Former Sheffield homeless man plans fundraising walk to sat '˜thank you' for help
David Staley is now living '¨a happy life in full-time '¨employment, working in '¨a call centre.
But when the 30-year-old split up from his 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 is to walk 80 miles from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast to raise money to repay the charity for helping him get back on his feet.
His position now is a million miles away from when he slept rough in a car park.
“I stopped in a car park near the Hallamshire, it was under construction at the time next to the student union so I could get in,” said David, of Lowedges.
“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.”
David recalled the turning point where police 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.”
David said it is easy to have stereotypes about homeless people but believes many are like him who previously lived normal lives.
“People sometimes think homeless people are just layabouts and druggies but I wasn’t one of these people, 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,” he said.
“It was a culture shock for me. You do have stereotypes, it’s easy to have them but until you’re in that situation – because you never expect it to happen – then you don’t understand.
“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 have done if it wasn’t for them.”
David will set off on foot from the cathedral on Friday, November 11, and will 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 .