Iain Duncan Smith’s brilliant think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, has a program called the ‘Inner City Challenge’, enabling MPs – from across the political spectrum – to engage in poverty-fighting projects.
I jumped at the chance to spend three days volunteering at Anchor House, an award-winning charity that helps homeless people get back on their feet. Anchor House, led by Keith Fernett, has a unique ethos combining practical support and tough love, as its website explains further here.
My three days there threw up a range of insights about the plight of the homeless. I was de-briefed and interviewed by the staff there here.
If I took two things away from the experience, it was first that homelessness is invariably a symptom of a range of other problems – from debt and addiction to mental health issues and relationship breakdown. Second, hitting rock bottom can provide an opportunity for people to put their lives back together, as long as they get the right support and they are themselves committed to turning things around.
Inevitably, you hear some really sad stories in a homeless shelter. But, in reality, I found my stint there remarkably uplifting and inspiring, mainly because of the ‘can-do’ attitude and energy of both staff and residents.
This article first appeared on Dominic Raab’s website.