Sheffield Chamber of Commerce President, Alexis Krachai, is championing cross-sector collaboration following a visit to a women’s hostel run by YWCA Yorkshire.

Alexis was invited to visit Peile House, in Burngreave, as part of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s work with Sheffield Business Together (SBT) a partnership between Sheffield Chamber and Business in the Community.

Peile House offers safe accommodation and trauma-informed support to 16-to-25-year-old women and their babies.

Operating as a homeless hostel for young women in North Sheffield since 1993, Peile House’s accommodation is funded by Sheffield City Council and managed by YWCA Yorkshire.

It is one of three housing projects run by YWCA Yorkshire, supporting more than 250 women, children and families, annually, to create better futures in Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield.

During the visit, Alexis heard about the extreme hardship, trauma and abuse young homeless women experience before they arrive at the hostel and was moved by the lived experiences of the residents and staff.

He asked the charity how he could provide support and the answer he got was they needed air fryers. Alexis then donated 20 air fryers to the project to help the women prepare and cook healthy, affordable meals.

Alexis said: “I’m in awe of the work the Peile House team do. As a citizen in this city, a dad of a daughter and a businessman, I was moved by the work YWCA Yorkshire does.

“Our city suffers from huge inequality. It takes long-term systemic change, connecting government bodies and charities to find solutions to problems, but through ambitious collaboration, like that which SBT facilitates, we can create long-term, positive, change for our communities.

“But we shouldn’t forget that every gesture, every offer of support, every donation is a chip in the wall of that wider inequality.

“As President of the Chamber I want to create the condition for others, individuals and businesses alike, to think about what they can do to support the charities they visit.”

Sheffield has a proud history of philanthropy and collaboration for good between the private, public and voluntary sectors. SBT aims to increase employer engagement in a co-ordinated way, brokering relationships and increasing the impact.

The relationship between the Chamber and YWCA Yorkshire is one part of this.

Alexis was told that access to air-fryers for the 14 residents living in self-contained bedsits would improve access to fresher, healthier, lower-cost meals, reducing the need for freezer space and high energy cooking methods.

Space within the homeless shelter is at a premium, and the expense of storing and cooking food for individuals is exasperated by the cost-of-living crisis.

Alexis added: “Our city looks out for people. We look out for each other. When someone asks for help – or needs twenty air fryers – I hope others might be suitably inspired to respond and have the backs of the organisations, or people, in need.”

Claire Harding, YWCA Yorkshire's Peile House project manager, said: “We house and support homeless young women and following their stay with us at Peile House, we help them move into their own tenancies, creating a better future for themselves here in Sheffield.

“We were bowled over by this generous donation, which is going to be transformational for our young women who are building skills in cooking, parenting, self-care and budgeting.”

If you’re a business or individual that wants to provide their support to chip away the wall of that inequality, get in touch with SBT and start thinking strategically about how the business community and the charitable sector can work together.