LINDA COLLING: Sir Peter’s vision lights the way

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THE Government’s plan to spend millions of pounds a in the vain hope of turning the lives of 120,000 “problem” families is doomed to failure.

There is no doubt these families need help but there’s no way that targetting people like this will make a hap’orth of difference.

It doesn’t stand a chance and the £2million that will be pumped into up to 805 Sunderland households with truanting kids, young criminals, drunken and druggie parents who have never worked, will be money down the drain.

Nor do we know how they propose to miraculously “turn their lives around once and for all”, as Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary believes.

Dream on. Enter Wearside car firm millionaire, Sir Peter Vardy, who is ploughing his cash into helping struggling families, using an army of church volunteers to help find homes for children to stay at while “family mentors” tackle addiction and unemployment.

“It’s one of the biggest things I will ever do,” says committed Christian, Sir Peter, whose Durham-based Jigsaw Foundation is an initative based on the success story he saw in Chicago, which now has an army of volunteer families helping thousands of other families.

It’s reputed to have saved Chicago social services £18million last year and only four per cent of the children ended up in care. The model is so successful that it has been rolled out to 14 other States in the US.

It’s to be trialled here in Sunderland by the end of the year, and it’s to be hoped target the lives of thousands of deprived families in Middlesbrough and Manchester too.

At the heart of this scheme is the Christian principle of love, reaching out to the poor, the hungry and the homeless.

There are no financial rewards for the volunteers involved, unlike the Government’s scheme, which will pay councils up to £4,000 for each household whose lives they turn around.

Sir Peter’s vision is not aimed at those families in Pickles’ plan but helping ones before they join that group.

By helping them out at an early stage, taking the children to a safe and warm environment to give their mam and dad a breathing space and the chance to sort their problems out, working with paid professionals, sounds great.

I bet the kids would think they were on a holiday and they would have contact all the time with their parents. It’s unique and the great thing about it is it works.

The hope now is to get volunteers from Christian churches who would be willing to take children into their home for a short while.

Sir Peter’s plan has a proven track record as opposed to Pickle’s pie-in-the sky one.

At least Sir Peter is putting his money where his mouth is, not using someone else’s. That’s how passionate he is about what he intends to roll out nationally.

It’s inspirational and spot on with what our own Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby wants to see the Church standing up for – the world’s poor at home and in the wider world.

And Sir Peter is also spot on with: “For too long the churches have argued about women bishops and all these other issues, well this gets us back to what we were called to do, to look after the poor, feed the hungry, give a home to the homeless.”

What a blessing if Sir Peter pulls this off in the name of love with intervention preventing more from going clean off the rails.

What a state, this city...

I WASN’T the only one who left with my heart in my boots after the State of the City event in Silksworth this week.

Our council leader Paul Watson and his cohorts talking up the city. We would have thought more of them if they had held their hands up when challenged and acknowledged the dire straits of much of our city centre and how much is wanting at our beautiful twin resorts.

Micky’s hair-brained scheme

HOW vain can you be? It looked absolutely disgusting, the seven hour-plus scalping procedure, ex-Sunderland footballer Micky Gray subjected himself to for a new head of hair.

To go to such lengths shows what high a price the 37-year-old puts on the way he looks. And given it was gruesome to watch, what does it say about the 22,000 people who tuned in to to see the transplant streamed live on the internet? Sad they’ve got nothing better to do with their time than view Micky making a name for himself as the first person in the UK to be filmed having thousands of needles injected and pieces of scalp transplanted.

Vanity lovers like to keep their good looks a secret.

 So what was the incentive for Micky?

The Axe – The Colling hitlist

LET the axe fall on David Cameron’s plan to allow gay marriage in the Church of England.

Christian marriage should remain between a man and a woman