A charity worker whose determination to help the poor has changed lives over many years has stepped down.
Thousands of homeless people have visited the Community Awareness Programme (CAP) for help with food parcels, household goods and housing advice during Ernest Hibbert’s time with the charity.
Mr Hibbert set up the project with his wife Elisabeth in the 1990s, and has been project manager since it moved to its Wood Street office in 2004.
Mr Hibbert, who stepped down this week but will remain on the board of CAP, said there was a greater need than every for support offered by the charity.
He said: “It is far worse than it was when CAP was set up, and it is getting worse year by year.
“We are seeing a frightening number of middle aged men coming in, who are husbands who have moved out so their wives and families can have more benefits.
“We are averaging more than 20 new people a month that we have not seen before.”
Mr Hibbert, 66, said he would continue to help boost the profile of CAP and secure funding for the organisation.
He said: “I have still got an awful lot of vision in terms of where I want to go.
“I think in all of my years at work these have been the most rewarding. There have been highs and lows. We have attended funerals of our clients but we have also had the joy of seeing lives completely changed.
“We have volunteer staff who were drug addicts and alcoholics who are now working completely free from addiction.
“Heading it all up has been an amazing privilege.”
Mr Hibbert said he wanted to expand the role of CAP in helping the city’s most vulnerable.
He added: “We want to do more but we need a more suitable building and it needs to be in the city centre.”
Kevin Dobson, who took over as project manager of CAP this week, said: “My first day was a very humbling day.
“We had 55 people through the door and every one of them was needing help. You can’t deny that there is a problem.”