Ben’s Centre for Vulnerable People

Founded in 1999 by a local police officer, the centre provides a place of sanctuary and stability for vulnerable and excluded street drinkers and drug users in Sheffield.

In August 2017, Ben’s Centre received a grant of £4,498 to extend their outreach hours each week. £750 from the Hugh & Ruby Sykes Distribution Fund contributed to the grant award. The extended hours of the outreach service has meant that Danny, who specialises in outreach support is able to go out and help those on the street in Sheffield city centre for four days a week. Outreach is in the mornings and evenings and typically staff see 15—20 people each day.

This outreach service has enabled the Centre to reach more new clients and spread awareness of the services available to homeless people, drinkers and drug users on the street. They give out food, clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags and rain coats. Just as importantly, Danny is able to spend time chatting and building up relationships so he can help and encourage them to find the support they need.

Senior Support Workers, Daryl Bishop said:
“We’re constantly adapting and evolving as an organisation. We’ve seen big changes in recent years in our client group and their needs. Six years ago our client’s had an average age of 50 and were predominately suffering from alcohol dependency. This average is now 30 and we’ve experienced a huge rise in drug addictions. Particularly in legal highs, which is most common amongst our youngest clients.”

Their extended outreach programme has been developed to reach this growing client group of young people with drug addiction issues. Since the funding was awarded, it has enabled 140 young people under the age of 25 to be supported and this number continues to grow.

Ben’s Centre for Vulnerable People understands how challenging the first step towards sobriety is and as such, it is the only support centre for people with addictions in the region that allows people to attend even when they are under the influence.

Looking to the future, Ben’s Centre would like to see their model rolled out across the UK. They are also working towards opening for an additional day a week and to expand the services they provide their clients.