What it’s actually like to be homeless in Sheffield

We spoke to someone who formerly lived on the streets of our city

There's no denying that homelessness is a big problem in Sheffield. Whenever you walk down West Street, the amount of people living on the streets is unbelievable.

We spoke to James Creed, a 35-year-old former homeless man, who is sharing his story to show there is light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what.

When I arrived to interview James I was stunned on how many people there were engaging with the Archer Project; it's great that Sheffield has so many amazing projects in place to help vulnerable people but it does highlight how much of a big problem homelessness is in this city. They get between 50 and 70 homeless people visiting them every day for shelter.

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How long were you homeless for and what was the hardest part about being on the streets?

I had been sleeping on the streets and sofa-surfing for seven years. I started to come to the realisation that the reason for my homelessness was through my drug addiction.

The hardest part about being on the streets was not feeling equal. Day-to-day I would see people going on with their lives knowing they had a job and a home. This just made me feel like I wasn’t apart of society really.

How did you stay positive during this traumatic period of your life?

For a long time I didn’t stay positive and cope with these situations. It was all about just finding the practical stuff – finding food and somewhere warm to go. For a long time I used drugs to cope with this situation, so yeah it was very hard to stay positive at that time.

How did you start changing your life around?

The main thing for me, that started to turn things around was when I moved to Sheffield. I was able to seek help from the Archer project. At first I just used it to get a meal and have somewhere warm to go to for a bit, then I started to see that there was actually a lot of support here that I could start using. I started using the services provided from the archer project to help me get clean from my drug addiction.

What advice would you give to somebody facing homelessness?

My advice for people facing homelessness would be to never ever give up. There’s always a way out. There’s places like the Archer project that can really help you, especially in Sheffield. Before I moved to Sheffield I lived in North Wales. I couldn't believe the amount of services provided here for people in the situation of homelessness.

I would also say to anybody who is in this situation, to talk to people and engage in the services. They are there to help, not to judge. I'm now looking forward to actually having a future. For a long time I didn’t care about anything. I am very happy about just enjoying life again.

How would you describe your journey in three words?

Traumatic and worth-while

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The situation of homelessness in Sheffield

Walking into the Cathedral Archer Project made me understand the importance of human beings and how we can be very helpful to people in need. This experience made me realise that this situation could in fact happen to anybody.

There are also young people accessing the shelter, and it really made think how much I take the 'norms' for granted – a roof over my head, food and a supporting family all of which these people do not get.

Making a difference is easy, volunteer, have a chat with them, as it's likely that they don't get much social interaction, and a simple hello could make all the difference. Buy them a hot meal and donate unwanted clothes to a shelter.

The Archer Project offer a tailored based service to cater for everybody's needs, as they know everyone is different and require a variety of services. The Archer Project also helps with getting people connected with authorities to help them along, if need be.