Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 16 October 2014


Some of the most effective organisations in our midst are the ones which have been around a long time but have managed to adapt themselves to the ever changing landscape. I had an example of that last Friday when I visited the work of the Salvation Army in Life House Devonport.

At this former hotel the Army provide accommodation and support to many people who are struggling to cope, either because of mental illness, addiction to drugs or alcohol or due to some kind or some unexpected life shock. It was very inspiring work. They have over 60 units of accommodation in which people stay on average for 6 months while they get themselves back on track. All kinds of support is available for them in the meantime, from the deeply practical to the spiritual. There is also a safe room where people they find sleeping rough on the streets can come and doss down for the night, at least not exposed to the elements.

On offer to residents and other service-users who drop in for the day are a range of real-world lessons, from cookery to managing finances. There is also a fully equipped carpentry workshop where people can learn new skills.

I met a gentleman there who had been enjoying a successful life and then, possibly as a result of a poor decision or two, the whole edifice crashed and burned and within a short space of time he found himself living rough on the streets with nothing. I have met people before with similar stories and it is very sobering to realise how fragile life can be for all of us. With expert and compassionate help, he is learning to put the pieces back together again.

The workers are highly professional and dedicated to their mission: to make life better for people. Some of the staff and volunteers have overcome their own challenges in earlier years and thus are well equipped to help those who are still going through the darkness.

I came away feeling both impressed and humbled by the visit. My hosts are making a very real difference to some of the most challenged people in our midst. As we approach Christmas we will probably see Salvation Army bands playing carols on various street corners. We can pop some money in the collection box confident that it is being put to good use. General William Booth must be purring in his grave.

posted by Gary @ 11:16