A vicar in the Cornish resort of Newquay has made a bold attempt to end the scandal of homeless people dying on the town’s streets, by opening up his church as a night shelter.
But Rev Chris McQuillen-Wright, of St Columb Minor Church has been told he is the "the most hated man in Newquay" for leaving the doors of his church open for anyone seeking an overnight refuge.
At least six rough sleepers died in the seaside town during 2011, prompting calls for provision of a hostel.
But the need was so dire that Rev McQuillen-Wright, who is the vice chairman of homelessness charity ‘St Petroc’s Society’ decided to make his church available as a short term measure.
He told the Cornish Guardian: "Opening the church to homeless people was demand-led, and based upon the story of King David's men finding sanctuary in holy places. There's no supervision and no food, unless we have some available; it's simply an alternative to the stars, the rain and the cold.
"Homelessness is a big problem and Cornwall is the second highest-ranked area in the UK. There's no shock at the six deaths in Newquay, just deep sadness."
But some of his parishioners have been less pleased, the Vicar told a town council committee meeting he had been told by one local: “You're the most hated man in this town. You've allowed this scum into our town'."
Police have reported that there has been no associated increase in any reported crime in the area.
Rev McQuillen-Wright added: "I can understand why not everyone in the village is happy with these arrangements and I have listened to several local residents who have approached me with their concerns."
"However, at the end of the day we've had deaths in Newquay and we need to try to alleviate the problem. If the church opening its doors helps with this, then that's what I'll do."
January 27th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross