A Sheffield minister-in-training has made it his mission to help care for the city’s homeless this winter.
Along with his assembled team of volunteers, Toby Butler has been hitting the streets of Sheffield regularly for the past three months, handing out coats, scarves and gloves and offering support where its needed as the temperatures continue to plummet.
The dad-of-two, who lives with his family in Netheredge, says he felt compelled to help as he regularly passes hoards of homeless and suffering people on his way to work, at The Well Church on Ecclesall Road.
“I had a real stir in spirit to go and do something to reach out to the homeless people in the city; people I pass every day on London Road and in the city centre who seemingly have nothing,” said Toby, aged 31.
“In my work for World Church, I oversee about 70-100 18 to 30 year olds; young professionals and students for whom all is going well. I know how important charity is, but I also think nothing beats face-to-face contact. Standing in solidarity with people and making it personal is what sticks and is, in the end, what can actually change your heart, rather than just giving money. I put together a team of about 14 people who head out into the city with me, on Wednesday or Friday nights throughout the month.
“We started on Freshers Week, in September, chatting to homeless people, taking out cups of tea and bars of chocolate, as well as any warm clothing we could get our hands on. We direct people to warm beds for the night when possible and offer any support we can.
“I’m always impressed by how much faith these people have, I talk with them, and pray with them.
“My volunteers give their own time, working with me through the night and then getting up to head to their offices the next day. It’s a beautiful thing.”
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