Report 14th February 2012

Harrogate Homeless Project

The speaker for Valentine’s Day was Mr. Brian Turner, a retired banker who has been Chairman of the Harrogate Homeless Project for three years.

In 1989 Rev. Gordon Lister became very concerned about the squatters on the Adelphi site on Cold Bath Road and raised £1500 from his congregation at Wesley Chapel to relieve the situation.  Churches Together later took over the work and eventually in March 1991 the Harrogate Homeless Project was registered as a charity supported by workers of all religions and non.

Harrogate people then as today were shocked to realise that homelessness can be a problem even in our more affluent towns.  Nos. 7 and 8 Bower Street were established as a base for clients, not all of whom are or were drop-outs, men of the road or drug addicts.

Brian became Chairman three years ago during a period of change.  Bower Street has been modernised at the cost of £ half million and single bedrooms have been introduced at the behest of government. No alcohol or drugs are allowed on the premises but the guidelines have been slightly relaxed.  A person would not now be denied access merely because of alcohol on the breath.  The renovated premises were opened by Andrew Jones MP in October 2010. The charity also has a day centre at Wesley Chapel House and has received a special grant during the worst winter weather for the STARS project (Shelter to Assist Rough Sleepers). 

Mr.Turner’s talk provoked a dozen questions from the members who had all enjoyed a sober, clear outline of the charities work from its Chairman, who confessed to several sleepless nights himself before the projects were completed.

Ken Selkirk, a stalwart of Wesley Chapel where it all started, gave an informed and appreciative vote of thanks.

John Taylor      

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