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, 30 July 2015


Shekinah mission first opened its doors in Bath Street Plymouth in 1992, the same year as I was first elected. In those days their focus was to care for local rough sleepers and to ensure they had basic shelter and food. In the 23 years since then this charity has grown in a dynamic way and deserves much praise for the work they do.

These days their emphasis is on helping people who have had a tough start in life to get going again. They specialise in equipping people who have hit rock bottom get into work and stay into work. They currently have a 75% success rate of training placing and sustaining people in work – am amazing record that knocks the spots of similar organisations. 

When this charity first started, on a wing and a prayer, it was an overtly Christian work. This is the case with most of our well-known charities like Oxfam or BarnardosNowadays, although many of their staff and their ethos are still shaped by that faith, it welcomes everyone and employs people of all faiths and none.

The important thing is that what it does works, and thousands of local people have benefitted from their support and compassion over two decades.   

When I visited it recently to receive an update I was impressed as always by the sheer dedication of the people working at Shekinah. In these times of austerity, direct support from government and local authorities has been reduced, so they are dependant now more than ever on support from the public to keep delivering their life changing services

Some people take the view that the hard-to-reach folks this charity helps have largely brought their difficult circumstances upon themselves and, of course, sometimes people make poor life choices. The harsh reality is however,as I have learned over many years, that a sizeable minority of our fellow citizens grow up in households of chaos in which they never have a chance to make the kind of sensible life choices that most of us have made. They never had a chance then, so they deserve a second chance now and Shekinah helps deliver this. In a robust and practical way. 
I believe that Shekinah deserves to be up there in local public esteem with St. Luke's and Dame Hannahs as charities worthy of respect and assistance. It is an astonishing Plymouth success story, does vital work and should be celebrated and supported.

posted by Gary @ 09:34