‘No-one chooses to be homeless’ - Charity aims to stop common misconceptions of rough sleepers

St Martins homeless charity volunteers Jason and Colin. Picture: St Martins

St Martins homeless charity volunteers Jason and Colin. Picture: St Martins - Credit: St Martins

A Norfolk homeless charity which has been hailed as a safety net is urging people to address misunderstandings around the complex issue.

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martins charity. Picture: St Martin's

Dr Jan Sheldon, chief executive of St Martins charity. Picture: St Martin's - Credit: Archant

St Martins, based on Bishopgate, Norwich, has launched its winter campaign to raise awareness of their work to support vulnerable people in the county.

It teamed up with students from University of East Anglia (UEA) and Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) who found out what people think they know about those experiencing homelessness.

The campaign also highlights the feelings of a person experiencing homelessness alongside common misconceptions.

Dr Jan Sheldon, St Martins chief executive, said: “The bottom line is that no-one chooses to be homeless. An event such as the loss of a job, illness or death of a family member can cause immense pressure that pushes a person into a position where they can no longer cope.

Former rough sleeper Karim who has been helped into accommodation thanks to St Martins charity. He i

Former rough sleeper Karim who has been helped into accommodation thanks to St Martins charity. He is pictured with his support worker Kim. Picture: St Martins - Credit: St Martins


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“We want everyone in Norfolk to know that we are here to support people experiencing homelessness to get back on their feet and back to living the lives they want to lead. This winter no-one should be sleeping on our streets.”

MORE: Almost £1m for Norfolk to keep roofs over heads of homeless peopleFormer rough sleeper Karim, who is moving into his own flat thanks to support from St Martins, said it was important to seek help from charitable organisations when in a difficult situation.

He said: “Taking that first step is a very difficult thing to do. It is very easy to get put off. St Martins is my safety net.”

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He has suffered with poor mental health since he was 18 and had found himself sleeping rough.

During that time he managed a team at a warehouse but was also battling a Class A drug addiction, which forced him to borrow money for heroin and eventually resign from his job.

In February this year he moved to the St Martins Magdalen Road project.

He praised the “time, effort and energy” his support worker invested in him and plans to become a mentor to help others like him adding: “I would like to give back.”

Thomas Driver, one of the NUA students involved in the campaign, said: “The experience of working with UEA and St Martins has been eye opening and inspiring.”

To donate to the charity visit www.stmartinshomeless.org

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