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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy