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‘We can’t believe this’ anger as Crawley church directed to stop allowing homeless in for weekly meal

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There is anger and disappointment in Crawley today as a weekly event held for the homeless and special needs has had to take drastic action following a Church directive.

The weekly event is held at The Friary Church of St Francis and St Anthony in the town centre.

Every week the church hall next door is opened up to allow hot food to be served to up to sixty homeless and special need people.

The food is supplied and cooked by a different church in the area every week and this week it was the turn of St Paul’s Methodist church.

But a call to one of the volunteers, Sara, has threatened this weekly event from ever taking place again.

“I received a call from our church informing us that The Friary had been given a directive preventing us from using the church hall even though they are still running church services.”

The directive appears to be as a result of action being taken across the rest of the country to prevent mass gatherings of people and to also prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

One of the founders of the event, Alison, was in complete shock at the decision and at complete loss at how they would be able to help homeless people. She has worked tirelessly every week for the last few years to ensure this needed service was always available.

The volunteers have taken it upon themselves today to set up their service in the churches car park, but even that has brought about its own problems as The Friary church also refused to allow them to run an extension cable to the porch so they could use a microwave and kettle citing ‘health and safety reasons’.

Volunteer Sara explained how she managed to arrange friends to help with one even bringing along their camper van just so they could heat up water.

“We know that from 1pm today people will start to turn up expecting a hot meal in a warm environment and they just wont get it. Everyone is banding together to help but what about next week and the week after?said Sara.

“The least the church could have done was let us use some electricity.”

When asked what they would do if they didn’t allow them to use the car park instead Sara said, “if they turn us away we will move to the layby outside.”

Sara did add, “We know this isn’t The Friary’s fault and is a directive they’ve had to follow. We are obviously so grateful for all the years they have allowed us to do this and hope they will continue to do so after this comes to a conclusion.”

The Friary has been contacted for comment.

If you feel you can in any way then please get in touch with us here on the newsdesk and we will forward any messages and/or contact details on. Email: newsdesk@crawleynews24.co.uk

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Three Bridges, Crawley Tesco store gives a helping hand to veterans in need

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Lee Matthews, former Queens Royal Irish Hussar.

British armed forces veterans who face hardship and distress have benefited from a military annual fundraiser, with a little help from a Tesco Crawley store.

Former members of the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars met up at the 4th Worth Scouts Hut in Crawley to reminisce about past events and enjoy their yearly BBQ.

They also had a range of fundraising events on the day, raising £537, with all proceeds going to The Veterans’ Charity.

Throughout the pandemic, the charity has continued to deliver vital support to veterans and their families, including food shopping, essential household products and toiletries, utilities credit, clothing, and smartphones to enable continued communication and to prevent isolation.

Many of the items donated to the veterans’ fundraiser came from the Three Bridges Tesco Extra store, whose staff are keen supporters of the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars’ annual event.

Martin Weathers, a Tesco staff member and fundraiser for The Veterans’ Charity.

Martin Weathers, a Tesco staff member and fundraiser for The Veterans’ Charity, was among those at the event, having served with The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars.

He said:

“I’m very grateful to Tesco for their generosity. Our annual BBQ was extremely enjoyable and entertaining, and it continues the brotherhood that most people miss after leaving the Forces.

“Leaving service life can be a dreadful time, especially for those who have been in for a long time, and some may have associated physical or psychological problems such as combat post-traumatic stress disorder.

“This is why get-togethers like this are so important, and Tesco’s contribution to helping us raise funds for service-people in need is incredibly important.

“It helps to provide much-needed funds for The Veterans’ Charity, enabling it to supply things such as basic food shopping for our most vulnerable veterans who have fallen on hard times.

“This year has been the busiest ever for The Veterans’ Charity, with more than 540 welfare requests. These are often referrals from other charities, but some have been directly from struggling veterans themselves, and all of them were satisfactorily resolved within 24 hours of the charity being contacted.”

Tesco has a long association with the Armed Forces, dating back to Tesco founder Jack Cohen and is a signatory to the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Covenant. About 300 Tesco employees are members of the supermarket chain’s Armed Forces Network, and the supermarket is one of the largest employers of reservists and former service personnel.

Matt Ayling, manager at the Three Bridges Tesco Extra store, said:

“We’re really pleased to be able to help the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. Its members are amazing people and we all have a lot to thank them for, so our store is always keen to assist them if we can.”

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