Lottery cash to help former homeless man set up project to help create better life for others

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Gary Staniforth Gary Staniforth

A man whose life plummeted to rock bottom when he was living on the streets of Bradford has now received £220,000 of Lottery cash to help the city’s vulnerable and homeless also turn their lives around.

Thanks to the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities fund, dad-of-three Gary Staniforth, 46, hopes his story will help others find ways of moving forward and paving out new and better lives for themselves.

The money will see him run a series of lifecoaching sessions in the New Year at the Foundation Building, Leeds Road. He will also be putting on sessions for clients at Bradford's Together Women Project.

The one-to-one sessions will involve sharing personal stories and some of those experiences will be turned into written words and appear in editions of street-life magazine Hidden Voices, started by Mr Staniforth about three years ago to reveal the raw life of rough sleepers and addicts in Bradford.

His new mentoring initiative is being called the Hidden Homeless Positive Change Project and will see people being referred to it for help from outside agencies.

It took six months to work on a successful Lottery bid and he hopes the project will grow to see more life mentors being recruited and be sent out across the region to inspire people in need.

After splitting up with a long-term partner in 2008, Mr Staniforth had spent time sleeping the streets before moving into a Salvation Army hostel.

He went on to mount a protest on the City Hall steps, calling for support for what he called the ‘Hidden Homeless’ after finding it difficult to access help with housing as a single man.

The former salesman, who now has his own flat in Windhill and a new partner, went on to set up the Hidden Homeless Foundation running it as a social enterprise and he also got an NVQ Level 3 qualification making him qualified to give housing support to others.

Mr Staniforth said: “I was someone who had hit rock-bottom and now I’m a chief executive officer.

“I want to be able to inspire others and show them there is a way back.

“You are disenfranchised when you are homeless, but it’s important to be able to focus on small goals and achieve them so you can start to see there really can be light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

“I’ve been sat in the streets with nothing to my name except a bin liner and now here I am – running a successful business and back from the depths of despair.

“With help and support I’ve changed my life completely – now by giving others help and support I’m hoping to change other lives too.”

To read more about the Hidden Homeless scheme, visit www.hiddenhomeless.co.uk

Comments (3)

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7:26am Thu 2 Jan 14

Albion. says...

Well done to him, he's got himself back on his feet and will hopefully encourage others to do the same.
Well done to him, he's got himself back on his feet and will hopefully encourage others to do the same. Albion.

7:39pm Thu 2 Jan 14

puddin says...

hope he employs people who have been in a similar situation as him
hope he employs people who have been in a similar situation as him puddin

5:41pm Fri 3 Jan 14

yorky4terrier says...

I knew him whilst he was homeless and assisted him with his housing as part of my job, prior to my retirement. He is an inspiration to others and was a pleasure to work with. We had many discussions regarding the homeless. I wish him every success.
I knew him whilst he was homeless and assisted him with his housing as part of my job, prior to my retirement. He is an inspiration to others and was a pleasure to work with. We had many discussions regarding the homeless. I wish him every success. yorky4terrier

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