Soldier Craig’s helping hand to improve mental health of homeless

A FORMER soldier has launched a project to boost the mental health of homeless people and give them a good night’s sleep.

A FORMER soldier has launched a project to boost the mental health of homeless people  and give them a good night’s sleep.

Craig Taylor (pictured, right) is the man behind Sleep Tonight, a community interest company (CIC) which will work across the Dearne Valley.

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Craig (39), who works for Parkgate firm GNR Training, said he had been inspired to launch the project having worked with homeless people for several years.

He has set up drop-off points to collect bedding, warm clothes and other essentials to deliver to the homeless and raised a team of volunteers to deliver the items.

Craig said he would like to have a network of trained mental health professionals on hand to help those supported by the project.

Speaking of his previous work, Craig said: “I began going out onto the streets and giving them sleeping bags.

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“I went around Barnsley town centre and spoke to the homeless who were outside on the streets and found out who the guys were.

“I took them some warm clothes and took them some food.”

Craig said he wanted his organisation to do the same and to provide a first line of defence against homeless people suffering.

“We want to keep people warm and keep them alive through the year,” he said.

“There’s plenty of hostels and temporary accommodation but lots of people are saying its safer on the streets, so people are still technically homeless.”

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Craig said the aim was to have drop-in centres strategically located across the county with mental health practitioners on hand to help out those who were struggling mentally.

He said he had served in Her Majesty’s Submarine Service for just under ten years, including during the Iraq War, and because many of those on the streets were also ex-forces members, he understood how they might be struggling.

“Being a veteran myself, I understand the situation,” said Craig.

“The key thing is having the community working together to make it a much better world to live in.

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“A lot of hostels do things but we want to take it to the next level and have a trained professional to assess these people.

“Across the UK, as many as one in 80 people are homeless it’s almost at crisis levels.”

Craig said he had recruited a number of volunteers and was now in the process of applying for funding.

People can drop donations off at Craigs home at 120 Pontefract Road, Broomhill, Barnsley; at GNR Training, Action House, Coleman Street, Parkgate or The Grange Hair and Beauty, Station Street, Swinton.

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Sleep Tonight needs rucksacks, sleeping bags, camping mats, weatherproof coats, jumpers, joggers, waterproof trousers, hats, gloves, handwarmers and new underwear.

He said the organisation was currently working across the Dearne Valley in locations such as Wath, Swinton and Denaby, but he wanted to expand the service to Rotherham and eventually the whole of South Yorkshire.

Visit to find out more or to make a donation.