Ed Vaizey MP: Inner City Challenge diary
Ed Vaizey is in the first tranche of MPs undertaking the Inner City Challenge, he is writing a diary of his experience for ConservativeHome.
"I'm spending this week at the Kings Arms. But before people say "Ah ha, typical, so this is what MPs do on their holidays", I should explain that the Kings Arms Project, to give it its full title, is a nightshelter, hostel and onward support scheme run by a local church. I'm here at the suggestion of the Centre for Social Justice, to spend a week working, to try and gain a better understanding of the problems faced by the homeless, and by a charity working in this sector.
Blogging from a BlackBerry isn't easy, so I'll keep my missives mercifully short, and write a longer blog at the end of the week. Let me just set the scene. The nightshelter caters for 18 residents a night, most of whom have had or have drug and alcohol problems. It's open from 7pm and residents must be out by 9am the next day. Residents sleep 4 to a room and each room is euphemistically named after a hotel - naturally the Ritz is my favourite.
The hostel has room for 14. Residents share a room with one other and stay for an average of 4 months. Some go back to the street, others go on to proper accommodation and a job. It takes three or four stays usually to make progress.
So far everything I have seen is amazing and impressive. I'm really enjoying it, I'd that's the right word. I hope they are enjoying having me. Tomorrow, I'll blog from the nightshelter to give you my impressions."