This photograph was taken on Christmas morning. The only people in the city centre appeared to be people who had spent the night sleeping rough, the police and people heading to work at the HARC Christmas project (See below). There were no shoppers to read the sales signs and as if they haven’t had enough excess at Christmas time this pair of litter bins seem to be waiting for the sales to start…!
This winter there are dozens of people sleeping rough on the streets of Sheffield. Their Christmas isn’t one of excessive spending or time spent queuing for the sales. There is a housing crisis in Sheffield (and nationwide). In the week leading to and on Christmas day I documented some of the people sleeping rough. The images don’t make for comfortable viewing but perhaps our discomfort is something to connect us to the real suffering of people without a place to call home.
I have never before witnessed so many people sleeping rough in any city that I’ve lived in. It is shameful to think we have evolved into a society where in 2017 we have more people sleeping rough than ever before! The projections made by charities working with people who are homeless is that without a radical rethink about housing and support the numbers of people sleeping rough will continue to rise.
Taking photographs of people whose lives are so very difficult was not something I found easy to do. They were all taken over the course of one week including Christmas Morning. One of the things said to me while chatting to people who are sleeping rough is that they can feel like they are invisible. I hope my photographs help to make visible the lives of the many people struggling and sleeping in Sheffield city centre. If they can be part of a positive conversation about homelessness then I hope too we can ask questions our civic and social responsibilities and ask what has gone wrong. The problems are complex and there are no easy answers but individually we can all be part of change for the good of all.
The photographs of people who are sleeping rough in Sheffield can be seen HERE under the title ‘Countdown to Christmas’.
HOW TO DO MORE THAN THINK ABOUT DOING SOMETHING….
Below are details of Homeless and Rootless at Christmas. A local charity who for many years have done brilliant work at Christmas time and rely on the goodwill of volunteers. The project runs only over the Christmas period but also needs volunteers all year round to ensure the project is a success.
HARC and The Archer Project are just two of the many charities working to improve the lives of people who are homeless. If they don’t have a volunteering role that suits you then I’m sure they can help point you in the right direction.
DETAILS FOR HARC 2017
HOMELESS AND ROOTLESS AT CHRISTMAS (HARC) in Sheffield is a day shelter for people who are homeless or isolated at Christmas.
This year it is located at the Archer Project on Campo Lane S12EF. Provided free of charge are hot meals, drinks, company, entertainment and at certain times a dentist, hairdresser, chiropodist, medical services and a clothing store.
9:30 – 7pm – Sunday 24th December to Monday 1st January.
On 1st of January they are only open until 12:00 noon.
Visit the HARC website HERE where you can discover more about the project and also how to donate or get involved.