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How St Wilfrid's helps homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded people in Sheffield

5th August, 2019
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Who are you and what do you do?

I'm Wayne Hoyle, I joined as Director of St Wilfrid's in October last year. I'm 44 and have enjoyed living in Sheffield for over 10 years. The centre is effectively a therapeutic community in which staff and volunteers work with people who have experienced multiple disadvantage such as homelessness, mental health, substance misuse and trauma. As well as one to one support, we have a timetable of group activities, a cafe and a social enterprise. I started my career teaching English in HMP & YOI Doncaster and, as well as managing a range of support services for over 20 years, I have worked predominantly in youth justice; this included co-ordinating the city council's response to gang and youth violence following the youth riots in 2011. In my spare time, I have acted in a number of Sheffield Theatre Productions as well as Frost/Nixon. I DJ occasionally and regularly contribute to Now Then magazine. 

Tell us a little about the projects/work you’re currently carrying out

There is a great deal happening in the centre at the moment but, creative-wise, we have just successfully secured a Music Therapist from the charity, Nordoff Robbins, who will be starting with us in September. We have also been successful in our application to be part of the Off the Shelf Festival fringe programme of activities where some of our clients will be presenting pieces of poetry, creative fiction and non-fiction

How do you think creativity can help homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded individuals?

Creativity enables any of us to switch off from everyday or even lifelong trauma. Repeated positive engagement in this type of activity might not solve people's problems but at least it provides much needed respite from them. It also allows some of our clients to express themselves if they struggle to articulate their thoughts or feelings in other ways. I've loved trying new things alongside clients at the centre, this has included making my first ever pot in pottery. The support that I got from my fellow students who could see I was completely out of my comfort zone was amazing and sums up what the centre is all about.

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What more could Sheffield do as a city to assist the people you support?

The centre prides itself on being a welcoming and safe environment for people. Unfortunately, there's not always the same level of tolerance or understanding out in the community. One of the areas that we're interested in doing some work is better understanding the extent and impact of learning disability hate crime. Although it's not as prevalent as other forms of abuse, it has an inordinate impact on individuals who have already experienced significant trauma in their lives.

How long have you been involved in the Guild and why did you originally join?

I joined the Guild earlier this year because the arts activities we have at the centre including drama, singing, creative writing and painting are massively important to our clients. I'm really interested in finding opportunities for us to connect with other groups and initiatives outside of the centre as well as getting involved in other forms of creative pursuits.

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How can people help or get involved?

As an organisation, we already receive so much support from individuals, community groups and business in Sheffield in many different ways - and we have such a large and dedicated group of volunteers. However, we are always looking for more people and we have lots of different roles available from meeting and greeting clients when they arrive to helping out in the cafe or kitchen.   

What’s next for St. Wilfrid’s?

Staff and volunteers worked with the local community and businesses to raise two million pounds and St Wilfrid’s Place, which is located next door, opened in autumn 2017. The unit has 20 self-contained flats providing supporting living for vulnerable adults. Each resident receives tailored support to help them to become more independent, and to gain the necessary skills they will need to move on from the service. It's our 30th birthday in 2021 so we're currently working out what next big project we can embark on.