Homelessness South Yorkshire Oct 2015

It’s a Happy Dog’s Life at Sheffield’s Bens Centre

CRASH is currently supporting Ben’s Centre, a drop in centre and outreach service which supports some of the most vulnerable people within Sheffield’s homeless community.

The need

Established 20 years ago by PC Ian (Ben) Sherman, who is still a Trustee, Ben’s Centre relocated its services to a new (listed) building at the end of 2014.

Whilst the ground and first floor of the property is spacious and will adequately provide office/treatment and breakout space, there are currently no suitable facilities to serve meals and provide washing facilities, therefore they cannot currently operate the drop in facility.

Ben’s Centre approached CRASH for help to modify the basement of the new building to provide new shower and toilet facilities and refurbish the stairs to provide safe and user friendly access for staff and clients.

The solution

To date, CRASH has given Ben’s Centre a development grant of £5,000 to help them get their plans off the ground.

How patrons helped

CRASH Patron AECOM carried out a drainage survey and Imtech are helping design and specify the extraction required for a new kitchen facility.  CRASH supporter Lucion Environmental Ltd has carried out an asbestos survey at a greatly reduced rate which will further enable the detailed planning and execution of the refurbishment works.

The social impact

Whilst the work is progressing, Ben’s Centre has teamed up with the Dogs Trust’s Hope Project which offers support to dogs’ owners who are homeless or in housing crisis.

When the Dogs Trust’s launched their project in 1995 there was not a single dog friendly hostel in the UK and just one solitary veterinary clinic to support dogs and their owners. Today an invaluable service in 107 towns and cities across the UK, working with local vets is offered to homelessness organisations including Ben’s Centre.

A survey commissioned by Dogs Trust reveals that 80% of those surveyed in the UK recognised that homeless people keep their dogs primarily for companionship. A group of homeless dog owners were also questioned to a get an understanding of the world they face:

  • 67% of rough sleepers said they were still living on the streets because they couldn’t find accommodation with their dog.
  • Almost two thirds of people have been asked to give up their dog in order to get into accommodation.
  • The biggest challenges of owning a dog were a tie between cost of vet treatment and finding somewhere to live (62%)

For many homeless people dogs are a great source of companionship and can really help to motivate them to turn their lives around. However, dog ownership does create certain hurdles in receiving support; this is why we are so grateful to be working alongside the Dog’s trusts Hope Project to try to address this barrier and bridge the gap for our clients.

Daryl Bishop

Chief Executive Ben’s Centre

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