Redbridge Faith Forum had this topic at its first network meeting two years ago and was keen for its members and supporters to be updated on recent developments.
Speakers were therefore invited from SHP Housing, The Welcome Centre, Salvation Army and the local authority to update us on the services currently provided in Redbridge and future plans.
Phil Butcher, RFF Co-chair welcomed the audience of 68 to the event.
It was very encouraging to hear from Mel and Sheyra of the work of the SHP street outreach teams and the audience was encouraged to assist by eporting sightings of rough sleepers to Streetlink which is a national service in England & Wales. This can be done by downloading the app to a smart phone or by going to their website https://www.streetlink.org.uk/ or telephoning 0300 500 0914. These will then be followed up by the outreach street teams.
Phil then gave a welcome update on the services and activities provided from The Welcome Centre, Healthy Living Projects and it was good to hear of the generous support given by local businesses, faith communities and schools as well as the many volunteers giving their time. A recent development had been a partnership with Barka UK (http://www.barkauk.org/) which provides a reconnection project for Eastern European newcomers to the UK to assist them with travel arrangements to return to their home countries if they so wish but have no means to do so.
Further encouraging news was given by Dave and Cedric from the Salvation Army with special mention of Project Malachi a “pop-up hostel” to be sited at 1a Chadwick Road in Ilford which was the very site where the Salvation Army first met in Ilford in 1886. This has a 5 year lease and will provide 42 accommodation units plus space for recycle workshops, laundry, offices and meeting rooms. The Project is led by an interfaith committee of senior faith. Fundraising is ongoing for the project and donations are welcome.
The final speaker was Hitesh Tailor who explained that the council has published a draft Homelessness Strategy on its website with a survey which is open for consultation until 22nd February this is the link to complete it
A “Questions from the floor” session followed with all the speakers involved a variety of questions answered.
Everyone had agreed that this had been a very informative and encouraging meeting and realised that a lot of support is going on “behind the scenes” with the ultimate aim of preventing rough sleeping in Redbridge.