March 8 2014 Latest news:
by Francesca Elliott, Reporter
Thursday, December 5, 2013
A voluntary group that has helped more than 1,000 vulnerable people rebuild their lives is determined to remain positive and accessible to its users, despite financial difficulties.
Re-Start, in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, was founded in 2007 and provides one-to-one counselling to some 200 people a year who have been referred by the JobCentre or Redbridge Council.
The group helps disenfranchised and vulnerable people, such as former offenders and people with mental health, addiction or domestic violence problems, to become “job ready”, find work and move on with their lives.
It was founded by Moinul Khalique, a trained social worker, who says the work of his staff and volunteers saves the government thousands of pounds each year.
The not-for-profit group, which is seeking charitable status, is funded by universities which pay it to help train social workers.
But declining student numbers and rising rent have led to financial difficulties for the group which has to leave its Ilford premises next week, putting its future in jeopardy.
However, Mr Khalique and his staff remain optimistic following meetings with Dagenham charity DABD (Disablement Association of Barking & Dagenham).
The possibility of sharing office space has been discussed and the team are adamant that their good work will continue somewhere, as so many people need them.
“We’re social work-led and we do a lot of really great work on a shoestring budget,” said Mr Khalique.
“If we finish, this will have a knock-on effect for the people we support and the people we train. In the grand scheme of things, our running costs are relatively small – about £900 a month.
“It’s so annoying, as we make such a difference to some people’s lives.
“The cost of keeping someone in prison for a year is £40,000. Our work has helped stop lots of people reoffending and going back to prison, yet the council, JobCentre and government won’t help fund us.”
Last year, the group had to move from Hainault to Riches Road, Ilford, after failing to obtain retrospective planning permission from Redbridge Council.