Posted Friday, 28 March 2008 at 14:11
I have just come back from visiting the Kings Arms project in Bedford. The project looks after the homeless and provides a depth of continued support over a number of years. It was one of the best run projects I have ever visited.
I will be spending further time with the project over the next few weeks, and will blog in more detail about the work they do, which includes sitting in the gutter in an attempt to persuade rough sleepers that they are worth a bed for the night.
According to a recent government, ‘rough sleepers’ count – Bedford has the highest number of rough sleepers outside of London. Really? More than Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds?
I am going to probe this one a bit deeper, but I am quite sure we will find government targets at the bottom of it somewhere.
Anyway, whilst having a cup of coffee with the amazing buzzing with energy Elle, the project director who is also daughter of the Bishop of Bedford, I asked who had started the project originally.
I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been when the answer came back, ‘this amazing woman Philippa Stroud who lived here about fifteen years ago.”
Philippa apparently had a real concern for people sleeping rough, and got it into her head that something more positive should be done; and against the odds, setting out on her own, she did it.
The project is now huge, and has helped many hundreds of people to battle alcoholism and drugs, and assisted them to make the transition from the street to community.
Philippa Stroud is the Conservative candidate for Sutton & Cheam, a truly amazing woman and will be a Conservative MP after the next general election. I can’t wait. She is also Director of the Centre for Social Justice.
Photo is of Elle and I, with wet bedraggled hair, in the night shelter kitchen, more on The Kings Arms project to follow.
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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