The arrival of European migrants into the Sheffield region recently has added a new dimension to the work at St Wilfrid’s Centre.
In the last year the centre has been able to help six Poles, two Romanians and one Latvian to return home. They had arrived expecting to find work but, after great difficulties, including homelessness, wanted to return to their countries.
Zdenek was one of these frightened people who had arrived in England from the Czech Republic having been tricked into paying money in return for the promise of a job in Sheffield. To make matters worse, he was mugged of all possessions and could not speak a word of English.
Zdenek arrived first at St Wilfrid’s unable to communicate his needs to them. This was obviously frustrating for him, to the point of being reduced to tears. He was given a meal and subsequently returned the following day.
An advice centre in another part of Sheffield had been trying to help him and St Wilfrid’s contacted it following the help of Maria, a volunteer who spoke Slovakian.
It turned out that Zdenek had been sleeping rough for weeks and all he really wanted to do was to return home.
The worker at the advice centre had taken him to the homeless section and various other statutory agencies but because of rules and regulations the centre was unable to help him. Workers at St Wilfrid’s did not have this problem and to them the answer was quite simple: to purchase a ticket to enable him to return home.
Zdenek was given new clothes and use of the shower facilities before he returned home.
St Wilfrid’s contacted National Travel and arranged for a coach direct from Sheffield to Victoria Station in London with a connection to Prague to allow him to get back the following day.
Kevin Bradley, the director of St Wilfrid’s, said: “To us the solution seemed very simple and to see the jubilation on his face when we were able to tell him that we had got him a ticket home was a sight to behold.
“A lot of time and effort had been expended on trying to help Zdenek. The wages that must have been paid to the various officials who were trying to sort out his case many times outweighs the amount that was actually required to give him what he needed.”