Ed Vaizey has been in the first tranche of MPs undertaking the Inner City Challenge, and writing a diary of his experience for ConservativeHome.
I’ve finished my placement at the King’s Arms Project, and I’m taking the opportunity of my final post to put down some reflections on my week.
It was absolutely worth doing, that is for sure. I take the point that the whole exercise can appear patronising. For a relatively affluent MP to spend a week with the homeless – and to write about it at the same time - has more than a touch of the “polly toynbees” about it. But having done it, there is simply no better way to gain a better understanding of the problems facing the homeless, and those who seek to help them.
In fact, the first lesson is to stop talking about the “homeless”, and instead talk about Pete, Paul, Courtney, Dan, Michael, Alan, Phil, Elizabeth, Jon and the many others I met and chatted to during the week. As I think I said in an earlier blog, my prejudices were challenged from the start. I went to look at a social phenomenon and met real people instead. I had expected a hostile reception, with a lot of mistrust. Instead, I found all the residents open, honest and engaging.