Bishop lends a helping hand to homeless shelter

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THE BISHOP of Sherwood dropped in for a visit at Worksop’s HOPE for Homeless to lend his support over proposed cuts to the service.

Bishop Tony Porter visited the Queens Street premises to talk to service users about their hopes and fears for the future.

They told him how they had gone on to education, been helped with furniture, food and toiletries and been provided with accomodation when they had nowhere to go.

The homeless shelter is facing having its annual £144,000 Supporting Peopel budget cut in July this year.

The Bishop said he is full of admiration for the service HOPE runs, working with people with drug and alcohol problems.

“I have a Christian responsibility to support marginalised people in society,” he said.

“They are all made in the image of God and so they are all very special.”

Service users said they welcomed the Bishop’s visit to highlight the issues HOPE faced over Supporting People funding cuts.

Darren Shackleton, 37, said he has been using HOPE since it first opened and said the service must stay.

“Since the Conservatives have got back into power everything has gone wrong,” he said.

“HOPE really helps people to make progress and get back on their feet but they are just cutting it at the knees.”

Fellow user Chris Cattlin, 24, added: “I have been homeless for six months now and we need this service because there is nowhere else to go. HOPE needs as much help as it can get.”

HOPE chief executive Sandy Smith said the Bishop showed clear understanding of the implications of the direct access unit closing.

“The irony of the Bishop’s visit is that the whole project started as a result of the winter shelter we operated from the Priory Gatehouse in 2003 and 2004, which led to the opening of No.13,” she said.

“We are still under threat. The consultation finished on 28th March and the fnial consultation feedback is now being considered and will inform a report of recommendations that will go to the full council meeting on 19th May for approval.”

“We are still hoping that common sense will prevail. We intend writing to all county councillors to outline the contradictions of accepting the proposals in their current form.”