On Thursday, 1 February, Dr Alan Billings met with Project Manager Adie Flute from the Rucksack Project to hear how £600 grant funding has helped homeless people in Barnsley.

The Rucksack Project, Barnsley is a voluntary organisation helping homeless people by providing them with basic essentials such as sleeping bags.  The grant funding was awarded from the Barnsley Chronicle Stronger Together grant scheme, administered on behalf of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Adie Flute said: “Homelessness is a worrying and growing issue across the UK, with figures collected in demonstrating that the number of those affected has more than doubled in the last six years.  Barnsley has a particular issue with what is loosely referred to as hidden homeless, for example those who are sofa surfing at friends, but can find themselves out in the cold on any given night.

“The aim of the Rucksack Project is to try and make some small improvement to the lives of those who have found themselves in such a horrible situation.  We provide them with a few essential items, whilst also showing those who have been effected that they haven’t been forgotten. Every item that comes in gets handed back out, and every monetary donation that comes in gets directly used to help the cause”.

The £600 funded by the Barnsley Chronicle and the Commissioner purchased sleeping bags.  The Sleeping bags are key for those people who are either homeless or sofa surfing.  It is an item that can become worn out quickly, or stolen.  For those struggling to find the money to by food and clothes, purchasing a sleeping bag can be a real struggle.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Homelessness is a growing problem and not just for those we see outdoors on cold winter nights.  Many people are now left with circumstances stopping them from living with their families and staying in friend’s homes on sofas and in spare rooms.

“What some people take for granted, such as a warm bed on an evening is not so simple for others.  These sleeping bags are essential for those needing help to get some form of sleep on an evening.

“I understand that donations of food and clothing are always greatly received from the Rucksack Project, but sleeping bag donations are limited as they rarely become an item that people give away unless damaged.

“It was interesting hearing from Adie about the work he does and the significant impact he has on vulnerable people.

“I would like to thank Adie and the Barnsley Chronicle for ensuring the grant funding goes to the relevant people who need that little bit of extra help.

The Rucksack Project currently operates in Barnsley. If you would like to help the project then there is more information available on their Facebook page or if anyone would like some advice and support on coordinating a similar initiative in Doncaster, Rotherham or Sheffield, they can contact our office on 0114 296 4150.