Former rough sleepers are among a new squad of street cleaners brought in to give Sheffield's city centre a morning makeover.
The Street Rangers have been recruited to clear up the mess left by late-night revellers and by homeless people bunking down in business doorways.
They include workers who have experience of sleeping on the streets, and are being offered the chance to get their lives back on track.
The dawn team was brought in by Sheffield's Business Improvement District (BID), which is funded by firms to improve the area, following complaints from company owners arriving each morning to find their premises in a state.
Raided bins and scrap material used as bedding were among the unpleasant surprises awaiting them, along with used cans, vomit and the stench of urine where people had relieved themselves in doorways.
Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID manager, said: "We have a vibrant city centre which is on the cusp of great things. But we can’t ignore the fact there are some environmental hygiene issues. These might not be quite so obvious to visitors, but businesses are being affected by people sleeping rough and others using their shop doorways to relieve themselves late at night."
Alongside experienced street cleaners, the Street Rangers will include individuals from the Just Works project run by the homelessness charity Cathedral Archer Project, some of whom have experience of sleeping rough.
The initiative to give them a leg-up onto the careers ladder is being run in partnership with Sheffield firm Klear Commercial Services.
Diane said: "Recruits to the team are being given an opportunity to get back to work, earning the real living wage. They will also receive additional support and training towards their long-term aspirations as part of the Just Works programme.
"We are using the Street Rangers project to deliver a much-needed service to businesses whilst also helping vulnerable people who were once on the streets, get their lives back on track with employment and skills training. We hope this will be a stepping stone to better employment opportunities for each of them."
Tim Renshaw from the Cathedral Archer Project said: “We are pleased to be working with Sheffield BID to deliver a such a practical solution for businesses. Individuals who come to us for help get access to support from several agencies.
"It's great to be able to offer people employment opportunities as well. A chance to work with the BID will help increase their employability in the future, and that’s what people need … something tangible to take pride in."
The new cleaning team, launched this morning (Monday, June 26), will work from 6am-8am during the week and 6am-9am at weekends clearing the mess which businesses themselves previously had to deal with.
There are two supervisors and up to five individuals from the Just Works programme, though not all will be working the same rota. The scheme is estimated to cost around £35,000 in the first year.
Sheffield BID is also offering its levy payers a rapid-response service for problems outside these hours, as part of its Cleaner programme.