Founder of Chichester homeless charity dies

Stonepillows 17 bed 24-hour hostel, St Joseph's
Stonepillows 17 bed 24-hour hostel, St Joseph's

The man who founded the Chichester-based homeless charity Stonepillow has died.

A statement from the charity this afternoon announced the death of its founder, Reverend Hilary Parsons.

Hilary founded the charity, formerly known as St Richard of Chichester Christian Care Association, in 1989 following the death of a young homeless man in Chichester.

READ MORE: Homelessness in Chichester on the rise, charity says
One the charity's trustees, Clare Apel, said: "Hilary was a wonderfully caring and spiritual man. He had great compassion and was very much loved by everyone who met him. He was greatly missed when he moved to The New Forest some years ago."

A spokesman for the charity said: "Hilary was one of two Deacons at St. Richard’s Catholic Church in Cawley Road and held a meeting to see how they could provide practical support to homeless people in the city.

"He decided a hostel was needed and the Carmelite nuns from the convent in Hunston (which is now the Chichester Free School) came to the rescue and gifted the charity the gardener’s cottage across the road which is known as St Joseph’s.

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"Today, St Joseph’s is home to Stonepillow’s 17 bed 24-hour hostel, and 2019 marks the charity’s 30th anniversary.

"Over the last three decades, they have expanded their services to support the growing number of people who find themselves on the streets. Stonepillow provides a range of services in Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton including day centres, hostels, a recovery service, supported housing and two charity shops.

"They also give people the opportunity to learn new skills and access education, training and employment.

"Stonepillow work with over 130 people every single day, empowering them to rebuild their lives and find independent accommodation they can call home. Without Hilary’s vision and determination, there would not be a charity working with homeless people in Chichester and Arun and we are hugely grateful to him."

The charity will be holding a community 'thank you' event in the city on Saturday September 7 to mark 30 years and to commemorate Hilary Parsons.