In the News

In the News:
Will residents here stomach food charity?

by Caroline McClatchey
Islington Express (UK)

Posted March 19, 2005

(February 25th) A HARE Krishna homeless charity is moving to Islington after angry residents forced it out of Camden.

The Food for All charity has been helping and feeding the homeless from its Royal College Street base for almost three years.

They were evicted last week after a long history of complaints from neighbours about the behaviour of people attending the centre.

Peter O'Grady is director of the charity that is run by Hare Krishnas, Groundswell and the Big Issue. He said: "We surveyed 350 clients and half said they would go back to stealing to feed themselves. And 100 people will lose their job through the Big Issue.

"We get up to 400 people here a week."

Food for All has put a deposit on a building in Islington, close to the train station at King's Cross.

If the lease is agreed, Mr O'Grady said the new project would be much more low-key to begin with.

He is hoping to get planning permission for activities such as computer training courses, art therapy and drug counselling, but has ruled out dishing out food to hungry mouths.

He said: "I won't be doing any food. It's nearly a crime to give out food these days. People cannot learn on an empty stomach.

"It will be a lot more low key with only 10 to 15 people coming through the door until I have secured the support of the neighbours and traders.

"No one wants homeless people on their doorstep. I want to show by example that we are able to manage the place in a very proper way."

The charity currently runs a variety of courses for the homeless and helps people get back to work. It is also a distribution point for the Big Issue magazine.

It was ordered to leave Royal College Street by Camden Council after residents claimed their lives had been made a misery because of people fighting, vomiting and taking drugs on the streets.

Councillor Gerry Harrison said: "Places like the Spectrum Centre in Greenland Road just do it better and people aren't vomiting all over the place. There are never the same problems with the soup kitchens but I will be sorry to see Peter go.

"Maybe Islington will be more tolerant."