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Former councillor eats with the homeless
WHEN she sat on Oxfordshire County Council, Olive McIntosh-Stedman never thought she would end up sitting next to homeless people claiming a free lunch.
But, following a stroke three years ago, Lady McIntosh-Stedman, who lives alone in Rose Hill, finds cooking healthy food for herself increasingly difficult.
Now the former Labour councillor sits with the homeless, jobless and disabled to get a free lunch from Oxford’s “mother of the homeless” Ma Smith.
On Wednesday she joined them at Ma Smith’s annual festive banquet at the Asian Cultural Centre on Manzil Way.
Lady McIntosh-Stedman, 71, who uses a walking stick, said: “This food is keeping me alive. I am disabled but I am improving thanks to Ma’s cooking.
“I come here to eat properly but I help clear up afterwards.”
She added: “Don’t be afraid to come just because there are poor people. We are all God’s children.”
Originally from Jamaica, Lady McIntosh-Stedman moved to London when she was 13.
She worked as a nurse in Oxfordshire hospitals and care homes for her entire career, much of it at the Old Vicarage care home in Wallingford.
She sat on Oxfordshire County Council for Cowley and Littlemore for 13 years from 1997.
In 2009, she added the title Lady Kincavel – a Scottish Lady – in front of her name after applying for a certificate of authenticity online for £26.75.
She retired from work 10 years ago, but only stepped down as a councillor after her stroke in 2010.
In 2007, she was found guilty of benefit fraud after failing to declare the NHS nurse’s pension she received and was suspended from the Labour Party.
She said: “I have fallen on hard times.
“My husband left me and three girls are expensive to bring up. I paid off my mortgage in August but I wasn’t eating properly.”
She also takes tablets to thin her blood.
Andrew Smith, director of homeless drop-in centre The Gatehouse in St Giles, said: “Homelessness and poverty are no respecters of persons or rank, and this emphasises how easy it could be for anyone to find ourselves in that position.”
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