Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee spent a day with Rachel in Leeds West back in October 2013 and wrote an article about her experiences for The Guardian - click here to read online.
The focus of the day was housing and visits included a trip to the St George’s Crypt food bank at St Bartholomew’s Church in Armley, with Father Ian Wright and Martin Patterson from the Crypt. This was followed by a meeting with Leeds City Council Housing executives, who have recently taken back control of social housing in the city from Arms Length Management Organisations, at the St George’s Crypt Cafe in Armley.
Rachel then took Polly to Bramley Baths for an intimate roundtable meeting with residents affected by the recent changes to Housing Benefit – the “Bedroom Tax”. They were joined by representatives from Leeds City Council and Leeds Federated Housing who spoke with residents regarding their concerns. A public meeting then followed at St Margaret’s Church in Bramley, where many attendees shared their housing difficulties.
The day was rounded off with a screening of Cathy Come Home at the Armley Mills Industrial Museum in Armley, with the money raised from ticket sales going to Shelter. Polly gave a speech to attendees and answered questions before the film began.
The day highlighted some of the difficult situations local residents are in due to the government’s welfare reforms. More people than ever are relying on the Armley food bank to feed their family, those who need carers to stay with them are penalised by the Bedroom Tax and unable to make ends meet, and people who have spent thousands of pounds improving their homes are now at risk of losing them due to the benefit changes.