A WOMAN has been charged with arson after a fire at Sheffield Cathedral which caused serious damage to a project helping the homeless.
The alleged attack targeted the building’s multi-purpose Domino Hall, where the charity, the Archer Project, stores food and clothing, and prepares meals for homeless people now in temporary accommodation because of the coronavirus. The Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, said: “It really feels like an attack on some of the poorest people in our community.”
The cathedral has received “tens of thousands” of messages of support after the incident on Thursday of last week.
The Dean said: “I find the goodwill and messages of support very moving, and such a sign of some of the values we have in the city to support each other. If that’s how we are, then we are going to get through coronavirus as well.”
The Archer Project was launched almost 30 years ago to provide food, showers, and clothing for homeless people, and to find them jobs and housing. The charity’s chief executive, Tim Renshaw, said that the damage was a “body blow” that had left about 25 homeless people in need of support with nowhere to go, but he hoped that 14 staff and 50 volunteers could resume work by the end of this week. “Covid and arson together: that’s the biggest challenge we have faced,” he said.
More than £22,000 was donated within 24 hours of the fire.
Water used by fire crews, and smoke, affected other rooms and the cathedral nave. There are fears that the 18th-century regimental standards in the nave have been smoke damaged.
South Yorkshire Police said that a 40-year-old woman had been charged with arson with recklessness endangerment, and burglary. She is also accused of assaulting an emergency worker and spitting at two police officers.