A STUDENT at Herefordshire College of Art and Design, Lisa Harrison, was shocked to see the number of people homeless or under threat of such a fate in Herefordshire.

The former Bishop of Hereford Bluecoat School pupil, who lives at Bartestree, visited Hereford Open Door and here is her account:

''If you walked into Hinton Youth Centre between 10am and noon on a Tuesday, Friday or Sunday morning, you would see elderly volunteers trying to cook, wait on tables and serve people breakfast all at the same time.

''These are the people working for Hereford Open Door, the only voluntarily run organisation in the county aiming to help homeless and poverty-stricken people.

''The number of people benefiting from this help (known as 'guests') once reached the sizeable figure of 61. This makes it hard to believe that all this started from a Christmas shelter in 1996, where only three people turned up!

''Mrs Kath Card, chairman of the managing committee, explained that in 1997 doors were opened at the Quaker Friends Meeting House in the city centre, providing full breakfasts free of charge. By the summer of 1999, this support had been extended to three times a week and had moved to Hinton Youth Centre.

''Funding of £8,000 a year comes from local churches and businesses. Hinton Youth Centre is offered rent free by Herefordshire Council. Some businesses give free supplies: Left Bank Bakery donates free bread.

''The special bond that volunteers have with guests is obviously very important. The trust shown strikes you the most.''

Lisa added: ''Many other things came to light for me about the issue of homelessness in Herefordshire.

''It seems there is a genuine lack of awareness about homelessness and surrounding issues. With Hereford Open Door's need for further funding, is Herefordshire really helping at all?

''One thing for sure is that Open Door is making a huge and positive difference to many under-privileged people and looks like it will have to do so for a long time.''