“People should look at the person, not the past:” Leeds man who struggled with homelessness now supports others in a new charitable role Yorkshire News

Leah Charlson, Liz Knight and Scotty Bell, who have been recruited for Simon On The Streets Photo: Sam Toolsie

Scotty Bell is the new co-production lead for Simon On The Streets, a Leeds-based charity working to improve conditions for the homeless across the city.

In Bell’s new role, she will work directly with the homeless to understand their needs and ensure they are represented in the way decisions are made at the charity.

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It’s something he has experience of, having lived on the streets on and off from the 1990s to 2010.

Bell left the family home at age 15 and fell into a lifestyle of misdemeanor and addiction that led to him serving a prison sentence.

He said, “What 15-year-old boy has life skills? The few I had got me in trouble and I relied on them to survive. Drugs were introduced. I lived temporarily, I stayed with friends or, if not, I was in jail. “

He found himself on a cycle in which he was released from prison but could not find work.

“Trapped is the best word. Support was non-existent. Who wants to hire a former prisoner? He said: “I find that a lot of people don’t believe in rehab. They are cynical for seeing so many failures and so few victories. “

But Mr. Bell, 45, is a passionate believer that rehab can change lives. He first found work with the probation service and has since moved on to his new position. He said: “My lived experience gives me that little bit of understanding. I understand what it is like to have to find a place to stay every night.

“Someone without that experience has to dig a little deeper.

“People should look at the person, not at the past. I understand why people don’t recruit people with crimes on their record, but a person who is homeless or out of jail still has a wide range of qualities, skills, and assets. They are not just a label.

“I am an example of someone who might not get a job.”

Bell believes the time has come for local authorities and the government to build on the work they did to protect the homeless during the shutdown.

He said: “The services that were established came together in the pandemic. They did things wrong, as is the way, but it showed that in the midst of all this competition for money and contracts, services can work together and that is when it affects people in a positive way.

The charity also recruited Leah Charlson as the fundraising manager and Liz Knight as the outreach team leader.

Simon on the Streets Executive Director Natalie Moran said: “We are delighted to welcome Scotty, Leah and Liz at a critical time for Simon on the Streets. They all bring a wealth of experience that will help us connect more with the users of our services and support our clients in Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees. “

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This notice was published: 2021-06-28 10:50:13

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