My name is Barrie, I came from a loving and devoted family in north Leeds. I grew up in modestly comfortable surroundings, not wealthy by any means but my parents made sure we were all clothed and fed well and also loved. My father a veteran of WW2 and a championship boxer in the army, he worked hard and long to provide for brother, sister and me. My mother who was from a Salvation Army background also worked hard to contribute to keeping a well looked after family. My brother and sister joined the army and air force respectively while I was very young so really wasn’t all that close to them and rarely saw them except on special occasions like birthdays and at Christmas.
So here I am at the age of 55 with all my family gone, my mother of a heart attack, my father and sister of cancer and my brother in a tragic road accident, all within 5 years of each other. I was going to a funeral just about every year to bury my family.
Up until about a month or so ago I was in a reasonably well-paid job, had a nice new modern privately rented flat, no worries about paying the bills, food etc, and felt quite secure and happy with life in general. Then through no fault of my own I lost my job to the recession and the present financial climate. Subsequently I started getting into trouble with my rent and, all the other associated outgoings, it ended up with me having to give up my flat as I could not find any alternative employment especially at my age. With being in a strange town and having no family and friends, I found myself In a situation that was completely alien to me and a position I would never have dreamed I would end up in, HOMELESS. I had exhausted all my efforts and money in looking for work up and down the country, willing to do anything to earn a wage so as to get a bedsit or just a roof over my head, I’d even walked most of the 60 odd miles back from Bridlington looking for seasonal work because I had no money for the fare back!
So I came back to my hometown of Leeds, tired and weary from walking over 40 miles through the night with feelings of despair and hopelessness, I’d really just had enough.
I have always known of St George's Crypt from being a young lad, I think my father told me about it at one time, and from what I could recall it was a place where all the "down and outs” went. Here I was, very down and also very out! How ironic really looking back to what my father had told me, so the thought of going to the Crypt was very daunting for me, and really to be honest quite frightening.
My mother god rest her soul, always told me to be strong in times of hopelessness, and I think I’ve always tried to adopt her advice, so I went to St George's Crypt and rang the bell.
I entered the very surprisingly modern interior of the reception where I was greeted very warmly by a very polite and courteous lady who, when I had explained my situation spoke to someone on my behalf, I was shown very politely into a side room by a most welcoming gentleman who listened to my despair and need for help. He was very attentive and then said to me, "we wont see you out on the street tonight Barrie and we will find you a place no matter what!"
How humbled and very wrong I was about my visions of the Crypt that had been bouncing around in my head, it was completely different from what I’d imagined it would be like. I have now been here a week. I have received three good meals a day, help and support when I’ve asked, and now hopefully they have helped me secure accommodation of my own to live in.
I can honestly say I have had nothing but politeness, kindness, help and support from all the staff I have had the good fortune to meet, even the receptionist made me feel welcome. It has without doubt, changed my whole outlook on life, how much we take for granted in normal circumstances, and how we should all value and treasure the simple things in life!
St George's Crypt, and all its staff, I feel deserve the highest accolade and praise for the untold and very challenging hard work they do in striving to help others at their own expense and more importantly in their own time.
I hope in some small way I will have the honour In being able to give something back In return for the help and encouragement to carry on in life,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the lovely staff at St George's In their endless and tireless devotion to helping people like myself and many, many others, GOD BLESS YOU ALL!