By Andrew M. Collins
We spoke to one of South Portslade’s UKIP candidates, Jamie Gillespie, about his politics, the homeless problem in Brighton and Hove and his volunteer work in a local soup kitchen. Gillespie, 42, a Personal Trainer and Kickboxing instructor, is a first time political council candidate. He grew up in Brighton and Hove and continues to live here, splitting his time between Hove and Portslade.
His interest in politics only started recently: “I haven’t voted for many years, and recently I’ve been so disenchanted with the current three party circus – the Labour Party, Conservatives, Lib Dems – making promises and lying and letting down the nation.
“I’d just had enough so I registered to vote a couple of years ago, then I started to take an interest in UKIP and following their progress and what they stood for. At the beginning of last year, about March, I went to a meeting and decided to get involved a make a stand.”
One of the main things that piqued his interest in politics and moved him to take action is the food bank issue. “Recently, things have got so bad for people in the lower echelons of society that many are struggling. I see families with not one but two paid jobs, with young children, having to use food banks and that’s completely unacceptable.
“‘The cost of food has gone up, through the roof. It’s just not on. People shouldn’t go hungry – we’re in a first world country, we’re in a prosperous nation. We’re in a supposedly wealthy town and people are having to use food banks.”
Jamie calls the homeless problem here ‘frightening’ – He claims Labour’s figure of 150 as misleading saying “that’s how detached their party have become.”
He also criticises the Conservatives’ plan to sell off housing stock. “The Tories are proposing to sell off all the social housing, including that owned by housing trusts and housing associations to raise funds. The thing is, that might be a good idea if they were going to build new homes from the money, but like the council houses many years before, when they were sold off previously, they just took the money and put it in the Treasury. They didn’t rebuild houses.”
He plans to work with the Salvation Army who already run a soup kitchen in Hove to help the homeless and get donations from supermarkets.
“If I get a seat on Brighton and Hove City Council, I will try to to push forward a food bank and cafe and use products donated by the Supermarkets, via a company called Fare Share. I would like to have a volunteer force, preferably with cars, and perhaps get local businesses to volunteer one of their properties – a shop to set things up.
“I think I will try to do something on these lines even if I don’t win a council seat.
I Believe we must address how we’d approach the homeless situation. What the chap at the Salvation Army was suggesting was they’d need a months’ rent in advance and a months’ deposit in advance and it’s quite a big sum for them to do. I am working with the Salvation Army and other organisations to try to put this food bank and food cafe in place. We’re going to look at providing more food banks as well. At a national level UKIP recognises that there is a major problem with the numbers of homeless persons in many of our larger cities and that the number of families having to use food banks is a national scandal. If elected, I promise to be pro-active in trying to help the homeless and hungry in Brighton and Hove.”
He is clearly very passionate about this subject and has thrown his full weight behind the project. It’s a sad reflection of the current state of affairs that food banks are actually needed in the UK and the results on May 7th will certainly have an important bearing on the plight of the homeless and poor in the this City.
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Jamie can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org