Councillor steps into the kitchen to help the homeless

A district councillor swapped the chamber for the kitchen to serve food to homeless people as part of a fact finding mission.

Cllr Melanie Baker, portfolio holder for planning and housing on Malvern Hills District Council, helped out at St Paul's Hostel in Worcester to learn more about the support provided to the county's homeless.

St Paul's was established almost 40 years ago. The 46 bed hostel provides a place to stay for those aged 16 and over, as well as regular meals and a range of support services dealing with issues including substance abuse and mental health.

People can approach the hostel directly as well as being referred through various organisations including Malvern Hills District Council. The hostel also has an outreach team which identifies and works with rough sleepers. Since July the hostel and outreach team have supported ten residents with a connection to the Malvern area.

As well as serving food to residents, Cllr Baker also spoke to them about their experiences and to the hostel's senior managers about the funding challenges facing them and the importance of a joined up approach to tackling homelessness.

Working with St Paul's is just one way Malvern Hills District Council supports the homeless or those at risk of homelessness. In the last five years the council, working with its partner Fortis Living, has helped prevent a total of 1,033 households from becoming homeless.

Cllr Baker said: "It was good to meet some of the residents, hear their views and learn a bit about their story and future ambitions.

"People help people and none of us should lose sight of the fact that we each have a part to play in supporting people in our communities, especially those who are most vulnerable."