This morning Mark visited The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields to learn about the work they do to help the homeless in the constituency.
Work with homeless people has been going on at St Martin-in-the-Fields since at least 1948, when the first formal organisation was set up by the Church. The Social Care Unit, based on the site, helped homeless people over the age of 26, by providing practical support, advice and daily activities.
In 1988, St Martin’s identified the old school building as being a suitable site for a new day centre for young people. The building was converted and three existing organisations merged to form the London Connection, which helped young people aged 16-25.
In 2003, the London Connection and the Social Care Unit merged to create The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields. It has been a big year for The Connection after the completion of extensive building work to create a centre with excellent facilities.
Mark was shown the renovated building by Colin Glover, the Connection’s Chief Executive, and was incredibly impressed by the work that is done not only to provide a safe haven for those on the streets but to get vulnerable people housed and back into work.
Colin explained the challenge of ensuring the Connection remains a solution to rather part of the problem of homelessness and described the fine line between providing good services and creating a culture of dependency. He is also anxious to ensure that the Connection continues to be an asset to the urban community.
Along with seeing the work done to rehabilitate homeless people, Mark also met the fundraising team who work tirelessly to ensure that the £5 million required each year to run the Connection is raised.
In this famous corner of London, Mark was delighted to find a modern, outward-looking service which builds on the traditions of St Martin’s and the wider church and continues to give a helping hand to those in need with practical, realistic solutions.