Greggs manager 'gobsmacked' by progress of former homeless man she fed each morning

A Greggs manager who helped feed a homeless man who slept outside her shop for more than a year told the YEP she was "gobsmacked" by his progress.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 4:45 pm

Shelagh Wheeldon, 45, bought breakfast each morning for Josh Ellis 25, who was homeless and sleeping to the side of the Kirkstall Road store in freezing temperatures every night.

As reported in the YEP yesterday, Josh was addicted to both cocaine and spice for nearly two years.

However, he has now been clean from drugs for more than 120 days after getting help and being supported by Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds, a charity based in the city fronted by Hayden Lee.

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Shelagh Wheeldon and Josh Ellis

He has even started to work as a landscaper thanks to help from the charity, who helped him find somewhere to live.

Speaking to the YEP on Tuesday following phenomenal support from the public for her generosity, Shelagh said her "heart used to go" as she drove up to the shop shortly after 5am each morning to see Josh outside.

Together with other staff and friendly customers, Josh - who Shelagh said never begged for food or was a nuisance - was fed and given drinks to keep him healthy.

Shelagh had not seen Josh for more than four months since he was saved by the Leeds charity.

He returned to surprise her on Monday in emotional scenes at the Kirkstall Road store where he spent so many months.

Shelagh said she couldn't believe how much Josh had changed and grown in such a short space of time.

He now has new clothes, new teeth and is working thanks to the help of the charity.

Shelagh said: "He was in the door step of the shop for a very long time.

"My heart used to go when I turned up at the shop and saw him, but I also worried when I didn't.

"I wouldn't stop thinking about him, he was such a lovely kid.

"He was very popular and likeable.

"We used to talk every morning."

Shelagh told the YEP that Josh was saved once before from outside the shop by an amazing JustEat driver, who helped him get a job delivering food on a bike and even got him some clothes and a phone.

This was short lived however as Josh's bike was sadly stolen and he returned to the doorway.

Shelagh said: "He never asked for anything at all.

"He was such a good kid.

"Our customers used to like him and he was always looked after here."

Shelagh has been following Josh's story on the YEP and the charity Facebook page.

She described him as "a kind soul" and had been "gobsmacked" by his progress.

Shelagh even spoke of the time Josh carried out an act of generosity of his own.

She said: "One Christmas, Josh had saved up some money he had been given outside the shop and been to buy me some chocolate to thank us for buying him food.

"He was that type of lad, such a kind soul."

Shelagh said the difference in Josh after just four months was noticeable.

She added: "He seems so tall now and he has put a bit of weight on which is great.

"He will do it, I know he will.

"The program they have set up is great.

"I am really optimistic for his future.

"I am just so glad it was my shop he was saved from outside and we could look after him.

"It is a happy ending."