Working hard to break ‘spiral’ of homelessness

Verity Griffiths talks to shoppers on World Homeless Day.

Verity Griffiths talks to shoppers on World Homeless Day.

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Snacks made by the homeless were handed out to shoppers in Leeds city centre to highlight the work done by charity St George’s Crypt.

Volunteers and staff spoke to people on Briggate and in City Square and collected donations to mark World Homeless Day. (Oct 10)

The Crypt runs a training programme called Nurture, which offers service-users the chance to gain catering skills and potentially go on to work in one of the charity’s four cafés across the city.

Staff member Verity Griffiths said: “We’re trying to break the image of what a homeless shelter is – we offer far more than soup and a bed.

“We have training and skills development, we have Opera North coming in every week running workshops with the guys – it’s all to break the idea they have that there are barriers.”

World Homeless Day started four years ago and is now recognised in more than 100 countries.

It aims to highlight the plight of homeless people and show how the public can help.

Coun Bill Urry, the lead for homelessness on Leeds City Council, said: “Every homeless person is an individual with all the diverse needs that everyone has.

“For more than 80 years St George’s Crypt has supported homeless people, not just in finding immediate food and shelter, but in working with them as individuals to develop more settled futures.

“World Homeless Day should remind us all that the issues that led to the Crypt’s opening up in the 1930s are just as real and important today as they ever were.”

Among the services run by the Crypt is work with hospital-leavers who would otherwise end up on the streets.

The Brain Injury Trust runs assessments of clients and a physiotherapist from Leeds Beckett University carries out sessions at the charity.

St George’s Crypt chief executive Chris Fields said: “As a city, we can alleviate the issues creating and compounding homelessness mainly by working in partnership, offering a multi-faceted approach which allows for solutions based around the individual needs of each person.

“That support has to continue to break the spiral of failures which lead to a life on the streets.”

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