St George's Crypt

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by St George's Crypt's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from St George's Crypt is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

CEO Chris Fields
The site for our first new
build project, Hedley Chase
Chris Fields, CEO of St George’s Crypt, believes firmly
in Leeds’ ambition to end homelessness and provide a
safety net that catches anyone teetering on the edge.
The charity is local, well respected and based in the heart of
the city, where it works closely with the NHS, the council and
a wide range of corporate and third-sector partners. Now
approaching its 88th birthday, it supports the most vulnerable
in our society to return to sustainable tenancies through a range
of measured interventions including healthcare, training and the
provision of suitable housing. Chris elaborates and discusses the
factors exacerbating Leeds’ homelessness problem.
Building on our core Christian foundation, we continue to develop and host
innovative solutions to homelessness and its causes.
From humble beginnings
In the early days, Reverend Don Robins established one of Britain’s first social
enterprises, teaching the city’s homeless to fashion coat hangers from scrap metal.
Giving a skill to those who need it the most was seen by Don as a way out of
poverty and homelessness.
Today, we run social enterprise cafés and shops, provide drug and alcohol
rehabilitation, supply a range of training programmes and work closely with other
charities to develop corporate contacts. We don’t work solely with the homeless –
we provide work and work experience for vulnerable people in all walks of life.
»CEO: Chris Fields
»Established in 2011
»Based in Leeds
»Services: Homeless support
»No. of employees: 73
»While we were established
as a charity in 2011 we have
been operating since 1930
and are approaching our 88th
St George’s Crypt
Highlighting best practice
At the core, our message remains the
same: if you are a stranger, we will
let you in, we will feed you, we will
clothe you and we will support you
to find suitable accommodation in a
community that you understand.
New, specialised
accommodation in Leeds
We have begun an ambitious
programme of building fit-for-purpose,
high-quality move-on accommodation
with on-site training opportunities for
those who are no longer homeless.
By connecting with community
groups and grassroots third-sector
organisations, we are able to augment
our offer with an integrated approach.
Our work is supported by the many
training partnerships that we have
established across the city of Leeds,
and also by the integrated approach
that we take toward ensuring health
and wellbeing. Our regional and
national partnerships allow us to
provide a safe and trusted environment
to deliver the innovative programmes
that we are so passionate about.
Empowering recovery for
those who need it
By giving homeless people access
to a non-judgmental, informal and
professional environment, and by
engaging with them at every stage
of the development journey, we are
building a citywide service that the
most vulnerable can use to return to
their community.
Most notably, we run a The Growing
Rooms – a drug and alcohol
rehabilitation service. This unique
residential recovery centre offers
clients a space over their heads while
they undertake their rehabilitation.
They work through a series of class-
based theory exercises, exploring their
addiction while also engaging in a
range of volunteering and training
opportunities developing their living
skills. After a year clean, we work
with clients to support them to move
independently into their own property,
while still offering continued support.
Corporate and political
partnerships across the city
All of our work is supported by a wider
marketing function that keeps the city
council in the loop with everything
we do. We simply would not be able
to operate without their support.
Alongside individual donors, we are
also supported by Leeds’ statutory,
corporate and academic institutions.
We have also worked closely with
a variety of companies based in the
city, notably in the property and legal
sectors. This has grown over the last
ten years, particularly through a local
annual charity singing event, The
Crypt Factor, which has raised around
£400,000 overall. This has done a lot
to boost many business’ awareness
of our work, and many companies
who have participated continue to
Our building work is supported by a
development team comprised of senior
executives from a range of local legal,
financial, architectural and construction
businesses. They have worked tirelessly
with our local council to highlight
Health and wellbeing
offered in partnership
with Visioncare for the
At the core,
our message
remains the
same: if you
are a stranger,
we will let you
in, we will
feed you, we
will clothe you
and we will
support you
potential government grants and
loan schemes that have supported
the viability of projects, while also
searching for appropriate land that
suits our vision of providing high-
quality, low-cost supported housing.
A challenge only becoming
more complex
Our strategic partnership with the
local authority and government has
improved massively over the past few
years. Things have only got better in
that regard, and support is greater
than ever. This comes, however, in the
face of complex issues that are only
becoming tougher and tougher to
We end up taking in many people
that others can’t or won’t pick up.
In some cases, people come here
who have fairly significant physical
and psychological issues as a result
of substance misuse issues, and a
hospital may not be appropriately
equipped to help out. They have
nowhere else to go – but our team are
not specialist nurses or social workers.
We’re experienced, but the increasing
complexities that people are presenting
with is a real concern going forwards.
With the advent of new synthetic
substances like spice and monkey dust,
there’s increasing pressure on our staff
to be able to help. Our partnerships
are excellent – but they must get
better if we are to continue providing
advanced opportunities and pathways
for those we help.
Universal Credit and universal
Universal Credit in and of itself is not
a bad idea. We could see many more
people entering our doors, however,
during the transition period. When
people find themselves without
benefits for four or five weeks as a
result of the new scheme, many will
come to us, and this puts additional
pressure on our staff.
With a variety of other services
experiencing funding cuts, more and
more people will be sleeping rough
and have to come to us. The same is
true of the third sector – almost every
charity is constantly seeking funding,
and that puts us under greater
pressure to keep driving efficiency
Changing people’s perception
of homeless charities
In the public sphere, people simply
don’t have the best perception
of charities like ours. Pressing the
profile and need for our work is so
necessary, but it’s incredibly tough to
change people’s minds and get the
The cost for society of not engaging
with homelessness is massive, and
it will permeate into other issues. It
has to be a sensible choice for people
to support the work we do, and we
have to encourage the government to
keep putting affordable housing and
sustainable options for the future near
the top of their agenda. If they don’t,
the fallout, not just for those on the
streets, but for everyone in Britain,
could be monumental indeed.
The cost for
society of not
engaging with
is massive
»131 individuals
»632 bed spaces
»2,081 meals served
»54 food parcels given
Fundraising runners
stood by our front door

This article was sponsored by St George's Crypt. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister