Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, visited St Chad’s Sanctuary in Birmingham on February 4, writes Andrew M Brown.
St Chad’s Sanctuary is a successful partnership between St Chad’s Cathedral and the Salvation Army West Midlands Division to care for asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants.
The Secretary of State was welcomed by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, cathedral Dean Canon Gerry Breen, and Major Samuel Edgar, divisional commander of the Salvation Army, West Midlands Division.
During his hour-long visit Mr Duncan Smith, leader of the Conservative Party from September 2001 to November 2003, was shown round by Sister Margaret Walsh, an Infant Jesus Sister, manager of the St Chad’s Sanctuary, situated near the Refugee Council in the heart of Birmingham.
The relaxed Cabinet Minister, himself a Catholic, chatted informally to staff and volunteers and willingly posed with various groups for photographs.
Mr Duncan Smith set up the Centre for Social Justice, an independent political think tank that works with small charities in finding and supporting new and innovative grass-roots approaches to tackling poverty.
Prior to his political career Mr Duncan Smith, who was born in Edinburgh, served as a British Army officer in the Scots Guards from 1975 to 1981.
He served in Northern Ireland and Rhodesia.
St Chad’s Sanctuary is situated next to the Salvation Army’s William Booth Centre opposite Archbishop’s House in Shadwell Street, behind the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham.
The sanctuary is open Monday to Friday offering a warm welcome to those in need of help and advice.
Mr Duncan Smith established the Centre for Social Justice in 2004.