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Spiritual Life: Duty of all to help rough sleepers

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 June 2018

Archant/Catherine Davison

Just over five years ago, the Ilford Recorder ran a front page article with the headline “Police swoop on the homeless taking sleeping bags and food parcels in co-ordinated raids in Redbridge”.

Rita Chadha, formerly of Ramfel, and I went with one of the victims to the police station to ask for the sleeping bags to be returned.

After the national press picked up the story and we replaced the personal items from charitable resources, something positive did eventually come out of the incident. A formal arrangement was established – a rough sleeping protocol – in order to reduce the negative impact of enforcement activity.

This has since been put into practice for many years by council officers, but it had never gone through the formal political processes of the council. That was until last week when council Cabinet adopted the protocol.

I want to congratulate Cllr Jas Athwal on fulfilling the first of his commitments made at the Redbridge Citizens pre-election assembly.

Psalm 82:3 says to “uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed”. This long and quiet campaign is an example of how people in our borough are doing just that.

The truth is that everyone bore some responsibility for what happened at the time. It is not the job of the police to reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers, but the duty of the whole community to try to make it so that nobody has to sleep on the street.

To learn about how you can help the homeless in Redbridge, visit crowdfunder.co.uk/RedbridgeTogether

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