A recovering alcoholic is working to set up a lifeline for Huddersfield’s homeless and disadvantaged.
Linthwaite man Dave Kennedy, who battled addiction for 24 years, says because he has seen life at the sharp end he is well-placed to help others suffering from addiction and other problems.
The idea is to signpost anyone who needs help towards a better life. So far £265 has been pledged towards the £5,000 project.
On Christmas Eve he led a team of 15 volunteers out into Huddersfield town centre and handed out sleeping bags, clothing, food and other essentials.
The project was called Secret Smiles on the Streets and saw much-needed items handed out to homeless people who are currently battling freezing conditions on the streets.
Dave said: “It’s only been going for a week or so but I am quite pleased with the response. Because I have seen life from the sharp end I know a lot of the faces and people respect me because I have been there and know what it’s like to struggle like this.
“I don’t think you could have better experience than I have.
“And I’m very good at sitting down with people and listening to their problems. I’m a very serene and non-judgmental person.
“I just want to get it right and I’m grateful that a lot of people are offering to help.”
As well as delivering food and essential items directly to the people on the streets, the group are aiming to provide support and guidance for mental health issues, addiction concerns, housing and rehousing.
A clothing and essential items exchange centre, and central hub for the homeless and disadvantaged also form part of the ambitious plans.
Dave, who lives on benefits, added: “I spend a lot of time on this fledgling project. I get round the town centre two-to-three times a week and the number of people you meet who need helps is shocking.
“What was a dream for me is now becoming a reality and I will not give up until we are sat in our town centre premises with people coming to see us for a smile and some support.
“I have adopted the phrase, ‘We work for a cause, not applause’ as this project is absolutely about helping others, not about making ourselves look good, and if anyone gives the impression that they are working for us just to look good or to win some friends, they won’t be the people I want onboard.”
And as for working with the other care providers in the town centre he is anxious to reassure them that he “doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”