Catholic charity transforms despair into hope on World Homeless Day

Stephen Timms

Stephen Timms

The former Shadow Minister of State for Employment, Stephen Timms MP, has praised a Catholic charity's work to provide a sustainable path out of homelessness and "their capacity to transform despair into hope". The comment was made at a reception to mark World Homeless Day at the House of Lords, organised by homeless charity Caritas Anchor House and sponsored by The Global Noticeboard. Timms congratulated the charity for raising the aspirations of people that have faced complexities "that many of us can only imagine".

"What's fantastic about Caritas Anchor House is that it gives people the prospect of a decent future, people that thought they would never have one, and support them into employment," he said.

Every year, Caritas Anchor House provides accommodation and support to single homeless people, giving them so much more than just a roof over their heads. They work with vulnerable groups, including those experiencing substance misuse, domestic abuse, mental health problems and offending. Last year they provided a home for 231 people, helping 71 into independent living and supporting 63 into employment.

The charity is based in the London Borough of Newham, and was commended by event host Field Marshal Lord Guthrie on their life-changing work, while operating in the second most deprived borough in the country.

Dr Muhammad Bari, a Patron of the charity, said: "Caritas Anchor House has a truly unique model that focuses not only on helping homeless people to gain employment and move on to independent living, but that creates active citizens within the community."

Monsignor John Armitage, Chair of Trustees at Caritas Anchor House, said that the charity now needs help to ensure that every person who walks through their doors has access to the best care and support possible, making the hope of independent life a reality.

"A strong community is one where we come together to support each other to make a positive difference. We need an all-out assault on poverty, and that can only be achieved by working together in partnership."

Caritas Anchor House has embarked on a vital development to improve and expand their services, including 25 'move-on' flats, to support homeless people into independent living. However, they have recently been told by HM Revenue and Customs that they now face an additional VAT bill of £1 million for this development.

Speaker Lord Gus O'Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary, expressed concern about the impact of the decision from HMRC. He said: "I hope that the disputes with HMRC will be resolved in a successful way. It is a real shame it is standing in the way of what could be really important and an enhancement to what's going on.

"Caritas Anchor House supports people to build skills, get education and jobs, contribute to society and pay taxes rather than receive benefits. It's a win all round and they are doing work that is very difficult and yet still making a real difference."

See also: ICN 9 October 2015 VAT threat to east London homeless charity www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=28516

For more information or to make a contribution to turn a life around please visit: www.caritasanchorhouse.org.uk or call 0207 476 6062.