64-year-old cycling the length of Great Britain for Sheffield homelessness project
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Colin Beresford was himself left ‘hidden homeless’ for six months when he was at university, and stayed in his brother’s attic after his mum moved out to live elsewhere.
He said: “I got free school meals at school, and grants for everything at uni. I was helped out by government actions, which there isn’t so much of now. It was a road out for me, it gave me that leg up, and that’s what the Archer Project is doing.”
The Archer Project works with people who are rough sleeping as well as the hidden homeless, which refers to people who are squatting, sofa surfing, or housed in other vulnerable situations.
Colin has raised more than doubled his target, currently sitting at £2,070, and hopes he might hit £2,500 or £3,000 by the time he starts his cycle.
He will begin at Land’s End, the furthest west point of mainland England, on August 14, and make his way to the furthest north point of mainland Scotland, John O'Groats, to arrive on August 23.
Francesca Scotrick-Boyd, communications and fundraising lead at the Archer Project, said: “I think it’s amazing that he has gone over his fundraising aim, it’s incredible. We have been so impressed by his efforts. He’s going to be very sore afterwards, but I'm sure it will be worth it!”
In training, Colin has been cycling up to 200 miles per week around the Peak District. He has recently taken a step back to not aggravate his aches and pains from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a condition similar to arthritis.
He said: “It is a bit of a strain on a 64-year-old body. I’ve had the condition for 30 years, and I have a lot of creaks and aches which I don’t want to let stop me.
“I have done the route before for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I did say then, if we were still capable I’d [do it] again in 10 years time, and I’ve foolishly kept my word!”
Colin is the Chairman of Primary Care Sheffield (PCS), which coordinates GP services across the city.
Colin said: “While working at PCS, I’ve had that deprivation brought home, seeing it first hand again. I’m from a bit of a rough-and-tough council estate in Stannington, and 50 years ago I was working class, but you forget how you used to live.”
On his JustGiving page, he says, “My pain and hardship is nothing compared to sleeping on the streets every night, but hopefully it will give you some further impetus to sponsor me to raise at least £1000, a pound for each mile I cover.”
Colin is taking on the challenge with a friend, Paul Wainwright, who is doing it in aid of mental health charity Mind.
Francesca added: “People who come to us can then work with people here who have lived experience which is really important because they can relate to the people they are trying to support.
“We aim not to just give things to people, it's so they are able to be independent and get to a place they want to be.”