[Source: Northampton Chronicle & Echo Published: Tuesday, 26 January, 1999]
Group is camping out in notorious red-light districts.
Four members of the Jesus Army are giving up their home comforts three or four nights a week to provide help to Northampton’s growing population of prostitutes.
The group, led by Ed and Judith Hunt from Bugbrooke, camp out in the most notorious red light areas of the town around Quorn Way and Grafton Street and spend their evenings providing the prostitutes with hot drinks and friendly advice.
Mr Hunt, who engineered the idea, said: “The four of us take our minibus to the busiest areas of the town and we offer them hot drinks and friendship.
“Many of them are ordinary people who have normal jobs during the day and have young families to support, but have found they can supplement their income by walking the streets.
“All the girls we have met have been grateful for our company and we have been made very welcome.
“I think they like to feel secure in the knowledge that someone else is around.
“We just like to try to help people. A friend of mine in Coventry, who is also in the Jesus Army, has been doing a similar sort of thing and he said how successful it was, so I decided to try it here.
“We intend to continue it indefinitely — as long as it continues to help people we see no reason to stop.”
But the move was criticised by MP for the area Tony Clarke, who said: “I do not think that working girls in the red light district would necessarily see themselves as a disadvantaged group in need of sustenance.
“Therefore you would have to ask yourself whether or not the presence of the Jesus Army is intended more to meet their own need to press their viewpoint rather than for any traditional Samaritan philosophy.”
Mr Hunt said the Jesus Army was not supporting prostitution through its actions, and offered help to try to get the women away from prostitution.
He said: “We offer friendship, advice and help to get them out of the scene. A lot of them want to stop and we just like to try to help them.”