The Leeds outreach worker who says he 'would be dead' without Change Grow Live homelessness charity

Ryan Snape.
Ryan Snape.

A Leeds outreach worker has said he would be “in prison or dead” if it was not for turning his life around after being referred to Change Grow Live.

As the YEP continues its series on homelessness, rough sleeping and begging in Leeds, Ryan Snape told us about his journey.

In his early- to mid-20s, he toured with cruise ships as a professional dancer after graduating from the Northern Ballet School in Manchester.

After returning home to Leeds, there was a breakdown in a relationship and with his family.

It led to him “sofa surfing” and rough sleeping in his late 20s.

Read more: New review to examine deaths of homeless in Leeds
During that period, Mr Snape drank lots and, when it was offered, took cocaine, ketamine and mephedrone recreationally.

He said: “It got to a point where I had given up on my life - I didn’t really see any light at the end of the tunnel. I was using drugs, drinking quite often.

“I was referred to the street outreach team. I’m not being corny with this - it saved my life. I would have ended up in prison, or dead. I just didn’t care anymore.”

After a short stay with the St George’s Crypt shelter, Mr Snape moved into a private rented home.

Read more: Leeds council boss: ‘One person sleeping rough is one too many’
He also attended a CGL mentoring scheme, allowing him to go out with the outreach team.

Later, he was offered the chance to volunteer with the organisation, which included more responsibilities, and he found paid work at Poundland.

“That was a stepping stone,” he said. “For quite a substantial amount of time, there was no structure in my life - Monday was Wednesday, Wednesday was Friday.”

Read more: Family tribute to ‘gentle giant’ of Leeds’s streets
Mr Snape, who is now 33, then applied for a vacant position and was employed as an outreach worker by CGL in August last year.

He is also settled with a partner, Lindsay, and his four-year-old daughter, Georgia.

“I feel very privileged. I feel very lucky,” he said.

“How many people can wake in the morning and say they look forward to work?”

In a message to anyone not sure of taking outreach support, he said: “Trust services. I’ve in the past maybe been apprehensive and maybe had certain opinions. I’ve seen both sides, now I’m on the other side. The people I work with, they’ve got the best interests and we just want to help.”

CGL is a charity that provides free treatment and support to vulnerable people facing addiction, homelessness and domestic abuse.

It can be contacted on 0113 245 9445 or by email at