Bishop of Truro Philip Mounstephen visited Cornwall homeless charity Harbour Housing recently to tour the facilities and chat with staff and residents.
He recently took over the role from Tim Thornton and has been taking the time to get to know local groups and organisations within his jurisdiction.
The Bishop was taken on a tour of Cosgarne Hall, Harbour’s supported accommodation facility in St Austell, which included the chance to look around both the main building and the attached small holding where Harbour keeps an assortment of animals including chickens, pigs and a llama.
Afterwards, he was shown one of the rooms in Harbour’s Vulnerable Female Unit to which he joked: ‘It’s like looking around one of the show home modules in IKEA!’
The Bishop and Diocesan Secretary Esther Pollard were invited to join residents, staff and volunteers for lunch where they had the opportunity to hear individual stories and testimonies.
They were joined by local religious figures including Howard Flint and Ian Gulland from Holy Trinity-St Austell and Kevin Prinsloo from South Coast Church.
The Bishop has demonstrated a strong interest in homelessness and what is being done to address it, having also recently visited DISC in Newquay where services including Harbour provide drop-in support to those experiencing homelessness.
He was very complimentary of the work done at DISC, particularly the multi-agency approach taken by the team there which brings together housing, wellbeing and health services under one roof.
With a strong background in charity and aid, the Bishop has a wealth of experience to draw upon in this area and spoke about how his work overseas helped to shape his view on these matters.
He addressed Harbour staff and trustees saying: ‘I’m not only grateful for your work and hospitality, but I’m also very impressed with the services you provide.
‘You are the safety net under every other safety net when people don’t have much further to fall.
‘It’s wonderful to see people with complex needs not just being given housing, but a community and a home.
‘I will be a friend and advocate for you as much as I can.’
Gareth Bray, chair of Harbour’s board of trustees, said:
“We were humbled by the down-to-earth approach demonstrated by the Bishop, as well as his realistic view on homelessness.
“Both residents and staff were instantly put at ease by his manner, and we look forward to doing what we can to develop this friendship.”