Dear Reader: Fantastic help for Harrogate homeless + Harrogate recycling fiasco

Harrogate Homeless Project helper Sophie Morgans hands over a warm drink.  (1812182AM4)
Harrogate Homeless Project helper Sophie Morgans hands over a warm drink. (1812182AM4)

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

The tragedy of people sleeping rough in Harrogate town centre is illuminated in the festive season under the glare of Christmas lights like no other time.

Odd as it may sound, it somehow feels more wrong than in, say, March or September.

But what is to be done about it?

Doing good is not always simple.

Do you give people shelter for the evening?

If so, what happens the following day?

Do you help them when they’re also afflicted by drug addiction or mental health issues?

If so, do you also address those problems, too, and, if so, how?

Who does this and who pays for it all?

I had the privilege to be invited inside Harrogate Homeless Project’s day centre for the homeless near Oxford Street earlier this week.

I wasn’t there to be impressed by the work done at Springboard by staff and volunteers who were busily serving up hot meals when I arrived, the chief executive Liz Hancock included.

But impressed I was.

On a personal note, I always feel awful walking past someone sleeping rough or begging on the streets. Handing over a pound coin in the circumstances seems the least you can do, especially when a part of you feels the urge to invite them to come home.

Thank goodness for local charity groups such as the Harrogate Homeless Project which fill the gap between the individual’s caution and the modern state’s increasing failings.

For the second time in the last few months I came home last week to discover that the dustbin men hadn’t emptied my recycling box.

A trivial point in itself but it is part of a far bigger issue, one that counts.

In the battle against climate change, it is clearly the little things all of us do day-in and day-out which makes a difference for good or ill.

That’s why the national news this week was full of details of the Government’s new strategy on recycling.

It’s hard to argue with most of the measures announced so far but it made me think about what’s happening where we live.

I don’t doubt the commitment of either Harrogate Borough Council or North Yorkshire County Council to improve the area’s carbon footprint.

Both bodies have gone to some trouble to work closely with concerned residents groups such as Zero Carbon Harrogate and Plastic Free Harrogate.

At the start of the year, I visited the premises of Harrogate Spring Water to talk to its dynamic managing director James Cain OBE about this very subject.

Among a lot of good stuff, he briefly touched on something which, perhaps, sums up where Britain is right now.

There aren’t, he almost whispered, enough recycling plants based in this country to actually handle all the waste.

As for my little issue with the recycling box, I haven’t got a clue what I’ve done wrong.

Explained: Harrogate's homeless problem