Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Green Pastures focuses on eliminating poverty

March 20 2013
As benefit cuts bite, the charity increases its efforts to find appropriate housing across the UK

 

As benefit cuts continue, Green Pastures has increased its efforts to find appropriate housing for vulnerable people in towns and cities across the UK.

Originally founded in Southport in 1997, the organisation has remodeled since 2006, when it began to receive enquiries from all across the country (The Pavement first covered their work in 2009). With a desire to see homelessness completely eradicated, the Christian charity restructured, working closely with partner organisations to provide homes for the needy.

“Once a partner has signed, we work with them in their town to find a suitable, affordable property to buy for them,” explained Pastor Peter Cunningham. “We then release them to accomplish their vision locally.”

This gives partners the opportunity to put their own stamp on the way they operate, without feeling like they are part of a corporate chain. Referrals are run differently according to area and demand.

At present the charity has more than 240 houses and works with 33 partners across the UK, which has already assisted many homeless people. As part of its vision to move forward nationally, the charity is keen to develop up to 200 units of its own, some of which are already with planners at various local authorities.

Although the charity is run by Christians, the organisation operates a no discrimination policy, meaning anyone can volunteer and all vulnerable groups are treated equally when it comes to finding housing.

“Green Pastures partners vary in their work, their structure and their background,” explained Cunningham. “One partner in Manchester, the Boaz Trust, works with asylum seekers whilst two others in Stoke on Trent and Wakefield work specifically with hardened criminals just exiting prison. The national average figure for re-offending is 68 per cent, yet in Stoke on Trent figures are in single digits and in Wakefield they are in the low teens.” He added that despite the success, government ministers have yet to adopt the model as a nationwide policy.

Green Pastures is currently negotiating with local authorities to acquire some empty properties. “It’s almost a crime that there are nearly 800,000 empty homes which, with a bit of work by us, could house the homeless,” said Cunningham. “If only Councils would sell or even give us some of these we could increase our effectiveness.”

As recession continues to bite and the new bedroom tax causes confusion and hardship, the need for the charity will continue to grow. Meanwhile other issues which affect poverty, such as food and bills, also need to be addressed. “For example poorer families are the ones who are given an electricity meter, yet in reality those families have to pay a standing charge for the meter,” commented Cunningham. “In some cases they pay 18 pence per unit or more. It’s often a case of heat or eat and it will get worse.”

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