MP Ann Widdecombe was the guest of honour at a dinner held to mark the 21st anniversary of St Vincent's Furniture Store in Sheffield. The Bishop of Hallam (Rt Rev John Rawsthorne), the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Cllr Jane Bird, and the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, Meredydd Highes, also attended. The store, run by the St Vincent de Paul Society, helps over 1,200 families a year with furniture and goods. Ann entertained everyone with tales of her life as an author, MP and TV personality for an hour and answered questions from the floor. Afterwards she said: "Anybody who thinks that Christianity is irrelevant to today's society should try visiting the homes furnished by the St Vincent de Paul Society that would otherwise be bare." Last year over 200 agencies in the Sheffield area made referrals to the St Vincent's store and they were able to assist women fleeing domestic violence, people with learning disabilities, those coming out of prison and rehabilitation, refugees, asylum seekers, the homeless, young pregnant women and victims of fire, floods, vandalism and burglaries. As well as many other projects, the SVP run 16 furniture stores across England and Wales, providing free furniture to disadvantaged individuals and families. Last year over 15,000 collections and deliveries were made to 10,800 individuals and families who would otherwise have gone without. The St Vincent de Paul Society, started 175 years ago in Paris, now has over 10,000 members in England and Wales and reaches out to all irrespective of age, colour, creed, gender or ideology. For more information, contact their national office on 020 7407 4644 or visit www.svp.org.uk.
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