Minister pays visit to homeless shelter

DURING a visit to a homeless shelter, a Government minister spoke to The Comet about the necessity for housing in this area, how homelessness is being handled, and how to combat the recession. Iain Wright, MP for Hartlepool and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

DURING a visit to a homeless shelter, a Government minister spoke to The Comet about the necessity for housing in this area, how homelessness is being handled, and how to combat the recession.

Iain Wright, MP for Hartlepool and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, was welcomed by staff and residents at Stevenage Haven last Thursday.

During a tour of the building, Mr Wright spoke to residents who told him how staff at Stevenage Haven have proactively helped them acquire the skills needed to go out and get jobs.

One young man, who did not want to be named, told how he is now a qualified plumber and plasterer. Mr Wright said: "Not only do staff give people a place to stay, but they proactively help them to get jobs. These people are getting real skills to go out and get real work. This place gives people real hope."


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Mr Wright said the reason for his visit was to see what is on offer for people who are homeless in the area. He said it was great to see how proactive staff at Stevenage Haven are, saying: "If you are reactive all the time, how on earth can you get your life back on track and find stability?" He added: "What I also like is that Stevenage Borough Council employs a proactive strategy to tackling homelessness by finding the underlying causes and trying to mediate with families and provide skills. Stevenage Borough Council's working together with the voluntary sector and it's something Stevenage can be really proud of."

Talking about the recession, Mr Wright said: "It's tough out there but the fundamentals haven't changed. We still need skills in a wide range of areas, and skills and employment are absolutely key to getting out of this recession."

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When asked how Comet country's infrastructure will cope with the planned 3,600 homes west of Stevenage, and up to 7,000 east of Luton, Mr Wright said: "I recognise that people are concerned and I think we have to be sensible and ensure any development is well planned. The last thing I want to see is a development that doesn't think of the long term future, so that we will have to demolish it in 15 years time because it's not sustainable."

He added: "This is an extremely desirable place to live and affordability is a real issue in this area, so we do need more houses.

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