Former rough sleeper praises Leeds charity as he starts new job and applies for university

A former rough sleeper has praised a Leeds charity for helping him turn his life around, as he starts a new job and applies for university.

By Abbey Maclure
Thursday, 14th November 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 14th November 2019, 2:01 pm
Ryan Jones has transformed his life and will apply to study psychology at university next year
Ryan Jones has transformed his life and will apply to study psychology at university next year

35-year-old Ryan Jones, from Halifax, found himself homeless in Leeds after he struggled coming to terms with the death of his mum.

He ended up hooked on drugs but is now on a methadone programme and has transformed his life - with help from Leeds charity Homeless Street Angels.

Ryan recently started a job at the warehouse of Skopes menswear in Leeds, after a partnership between owner Simon Cope and Homeless Street Angels.

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Becky and Shelley Joyce - founders of Homeless Street Angels charity based in Leeds

The charity, run by sisters Becky and Shelley Joyce, put Ryan forward for the position after he showed he was committed to "getting his life back".

Now, Simon at Skopes will sponsor Ryan as he applies to study psychology at university next year.

Ryan said: "I couldn't believe it, I'm still pinching myself now. It's everything I wanted.

"I'm going to have a good Christmas for the first time in years, thanks to Becky and Simon."

The Homeless Street Angels outreach team working in Leeds city centre

Ryan was rehoused by Leeds City Council in March, but the flat he was given in Burmantofts was completely bare, without basic amenities like lightbulbs.

Homeless Street Angels fully kitted out his flat with a new cooker, fridge and double bed and high-spec furnishings like a leather sofa and a huge TV.

Becky said: “He is so proud, telling everyone it’s like a ‘footballers pad’. He even went to charity shops to buy canvases and did all the finishing touches himself.

“He’s kept it immaculate, even though he struggles with organisation. We have regular visits to check how he is and to see if he has any issues.

"He doesn't need us, but we're there. I’m so proud of him I could burst.”

Homeless Street Angels was set up by Becky and Shelley three years ago to not only provide rough sleepers with tents and food, but also rehouse them and help them into employment.

Becky, who was formerly addicted to heroin and a rough sleeper herself, hopes to set up a day centre in Leeds to help the homeless to rebuild their lives.

Ryan said: "She's helped me get this job and given me clothing and food parcels.

"I don't know what the homeless would do without [the charity]. There is no help available.

"She's stopped me from being a shoplifter and turned me into a working, normal member of society.

"I couldn't have done it without her."