Top Labour MP’s visited Catching Lives in Canterbury today, to campaign on housing and homelessness.
Canterbury’s Labour MP, Rosie Duffiled and Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey, visited Catching Lives to speak about the issue of the number of rough sleepers within the area.
Catching Lives is an independent charity aimed at supporting homeless people and the vulnerably housed in Canterbury and East Kent.
The number of rough sleepers has almost doubled since 2010, when the Conservative Party were elected into power.
When asked what they were doing at the charity, Rosie said: ’I’m showing John Healey, our shadow housing minister around catching lives, which is a charity that looks after people on the streets and tries to give them a start in life, or a helping hand, not just with housing, but it tries to set them on a path to improving their lives if they can possibly get that help.’
When asked for his opinions on the campaign, John said: ’it is a first rate service to everyone and turns no one away. It depends very much on the good will, not just funds, but actually volunteers time from people in Canterbury. And just provides a service and support that is second to none.’
The Labour Party want to tackle the issue of homelessness and build homes affordable for residents.
When asked what the plans were to decrease the number of rough sleepers, John Said: ’first of all, there just aren’t the low cost affordable homes for people to move into when they are ready to get their lives back together, with help from this project, so that’s the number one priority.’
Rosie Duffield expressed her views on the ways in which the number of rough sleepers could be improved, she said ’Well its simple, James who runs this charity said to me during the election campaign we need two things, we need better mental health provision, to get people out of the ruts that they’ve got into and we need council houses built.’
She continued, ‘I mean we’ve got lots of developments happening in Canterbury but they are not remotely affordable to most people, prices at £300,000+ for a family home and flats at sort of two hundred-odd thousand, these guys haven’t got a hope in hell.’
Rosie stated that we need to be doing more to help the homeless, she said: ‘’I’ve met people in doorways who have said that they come to Canterbury because they imagine that its got lots of shelters, lots of money, that there are jobs everywhere, wealthy tourists that can give them a bit of help, but actually they are disappointed when they get here because its just the same as other places and they end up sleeping in shop doorways and its shocking.’’
She continued: ‘And this is a place full of tourists and we pride ourselves on our lovely historic town, its not good enough and we should be doing more to help.’
John Healey also thinks that there needs to be easier access to health services, he said: ‘There are great support workers here, but often the access to mental health services, or to drug and alcohol treatment, or some of the other specialist help that needs to be available is sometimes too slow and too difficult to get a hold of.’