregation has developed and expanded into a service designed to help homeless people to improve their lives.

In 2007, the Archer Project moved in to their own purpose build premises within the Cathedral containing showers and laundry services, interview rooms for 1-1 work, a lounge area with computers, a professional kitchen, a medical room and an education/activity room.

It has allowed the project to work with many other agencies and provided a service of greater breadth and depth than they were previously capable of.