Leeds businessman’s chance encounter with homeless man sees him set up charity

BRIDGE OF SIGHS: Geoff Shepherd who has raised �2,000 for the homeless after meeting a rough sleeper on a Leeds bridge.

BRIDGE OF SIGHS: Geoff Shepherd who has raised �2,000 for the homeless after meeting a rough sleeper on a Leeds bridge.

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A Leeds businessman has started his own homeless charity following a chance meeting with a homeless man on the city’s streets.

Geoff Shepherd came up the idea of Ho Ho Ho Homeless at Christmas after his two sons Connor, eight and four-year-old Parker saw a man sleeping rough on Centenary Bridge and wanted to know why the man had no home.

“We got talking to the man, who was called Kevin, and in the end I offered him some money,” explains businessman Geoff.

“He refused to take it, instead saying it was Christmas and so I should spend it on the boys.

“I wasn’t expecting that and when I insisted he took the money he reached into his bag and brought out a Christmas card which he wrote to us to say thank you.

“When we got home the boys kept asking about the man and it got me thinking.

“I decided that there must be something I could to help him and other homeless people this Christmas.”

Geoff has raised more than £2,000 in cash which he has spent creating winter warmer packs which will be handed out to the homeless.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do but I put it out on social media and the response was amazing.”

Geoff has maintained he friendship with Kevin, who is now no longer homeless thanks to Geoff who has found him accommodation for a month and paid for it.

“I saw him a few days ago and he looked like a different person.”

Kevin has become a constant source of conversation in the Shepherd household. Kevin is on his own and he has invited us for Christmas and we might well pop in and say hi.

“The boys ask after him all the time.”

He added: ““Sleeping rough is dangerous.

“Just the other day Kevin was beaten up trying to help some young people who were being attacked – that’s the type of person he is.”

Date: 23rd June 2017.
Picture James Hardisty.
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