When I arrived at St Wilfrid’s Centre for my meeting with Madeleine Thomas, Fundraising and Marketing Manager, there was a real hubbub as soon as I walked in. It was cup of tea o’clock, and staff, clients and volunteers were all mingling together near the café, chatting about this and that, ready to quench their thirst with a cuppa. I joined them, and lost count of the number of people who said hello to me – talk about a friendly welcome!
For those who don’t know about St Wilfrid’s, give us a brief overview of the work that you do here.
We are a day centre who support homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded adults in the city, and have been running since 1991. We provide practical assistance, understanding, a sense of belonging and the support to regain self esteem, and our Centre fosters a real sense of community and togetherness. We are supported by an amazing team of 140 or so volunteers, and together we work with around 500 clients every year.
Some clients attend for one off sessions; perhaps a person who is homeless, and attends to use our showers, have a meal and receive a clothes parcel. Other clients have been with us for years. Reasons for referral are very varied – we provide support for those who are socially excluded who may attend for company, warmth, to see a friendly face and have a hot meal, others have learning difficulties or mental health conditions, so have more complex needs. Whenever we receive a new referral, our team work through an individual support package with the client, to make sure that their needs are met in the best way possible.
We run a wide range of classes and activities, ranging from drama and music to computer literacy, woodwork and pottery, and have workshops on site where clients can make items to sell to raise funds to support the work of the Centre. Our café and kitchen are well used as you can see, and our dining hall is set out with tables laid for our clients to experience meals in a sociable and dignified way. We also organise day trips for our clients, recently to the seaside and Yorkshire Wildlife Park – there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.
Your Sleep Out is taking place in a couple of weeks at Abbeydale Picture House – tell us a little about that and what you are hoping to achieve.
The two main aims of the Sleep Out are to raise funds to support our work, and to raise awareness of the issues that our clients may face. We hope to provide an amazing opportunity for people to sleep in this iconic building for the very first time, whilst also ensuring that the social issues we address are kept at the forefront of their minds.
The venue is beautiful; it’s being lovingly and painstakingly restored by CADS, and provides the perfect backdrop to this event. I couldn’t think of a more epic space to hold the event at in the whole of the city, and the fact that it is just up the road only enhances the sense of community, which is what St Wilfrid’s is all about.
We have a full evening’s entertainment arranged, featuring live sets from 20ft Squid Blues Band and Open Jaw Fayre, along with performances by several of our clients who will be showcasing their skills in drama, poetry and music – it’s sure to be one of the most varied but fun evenings around! After a light supper, we’ll all bed down for the night, and then, just in case people are a little stiff after a night spent sleeping on a cold floor, we have a morning yoga session planned and breakfast before everyone heads home.
A few of our clients will be joining the Sleep Out too themselves, including Le-ann (who’s story you can read here) which is just brilliant, and is testament to the support they’ve received during their time with us, that they are so motivated and determined to give back in some way. If you’d like to sponsor Le-ann, you can visit her Just giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/le-ann-proctor1
We have teams from local businesses joining us, along with students from Notre Dame and All Saints high schools – the whole team, including me are really looking forward to it.
How can SheffGives followers get involved and lend their support, to both your upcoming Sleep Out, and in the longer term?
Come and join us – we still have spaces to join the Sleep Out! If you’d rather show your support in other ways, then grab a few friends and come to our evening’s entertainment – I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed! Evening Entertainment Flyer
In the longer term, we are always in need of volunteers and fundraisers. Our volunteers work in our café and kitchen, our workshop and pottery room, as welcomers and befrienders in the Centre, and on our allotment – there’s always something to get involved in, wherever your interests and skills lie. We’d love to have you!
On the fundraising side, check our events page for organised events to sign up for, but if you’d like to hold your own event then just contact us and we’ll go from there. We are proud that we keep our running costs to an absolute minimum, meaning that every penny raised go exactly where it is needed.
And finally, what is the best thing about working for St Wilfrid’s?
The variety! There’s always something going on, and I love that I can pop downstairs from my office and mingle with the clients and volunteers and have those special face to face conversations that really make a difference to somebody’s day, including mine. St Wilf’s is such a warm, caring and positive place, and has a really special atmosphere, from the moment you are greeted at the door. I love it here, and that motivates me to do more to make it even better for our clients.
Hope the Sleep Out is a great success St Wilf’s ❤