Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Tory MP Philip Davies gets his hands dirty - yes, really

May 21 2009
The honourable member for Shipley is exposed to the realities faced by homeless people As part of the Centre for Social Justice's (CSJ) Inner City Challenge, Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, spent four days at St George's Crypt talking to service users, helping to prepare meals and even cleaning toilets. "The charity organised a full timetable for Philip,"said Chris Bullivant, a spokesman for the Conservative think-tank CSJ. "He did everything that the volunteers regularly do, including a night shift. There was no red carpet treatment." Mr Davies is the 12th MP to take part in the challenge, in which homelessness has been a key theme. Ed Vaizey, MP for Wantage and Didcot, was placed at the The King's Arms Project in Bedford, while John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare, volunteered at Emmaus Bristol. The idea behind the project is to expose MPs to the realities faced by homeless people, drug addicts and those trapped in poverty. "This is not a PR stunt,"said Mr Bullivant. "They cannot score points with voters because they have to volunteer with organisations out of their constituency. And in some cases, where the charity prefers to stay out of the public eye, they cannot publicise their involvement." Martin Patterson, spokesman for St George's Crypt, supported the scheme. "Mr Davies arrived with a loose understanding of homelessness and social exclusion,"he said. "But he left with a much more sophisticated view. He can now go back to parliament and tell them what great work we do." Mr Davies was ebullient about the experience. "I had an amazing four days,"he said. The MP was also struck by the marked difference between a charity like the Crypt and government initiatives. "The volunteer sector is far better at dealing with the issues of homelessness than the statutory sector,"he said. "They are passionate about it, tailoring their service to individual needs. By comparison, the inflexible rules of local authorities make them seem like the enemy."