‘Being homeless could happen to anyone’

David Staley is walking from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington

David Staley is walking from Sheffield Cathedral to Bridlington

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A former homeless man will arrive in Bridlington at the weekend as he completes a 90-mile sponsored walk to help projects which got him back on his feet.

At his lowest point when he was on the streets earlier this year, David Staley begged police to lock him up.

Sheffield Wednesday fan David Staley

Sheffield Wednesday fan David Staley

The 30-year-old from Sheffield is now living a happy life in full-time employment working in a call centre.

But when David split up from his ex-partner in April, he found himself in an impossible position and slept rough for two weeks’ before he found help.

With no food, money or anyone he felt he could turn to, David hit rock bottom and police officers directed him to the Archer Project in Sheffield after he begged them to lock him up.

He will set off on foot from his home city tomorrow, heading to the Yorkshire Coast to raise money for the Archer Project and the Hinge Centre, which carries out similar work in Bridlington.

Eve Laird, manager of The Hinge, said: “We are thrilled David is helping fundraise for the Hinge Centre and his story raises awareness of how homelessness can easily happen to any of us.

“We are in awe of his chosen method of raising funds, walking such a distance is amazing but thankfully others can help in alternative ways.

“Donations can be made through our “make a donation” page and raffle tickets are for sale with some fantastic prizes on offer. This will all help boost the total raised for the Hinge Centre and every penny is used towards continuing the services provided for those who find themselves facing homelessness.”

David’s position now is a million miles from when he slept rough in a car park.

“I stopped in a car park near the Hallamshire Hospital, it was under construction at the time next to the student union.

“It’s horrible, it’s not nice at all and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. It’s cold, it’s wet and it’s incredible lonely. You’re left on your own with your own thoughts.

Sheffield Wednesday fan David recalled the turning point where police officers told him he could find help.

“I actually got that desperate one night I went to the police station on Snig Hill. I went to the officers and begged them to lock me up for the night.

“It was chucking it down with rain, it was freezing and all I had on was a pair of jeans, a jumper and that was it. I had no sleeping bag, I was desperate.

David said it’s easy to have stereotypes about homeless people and think many are like him who previously lived normal lives.

“It was a culture shock for me, you do have stereotypes it’s easy to have them but until you’re in a situation, because you never expect it to happen, then you understand,” he said.

“Being on the streets alone is one of the scariest things I have ever been through and without the help from the Archer Project I dread to think where I would be now.

“They gave me a hot meal, they washed my clothes and got me access to a phone and the internet to sort out any benefit claims and they point you in the right direction in terms of work. I had a mentor and they gave me support when I needed it the most.

The mammoth walk will see David set off on foot from Sheffield Cathedral where he’ll be joined by a friend during his Rotherham and Doncaster leg, and he has been promised an extra £100 if he walks over the Humber Bridge.

He will then continue towards Driffield where he will meet members of the Hinge, who will accompany him on the final 15 miles.

He has already passed the £500 mark on his fund-raising web page, which can be found at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/david-staley3