This is our blog about our trip to Castleton last Tuesday. We were to leave from Ben’s Centre at 2.00pm and before we set off the Centre was buzzing. The only way to describe it was there were 20 people in Bens, and it was like having 20 children on Christmas Eve who were VERY excited because Father Christmas was coming in the night! There were many times when Wendy and I looked at each other and thought ‘what had we done’!

2 o’clock arrived and we were able to take 12 clients with us to Castleton, so with 6 staff and volunteers we were quite a large group. The mini-bus was full! We had numerous comments that many clients could not remember when they last left Sheffield and also saw the countryside. The weather was perfect with clear blue skies although quite cold. Before we left we made sure all the clients were warmly dressed, as some had not come very adequately clothed.

Driving out to Castleton you felt the whole bus just relax and start to take in the scenery and enjoy the day. You forget how to enjoy yourself when your life is centred round getting your next drink!

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We were dropped off at the top of Winnat’s Pass and we began a slow decent back down into Castleton. The light was beautiful and snow was still on the top so it all added to our enjoyment. A group stopped and found some fossils and Paul, our volunteer, gave them some history to the place and how they were formed. Another group watched a Kestrel circling and looking for food. We had three cameras on the go so clients were taking many photographs, some of which you can see.castleton-trip-91208-084-blog

As it was getting dark we walked into the village and all the Christmas lights were on and looked very attractive. We walked round and looked at the shops and lights before returning to the mini-bus. We then drove back into Hathersage and went for our evening meal at the Pool Café. The clients had chosen their meal before we went and we were all very hungry after the walk and fresh air. We walked into the café and it looked so pretty with Christmas lights on and candles on the tables. The clients were quiet as they realized that this was for them. They are rarely in a situation where they are the guests and people are serving them. Everyone was eagerly looking to see what everyone had ordered. None were disappointed as the food came so quickly and was superb. castleton-trip-91208-125-blogAll the clients were so grateful, as were the staff, and everyone went up to the café owner afterwards and thanked him and his staff.

We then came back into Sheffield, nobody wanting it to end. The clients had enjoyed themselves and had behaved impeccably too. Any observer would never have realized that we were a Centre for Street Drinkers. Ben’s Centre is so grateful for the funding that enabled us to go as it will be in the memories of our dear clients for a long time and the staff. I will print some of the client’s comments on the blog for you all to read later. We can say it was a resounding success and we guess our next trip we will probably need a coach! The clients are already asking when and where it will be.