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Boss calls on West Berkshire businesses to help homeless into work

Swift Group MD gets backing from Newbury MP in bid to support rough-sleepers

Chris Ord

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Chris Ord

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01635 886639

Boss calls on West Berkshire businesses to help homeless into work

A NEWBURY business director is calling for more to be done to help the homeless back into work after discovering one of his own employees had been living in a tent.

Managing director of Swift Group, Adrian Smith, said he was “outraged” to find out one of his temporary workers was forced to sleep rough and has now taken on the 28-year-old on a full-time basis and paid for him to stay in a hotel so he can save up for a deposit on more permanent accommodation.

However, Mr Smith, who has around 120 full-time employees working for his Hambridge Lane-based firm, has called on politicians, local authorities and businesses to work together to find ways to get homeless people into employment.

He said: “I came to work and there were paramedics treating one of our temps who had had an epileptic fit.

“After speaking with him it turned out he hadn’t been getting the medication because he was living in a tent at the end of Hambridge Lane.

“This is the 21st century in West Berkshire and I’ve got people living in sleeping bags when it’s minus four degrees outside.

“These are working people – they didn’t choose to put themselves there. I was outraged. And I was ashamed because I’m part of the establishment. People need to start doing something to stop this happening.”

Mr Smith feels companies, who he says profit from people in the local community, need to be given incentives to take rough sleepers on to their workforce and has called on Newbury MP Richard Benyon and West Berkshire Council to get involved in the issue.

“Businesses can’t identify these people themselves, but the council will have a list of those sleeping in hostels and temporary accommodation,” Mr Smith said.

“Working with the council, working with local landlords we can highlight the right people, get them into our work places and into safe housing.

“You never know, now, in 10 years time he may be able to afford his own house, or in 10 weeks time he could have frozen to death sleeping in a tent.”

The logistics firm director suggested tax breaks in order to provide the incentive for businesses to take on the homeless.

And, while he admits any such system may be open to abuse, at least, for him, it is a chance he is willing to take to “do the right thing”.

“If we want to step over these people and pretend they aren’t there, if your stomach’s strong enough, that’s fine – mine isn’t,” he said.

“There are people who are out there who want to work.

“I may get it wrong, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take.”

MP Richard Benyon said Mr Smith’s actions should be applauded, adding he was “really up” for a conversation with people about how to improve the help offered to the homeless in West Berkshire.

He said: “I’ve agreed to meet with Mr Smith to hopefully get him involved in the conversations we are having with organisations like Loose Ends.

“It’s a complex issue, but I’m absolutely determined to see us in a better situation in the months and years ahead.”

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Article comments

  • spikey

    spikey

    18/01/2017 - 17:05

    Louise try for a month living on the streets with out bank cards or money, unable to,wash your clothes,and proper hot food and drinks, and also find away to stay and keep warm in freezing and poor weather. Also Live without a tv, and computers and mobile phone. For a whole month. Whilst living in fear whilst you try to sleep without having bad stuff happen to you. Then tell us how it feels this person may of been made homeless due to gov cuts, or could afford rent, or lived with family member in their home and had to move as they may off passed away. Don't be so disrespectful to what you don't know, I be been homeless from a young age all over the uk. I would like to take you to places and so you what it is like being homeless

    Reply

  • YPACF

    18/01/2017 - 13:01

    Check out Young People and Children First www.youngpeopleandchildrenfirst.org.uk , a local charity that does just what you are asking for. We welcome individual and company sponsors and donations. :-) and are happy to come and explain our work if required.

    Reply

  • Louise

    Louise

    18/01/2017 - 13:01

    Question is why is he homeless in the first place? I don't subscribe to the view that the state (taxpayer) has a responsibility to put a roof over everyone's head. Doubt you even get that in North Korea.

    Reply

    • YoureBeingAPMS

      19/01/2017 - 10:10

      Hey Louise, are you a taxpayer? If not, then that statement was completely irrelevent, and so is your statement irrevelent if you work less than 37.5hours a week. However, if you do read the full article, you'll find he DOES work, and he's ALWAYS worked. Before you put in a completely derogatory comment, please read properly and educate yourself. How did you afford to live comfortably? Do you pay for everything you do or does your husband pay for everything? Have you ever thought that life doesn't always go your way? Do you realise how hard it is for somebody who is struggling but does STILL work and is MALE to actually get help? Stop being so bitter and go live in North Korea if it so suits you.

      Reply

    • Sam1993

      19/01/2017 - 10:10

      I'm not sure you've read the article fully Louise. The man mentioned in this article had been working for the firm for several months, and had years of prior working history; so he is a taxpayer, contributing directly to the welfare tax that others who don't work receive, much like you & I do. Despite this fact, he was still unable to attain permanent accommodation, despite working full time, and being a taxpayer. People like him, should qualify for accommodation well in advance of those who choose not to work. For most people in his situation, they want to work but are not usually given the opportunity to work within a firm without a permanent place of residence. This needs to be addressed by the government and local councils, and companies should be doing what they can to help these people. The more homeless people taken into work, the more tax generated into the country, which exactly what the country wants. Sorry, I don't see how your comment was relevant to this article at all.

      Reply

    • Ihavenonickname

      18/01/2017 - 14:02

      Perhaps you should move to North Korea then? Seems that you'd fit in well!

      Reply

    • Harworkingman

      18/01/2017 - 14:02

      Lets hope you never fall on hard times then

      Reply

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