New Year Honours 2019: Thanet church leader helps reduce homelessness

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Mike Andrea has helped reduce rough sleeping in ThanetImage source, Mike Andrea
Image caption,
Mike Andrea has helped reduce rough sleeping in Thanet

A church leader who established a homeless support programme to help reduce rough sleeping in Thanet has been recognised in the New Year Honours.

Mike Andrea, founder of the Global Generation Church in Margate, set up a project that helps homeless people find work and housing.

The 44-year-old received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to social empowerment in Kent.

He said he was "surprised and humbled".

Mr Andrea, from Ramsgate, also praised his colleagues and said: "I may have instigated things, but we have hundreds of volunteers that deal with the day-to-day work."

He established the Aspire Homeless Project that works in conjunction with Thanet District Council, Thanet Winter Shelter and the Salvation Army.

Mr Andrea said the project, which also operates a clothing bank that loans suits to homeless job applicants, aims to "get behind the story of why they ended up on the street".

In two years, the project helped 22 rough sleepers to find stable housing and 10 to find work.

The number of people sleeping rough in Thanet fell from 46 in 2017 to 23 in 2018, according to Thanet District Council.

In other Kent honours, James Idwal Davies, 76, was also recognised with a BEM for his work preserving the history of the county's mining industry.

Mr Davies, from Deal, was instrumental in the creation of the Kent Mining Museum, built on the site of county's last coal mine at Betteshanger Park.

Paul Barrett, 58, was appointed MBE for his fundraising work in Canterbury. He led the Marlowe Theatre Development Trust, which raised more than £4m to construct a new theatre for the city.

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