The leader of the Liberal Democrats has described local homelessness charity Emmaus Hertfordshire as inspiring following a visit to the charity’s site in St Albans.
Sir Vince Cable was at Emmaus Hertfordshire on Tuesday 16 April learning more about the enterprising work the charity does helping people to rebuild their lives following homelessness and social exclusion.
Joining Sir Vince was prospective parliamentary candidate for St Albans, Daisy Cooper, Welwyn Hatfield’s Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Barbara Gibson, and Chris White, Councillor for St Albans Central and Clarence Ward.
For people who were homeless, Emmaus Hertfordshire offers a supportive environment for as long as they need it and the opportunity to gain new skills in its six second-hand shops, helping them to rebuild their confidence, self-worth, and dignity before eventually living independently.
Following a tour of the Emmaus Hertfordshire community, which is home for up to 39 people who have been homeless, Mr Cable met with residents to learn about their work in the charity’s upholstery workshop, where they upcycle donated items to be sold in the charity’s shops.
As part of Emmaus Hertfordshire’s social enterprise, residents upcycle and re-use donated items in the charity’s wood and upholstery workshops to help save items from landfill, raise funds for the charity, and learn new skills for the future.
Speaking of his visit, Mr Cable, said: “The inspiring homelessness charity Emmaus Hertfordshire provides people with new skills and supports them in creating new lives. The St Albans Liberal Democrats support providing those who have experienced homelessness with the skills to move on, but finding affordable housing is hard and that is why it is a priority for Lib Dems.”
In a recent article for Politics Home, Mr Cable stated that housing should be a priority in May’s local elections. He pointed to the contribution that the depletion of council housing through ‘right to buy’ and the lack of social housing because of central government restrictions has had on extreme problems such as homelessness and those at the bottom of the housing ladder.
Emmaus Hertfordshire is keen to discuss the issue of rising homelessness with its local constituency and welcomed Sir Vince’s visit and interest to learn more about their work.
John Chesters, Chief Executive at Emmaus Hertfordshire, said: “Having Sir Vince here and listening first-hand to the people we support explain the impact of benefit changes, hidden-homelessness, the significant issues faced on release from prison and so much more provided us with an invaluable opportunity.
“The desperate need to face the crisis of providing social housing and truly affordable rented accommodation was very clearly a priority for Sir Vince and his colleagues, particularly in the local St Albans area. This is a major challenge for our residents who are ready to move on from the community.
“We are already incredibly grateful to the local authority and an increasing number of employers who work with us around Hertfordshire. Our discussions with Sir Vince, Daisy, Barbara and Chris showed they are keen to help us do even more and we look forward to following up on this with them all. So many ideas and a genuine buzz of positivity.”
To find out more about the work of Emmaus Hertfordshire, please visit: www.emmaus.org.uk/hertfordshire.