Ben’s Centre has grown out of a desire within the city for day provision for street drinkers and a commitment from a small group of street drinkers to address the issues they face. In the early 90’s a group of street drinkers started meeting regularly as a self-help group to provide mutual support to each other. With the support of a number of individuals they were able to persuade the city council to provide premises for them on Norfolk Row. This became, in 1992, the base for Hexagon, which provided day and counselling service to those in the city who had alcohol misuse problems including street drinkers.
In 1994 the Town Hall saw a new recruit when PC Ian Sherman (“Ben”) became the Town Hall bobby with responsibility for policing the Peace Gardens, which at the time, was a regular haunt of the city’s street drinkers. Recognising the futility of locking the street drinkers up on a regular basis, Ben’s approach was more tactful and Ben built a positive working relationship with the street drinkers.
Having worked with Hexagon and seeing the impact that the project closure had on the street drinkers and recognising their wider needs, Ben and colleagues looked at opening the premises that Hexagon had occupied on Norfolk Row as a project for the street drinkers. With the support of the city council and the TSB, support and donations from a range of organisations, and an army of volunteers, Ben’s Place was opened in early 1996 providing food, warmth and shelter to the city’s street drinkers during the day.
The street drinkers named the project ‘Ben’s Place’ which developed in to its official title of Ben’s Centre for Vulnerable People (Sheffield).
Ben’s Centre has had a challenging history trying to secure long term funding and accommodation for the project. Jumping forward somewhat, in 2005 we secured a three year grant from the Big Lottery (our first lottery grant), enabling the organisation to develop its services for street drinkers. This with funding from Henry Smith Charitable Trust, J. Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust, The Tudor Trust and a Revenue grant from Sheffield City Council has enabled a more settled period in our history over the last 3 years. However, grants are usually for a fixed term and quickly come to an end and so the battle to fund Ben’s continues.
Since May 2015 we have been located at 15 North Church Street, where we are able to continue the story.
What we're up to
What we're up to
That’s right folks Ben’s centre have been supporting the vulnerable adults in Sheffield for 21 years! We have a series of events and activities going on to mark the momentous occasion. First up we have designed and built an exhibit to be installed in Weston Park Museum and we would like you to see it!
The piece revolves around our work with the homeless and our partnerships with the many fine agencies in Sheffield. We will be opening the exhibit on 16th October at 2pm with the help of John Shuttleworth who is a patron of Ben’s Centre and has been chomping at the bit to cut the ribbon and see us through and into our 22nd year of service.
We hope you can attend the opening ceremony but if you cannot make it don’t worry, the exhibit will be there for plenty of time!
Unfortunately our work at Carbrook has come to an abrupt end as all the charities using the space have been given a months notice! Many of the partnerships we have been working on are still in place and we aim to keep them running, these include work with 'Telltrend' and 'Blend'. This minor disaster serves to remind us how difficult it is for charities in these difficuly times, we really do need all the help we can get! If there's anyone out there in Sheffield city centre with premises or even car parking space that we can make use of, please get in touch!
On a happier note, we have been successfully working with a local home Ed group recently. We have run a cookery class with the help of many fabulous individuals over the last few weeks. They learn and in return they have provided a meal for our clients each week, we're so pleased to have been working alongside these talented kids and adults!
Meet the trustees
Meet the trustees
‘Jamie Irving is a Lecturer in Criminology in the Department of Law and Criminology at Sheffield Hallam University. Jamie has authored a book chapter on the change mechanism that supports the recovery process, and is a co-author, in a recent publication which focuses on recovery amongst ex-service personnel. In addition, he has several papers in progress, including an analysis of common factors associated with recovery and desistance.
Jamie has worked on a number of research projects. Most recently the Life in Recovery Survey - the first in the UK to document psycho-social changes associated with recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.
‘Ben’ or Ian as his name is really, is the Ben behind Ben’s Centre. Ben worked as a police officer for a good number of years in the City Centre during which he supported a ‘self-help’ group which eventually came to be ‘Bens’ Centre’. Ben has worked tirelessly for our client group being an active member of our Management Committee for many years. We will be featuring the full story on our blog of how Ben’s started… that is when Mr Sherman writes it for us!! Ben’s vision and compassion was foundational in the Centre getting started. Ben is still working, not as a Police Officer anymore, but in the Voluntary Sector.
Alan joined the trustees in 2016. He is a retired marketing, PR and events manager. He spent 17 years promoting Sheffield, organising events, publicity and promotions in this country and overseas. He was part of the team that put the bid together for The World Student Games. He ended his career in the hospitality industry and latterly worked as an advisor on tourism and worked as a tour manager and guide. In his retirement he enjoys helping out at Bens, theatre, sport and the odd game of golf. He is also spending his kid’s inheritance by travelling. He is married to Gillian a retired teacher and has 2 sons.
Steve trained as an animateur in Liverpool, he went on to become a professional actor and toured internationally with various theatre productions for a number of years. He then worked in substance misuse counselling and worked for various charities setting up Sheffield District Advice Centre where he provided specialist advice and guidance for vulnerable people.
Steve is a director at Kadampa Meditation Centre Sheffield and has taught meditation and Buddhist psychology for almost 20 years. He has also facilitated many drama and mindfulness workshops in a variety of different settings; community centres, prisons, hostels, schools and universities.
He is the founder of Freeclarity, an organisation that collaborates with businesses, individuals, education providers and community groups to develop inventive solutions that challenge and change unhelpful learned behaviours and negative ways of thinking.
Sian has worked with vulnerable people in the fields; mental health, homelessness and substance misuse for the last 10 years, since leaving university. A big passion has been working with some of the most marginalised individuals, both learning from them and seeing them move forwards. She loves making things, partly due to an inability to sit still. Works to date… Books unpublished and unwritten.. you never know.
Jan is a qualified Accountant and has worked with local charities for 20 years. She has been employed as a Finance Director across Yorkshire and Derbyshire for many years and now has her own business working with several smaller companies on a part time basis. Jan has always had an interest in supporting local charities where financial knowledge is needed but often difficult to find. She is also a Trustee and the Treasurer for HARC Sheffield, where she volunteers alongside her husband in the kitchen whilst the project is open during Christmas break.
In her spare time Jan enjoys cooking, reading and entertaining. She often cooks batches of 100s of jars of chutney in the Autumn to supplement Christmas gifts to friends and family. She is married to Nigel who volunteers at Ben's, cooking the lunch time meal one day a week.
Ben’s Centre is overseen by a Voluntary Management Committee who are both Directors of the Company and Trustees of the Charity.
Although Management Committee members are voluntary, they do hold an important role in the functioning of the Centre. Currently the committee meets every eight weeks usually on a Wednesday from 4.30pm for about one and a half hours.
People interested in joining the committee are asked to complete an application form, then invited to chat informally to our Chair Person, Josephine Maltby and to attend a meeting. References and a standard CRB check will be sorted.
We are currently seeking new Trustees and would encourage people interested and supportive of the work of Ben’s Centre to consider finding out more. We are looking for people from a diverse background and you do not need to have experience of Homeless or the Voluntary Sector. Health and Safety, Personnel Skills, Legal or Financial are just a few of the areas of knowledge and experience we could use.
Please contact us if you wish to know more.
Meet the staff and volunteers
Meet the staff and volunteers
Sue is the Manager of our project, she brings a wealth of experience from 16 plus years in the drug and alcohol field. Since joining Ben's in 2011 the project has gone from strength to strength, bringing a creative and dynamic approach to running the project, Sue’s contribution to Ben's goes far beyond her job description.
Daryl started in February 2012, he spent the previous 3 years working at The Greens. With a very varied work history and skill set, he hopes to be starting some fresh, new and creative projects at Ben’s. A musician, writer and avid beard grower, Daryl also works as an outreach worker for Ben’s and can be found pounding the streets when not in the centre.
Our diligent book keeper. Lynne took the place of her son in our chaotic financial department! Unfazed by our ins and outs and our meagre budget, Lynne keeps the numbers flowing while other staff are on the front line.
Kelly is our most recently appointed Project Worker, she has a fantastic relationship with all our clients; she is approachable and always has time to spend with our guests.
Danny is an absolute work-horse and an another asset to Ben’s Centre, no job is too big and he always has the time and patience to spend with clients.
Vicky is a dab hand in the kitchen and also is rather handy with a pair of scissors! A qualified hairdresser with a heart of gold and a helpful attitude at all times.
Helen will do anything for anyone and we are all the better for her presence. She always has time to chat and will always make you feel better about things.
Our gentleman and scholar; Alan may be the most approachable man on earth, his tales can entertain and educate one and all and he is happy to share them. When Alan is not travelling the world he can be found every Friday at Ben’s.
Howard is our Monday morning man, getting Ben’s ready to face the week; he is a font of musical knowledge and is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
With years of experience in psychiatry, Mary is also a fantastic chef and her desserts are phenomenal!
A keen musician and student, Joe volunteers on Fridays in term time and is slowly becoming the man to beat at pool!
A fantastic chef who also lends his talents to the Sunday Centre, word of his legendary focaccia is quickly spreading across Sheffield!
Yes, THE Ben, as in Ben's Centre, has retired from his day job and has started helping us out on various days. It is such a pleasure to have him around.
Sophie joined us in early 2016, she brightens up the place on a Friday in term time.
The multi-talented Jane helps out on various days in the week and is a real treasure!
Alex is a fine Chef and has been helping us with some funding presentations; he is a keen outdoor person and often can be found slogging it out in his allotment.
To date our newest recruit; Anna is a student in Criminology and has fit instantly into our team, we really are blessed!