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Lord Mayor helps out voluntary helpers
The work of a voluntary group caring for the “forgotten people of Bradford” was commended by the Lord Mayor during his visit.
The Immanuel Project provides a safe environment for vulnerable and homeless people.
Since starting the scheme about two years ago, the volunteers have seen the numbers grow from a handful to 120 regular users. The project provides food and joins people together to sing and worship at what they call ‘street church’ at St Mary’s Church in East Parade, Bradford.
It also provides health and beauty treatments offering haircuts, make-up application and local chiropodists visit when they can.
Talks are given on the dangers of drugs, and those who struggle with reading and writing are helped.
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Dale Smith, sprinkled sunshine on the group last year as part of his appeal when he gave it £3,000 and, to get an insight into the work it does, he has paid a visit He said: “My visit was fascinating and once again highlighted the positive work being quietly done across the district to help the most vulnerable return to a more appropriate life style. It was a real pleasure to join the volunteers, chat to the service users.”
The scheme is entirely volunteer led and relies purely on donations. Among its regular helpers are former Bradford City star Wayne Jacobs and former Bradford Bulls coach Brian Noble.
Janet Bannister, founder of the project said: “Street church is one of the biggest draws that bring the people. They come for more than the food, they come for care, love and friendship.
“About 80 per cent of the people we meet may have been in prison, may be homeless or living off a friend’s sofa and come for the company.
“We help get people into rehab who need it and those who need re-housing into accommodation.
“The people are cared for and we look after them and serve them, and treat them like they should be treated. Someone said to me once, you are the only person who has cared for me who hasn’t been paid to do so, and that has really stuck with me.”
The next step is to introduce a 12 week programme teaching a few steps from the Bible with the incentive of getting a certificate at the end.