Chelmsford trade unionists gather food for the homeless this Christmas

Trade unionists in Chelmsford are collecting food and supplies for the city’s homeless this Christmas, UNISON announced today.

Staff working for UNISON Eastern region are gathering together everything from tinned tomatoes to dish cloths to help local homelessness charity CHESS.

CHESS provides temporary accommodation for 32 individuals for 365 days a year, offering an additional 10 bed spaces to rough sleepers over the harsh winter months.

It is organising its annual Big Sleep Out in the grounds of Chelmsford Cathedral this Friday to raise much-needed cash to keep going.

UNISON Eastern, which is based near Chelmsford Cathedral, represents more than 90,000 public service workers in the East of England who have felt the sharp end of austerity over the last decade.

UNISON Eastern welfare organiser Kate Stafford said: “Trade unions are founded on solidarity and that’s why the staff here in Chelmsford are digging deep to help the homeless this Christmas.

“Those sleeping in doorways this winter are feeling the Tories’ austerity agenda most brutally: the ongoing cuts to social housing, strangling of mental health services and drastic reduction in homelessness support have left growing numbers of people with no choice but to spend their nights on the streets of Chelmsford.

“UNISON has fought hard against the assault on these vital public services, both for our members’ jobs and the public who rely on them.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s left to organisations like CHESS to pick up the pieces, but UNISON staff are pleased to help in this small way to support the city’s homeless.”

CHESS executive director Rob Saggs said: “CHESS homeless is extremely grateful to have the local community’s support in helping to bring relief to the homeless.

“I would like to thank the team at UNISON for offering support by the provision of food and supplies to CHESS this winter to our service users.”