A Bridlington man who has spent almost a decade sleeping rough on the streets and has overcome poverty and homelessness himself, will be flying thousands of miles to help impoverished people in Africa this coming June.

Kev Oldfield, 60 is a member of the Emmanuel Church in Bridlington and set up a GoFundMe page in August last year to help to cover the costs for his airfare and travel to Kenya where he and a group of UK based church members will be helping to build a primary school.

“My passport arrived recently, and I was overwhelmed that I was being given the opportunity to travel. It means so much that I can get on an aeroplane and fly a few thousand miles and help those that are desperately in need.

Hard times

But life hasn’t always been so easy for Kevin, as he has spent years sleeping rough on seafront benches, in woods and on the streets of Bridlington and other areas around the country. “I did have some issues and these were amplified by the early death of my daughter – who was only 28 when she passed away. This culminated in me starting to drink heavily. “Eventually, the drinking became so heavy that my body was telling me it was no good. I was meeting up with all the street drinkers and addicts and my life started to spiral out of control.” Kev spent some of his early years being brought up in children’s homes and didn’t really accept authority and started to get in trouble with the police several times.

Emmanuel Church

Fortunately, Kev started to realise he had to give himself and others more self-respect rather than spiral into a life of petty crime. Kev called in at Emmanuel Church in 2016, which was offering help for the homeless as part of a volunteer-led programme that helps local homeless people. He was welcomed with open arms and was able to start to adjust to a non- judgement environment where he could come and go as he needed. Another of Kev’s skills is being a trained cook. He offered to help make meals, snacks and cakes and soon became a permanent fixture in the kitchen of the Emmanuel church café.

“I really enjoyed helping other people and soon I was able to get a permanent flat through the church and started living a proper life. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has been with me on my journey – not just with the fundraising, but having a belief in me and enabling me to get my life back on track.” added Kevin. “If I can do it, anyone else can – they just have to realise there is help out there and light at the end of every tunnel. No matter how bleak the situation.”

Reverend Richard Hare, who is the vicar at Emmanuel Church, which is based on Cardigan Road, in Bridlington, said: “I am delighted that Kev is able to come on the trip with us. “Having experienced poverty and homelessness himself, his life has turned around since visiting the church where he gives up hours of his time, cooking and baking for all the people that visit.”