We wouldn’t normally use our Christmas card for anything other than a rather good image and thought-provoking message, but as so many have shown support and asked about progress, we thought again.
We were hoping to show an image of our new Pavilion, complete with everything we need to feed Bradford’s homeless. Sadly, you’ll just have to use your imagination. Here’s why:
When you’ve seen someone drinking soup outside, and losing the battle to drain the cup before the rain fills it again, you can see how important we think it is that people can sit at tables in the warmth and be served a nourishing meal – without worrying about the rain, snow and cold wind. Pretty much how we would expect to eat a meal.
Unfortunately, not everyone at Bradford Council feels the same…
For over a year we’ve had meetings with middle management at the council. We’ve kept them fully appraised of meetings with suppliers, informed them at every stage of the progress made to date, listened to their opinions and been open and compliant with their requests for information over costing etc. We’ve also had meetings with the Council Leader, Cllr Dave Green*, who did seem supportive of our needs for those we meet on our Soup Runs. It’s been a busy year, but it’s now got a bit embarrassing.
The council officers we’d met are now saying that more senior officers haven’t yet decided to do anything; that the bulldozers will be soon knocking down the Wetherby Engineering building [opposite where we are]; and we mustn’t receive ‘betterment’ [that means we shouldn’t seek to get a better unit than the one we already have] as a result of their kicking us off our site to build a swimming pool – as if the new pool will be built like the old municipal baths of some 30 years ago! Remember, we didn’t ask to move: we were told we’d have to. And it was even more embarrassing that we only found out about this via the Telegraph & Argus. The Council said they didn’t know how to get in touch with us [most people can find us without too much difficulty]; also, they didn’t know who our landlords are – it’s Bradford Council!
Briefly, moving our existing unit is not an option – it’s been open to the elements for about 20 years and, if moved, the door and windows will not work without extensive repairs. Moving it would classify it as a ‘new build’ which means a fire door, electric lighting, disabled access and insulation above and below the floor and ceiling [anyone taller than 5’10” would have to crouch down]. When added up, this work would amount to tens of thousands of pounds – and all to provide a unit which is not fit for purpose…
So, we made plans for a larger unit which would enable everyone we meet to sit inside in the warmth whilst they ate. We’re currently providing for 100, yet only 43 can be seated and our numbers have grown in the past year [and show signs of increasing].
“Oh, but we must be careful with the use of Council monies” the Council said. And quite right, too. What a shame they didn’t think of that before they gave the directors of Wetherby Engineering £1,000,000 for their building.
At least it will provide a talking point when you next meet someone from the Council. Feel free to ask them to tell you about their concern for Bradford’s homeless…
* We did ask Cllr Green how much Bradford Council had given in grants to voluntary groups in the past 31 years – £60-90,000,000. We then asked him how much The Bradford Soup Run had ever requested. We saved him the time: Nothing.
Here’s the PDF of the Christmas card: