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Seeking homes for the homeless

MAIDSTONE Christian Care is looking to buy its own property to provide accom- modation for homeless peo- ple.

The charity estimates that

there are 25 rough sleepers in the county town and offers food, washing and support during the day from its base in Maidstone Day Centre, Knightrider Street. MCC has links with some

bed and breakfasts in Maid- stone who provide accommo- dation when there are empty rooms, but this is limited to commercial availability and of- fers little short-term stability. The group is trying to raise

funds to buy a home of multi- ple occupation dedicated for homeless accommodation. Mike FitzGerald, chairman

of MCC, said: “Maidstone has no permanent emergency ac- commodation for rough sleep- ers, so the B&Bsweworkwith offer a quick and effective so- lution to the problems of rough sleeping during ex- treme weather, while their practical needs are addressed during the daytime at this centre. “We would like to expand

to buy a house of multiple oc- cupation. It would be a short- term solution for homeless people and we could move them on when they were ready.”

Charity curry THE Kent Charities Group will be hosting a charity curry din- ner at the Raja of Kent, in Union Street, Maidstone. The event, at 7pm on Thurs-

day, March 7, will raise money for member charities including Hi Kent, Kent People’s Trust, Young Kent, Blackthorn Trust, Dandelion Time and Porch- light. Tickets cost £20 per person,

and include a three-course din- ner.

They can be bought from Liz Clayton at Hi Kent, 18 Brewer Street, Maidstone ME14 1RU, call 01622 691151 or email

Gates erected IRON gates may be erected to the central tower of Arch- bishop’s Palace to prevent the area being used by sleepers. A supporting statement said:

“The design consists of the in- stallation of complementary gates to prevent the use of the central tower as a sleeping area for vagrants. “The gates will closely match

the existing central arch gates in style, materials and finish.” Maidstone Council will de- termine the planning applica- tion.

KCC chairman Richard King,Maidstone mayor Rodd Nelson-Gracie andMike FitzGerald

A typical day at the centre 8am – Breakfast served. Clients can shower and

change into clean clothes. The centre offers a pool table, TV, laundry, emergency clothing, phone calls, help and advice. Midday – Lunch is served. 1.30pm–Centre closes. Clients leavewith sandwiches and staff turn to the Food for Thought campaign, mak- ing up and delivering food parcels.

Started from a car boot MAIDSTONE Christian Care started in 1986 when deputy headmistress Patricia McCabe and pupils from Maidstone Girls Grammar School first started a soup run from the boot of Pat’s car. Over the next few years, alongside the soup

runs, local churches offered the use of their premises so that volunteers from MCC could provide hot meals for the homeless. The first Maidstone Day Centre opened in

1995 before moving to the current purpose built premises in Knightrider Street in 2004. It costs around £125,000 a year to run and is funded by KCC, Maidstone Council, Maid- stone Lions, Friends of Maidstone Day Centre and individual donations. Its policy is never to turn away people in need and it does not matter if prospective clients do not have the correct paperwork when they arrive.

Van will help charity deliver food parcels

MORE food can now be distrib- uted to those in need after Maidstone Christian Care un- veiled its new van. Since 2005 the charity has

run a community food share scheme called Food For Thought, which provides food parcels to those who have en- countered hard times. Unlike the day centre, which

helps people who visit in per- son, the scheme is restricted to referrals from school liaison of- ficers, probation services, health visitors, housing associ- ations, hostels, child and eld-

erly groups and charities. Parcels are given to those

who have had a dramatic change in circumstances that makes them vulnerable. Until the end of last year, the charity only had a single van, which restricted the amount of food that could be sent out. But thanks to funding from Maid- stone Council, Maidstone Com- munity Support Centre, Friends of Maidstone Christian care and Maidstone Lions, an- other van has been bought. Mike FitzGerald, chairman of MCC, said the demand for food

Unisex loos leave users flushed NEW loos at Maidstone’s showpiece History and Library Centre have come in for a panning from visitors. The unisex approach to the conveniences has left both men and women red-faced – and bombarding KCC with complaints. The £12m history and heritage centre, opened last year, in James WhatmanWay,was lauded as a state-of-the-art facility, offering one of themost comprehensive county archives in the country. However, the lavatories have left some customers a little flushed.

A spokesman for KCC said: “The Kent History and Library Cen- tre is a state-of-the-art facility, purpose-built to protect and dis- play our archive materials and provide a 21st century library for the county. “Unisex toilets are commonplace in many public buildings,

and allow mothers to accompany their young sons and fathers to accompany their young daughters to the toilet. “We have been responding and reacting to any concerns that

our customers have expressed, including putting up more no- ticeable signs that the toilets available are unisex.”

Revised homes plan submitted A PLANNING application has been submitted for six detached homes on land at High View Farm, Lordswood Lane, Lordswood. A scheme for eight dwellings on land to the south was refused

on appeal in 2002, on the grounds that the site was considered to make a positive contribution to an Area of Local Landscape Im- portance (ALLI) and would restrict views to the woodland in Beechen Bank. Further applications for residential development were refused in 2005 and 2006. Mr Mercer’s supporting statement says the latest proposal will

allow for views on the trees into Beechen Bank. It said: “The site is now physically more enclosed along its Lordswood Lane frontage than when previous applications were considered. “The site is capable of accommodating the scale of development proposed, without having a serious and prejudicial impact on its landscape function or character of the surrounding area.” Maidstone Council will determine the planning application.

parcels had increased in the past six months and would continue to increase as a result of govern- ment changes in benefits. “Without all the donations

and volunteers we would be struggling as a charity,” he said. “Food is donated by local com- panies, schools, churches and individuals. “As well as individuals and

their families, the scheme cur- rently provides for 12 school breakfast clubs as well as hos- tels, care homes and day cen- tres for the elderly and disabled.”

Student death ATHEATRE student fromGrove Green has died suddenly after an epileptic seizure, aged just 21.

Ellis Powell, a former Corn-

wallis Academy pupil, was in the final year of a three-year mu- sical theatre course at Mandy Ellen PerformingArts College in Earl Street where she particu- larly excelled at dancing. She also taught technique to younger college pupils. She leaves mum and step-dad Sharon and Neil Cole, brother Tomand stepsiblings Emily and Harry.

Signs of spring ENJOY the sights and sounds of Maidstone’s Mote Park with a new season of guided walks. On Saturday, March 16, there

will be a nature walk, looking out for the first signs of spring. The walk, from 10am to 1pm,

is a free activity, but participants are asked to book places through moteparkevents@ maidstone., quoting the date and ac- tivity.

Rifle club request BEARSTED and Thurnham Rifle Club has been given per- mission to extend its club house next to the White Horse on The Green, Bearsted.

You can e-mail the Downs Mail — East 19

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