Search

Face-to-face with the reality of lives of the homeless in Ilford

07:00 26 June 2014

Redbridge Outreach Service senior practitioner Toni Brennan with Trevor Holloway who has been living on the streets for four years.

Redbridge Outreach Service senior practitioner Toni Brennan with Trevor Holloway who has been living on the streets for four years.

Archant

A man’s eyes filled with tears as he told an outreach worker “I need a home” on Monday. He was sitting on a bench in High Road, Ilford, with four others, one of whom said he had been on the streets for 14 years.

PC Arif Mahmood, PC Martin Bly, PCSO Pauline Griffith, senior practitioner Toni Brennan and outreach volunteer Charlotte Walker.PC Arif Mahmood, PC Martin Bly, PCSO Pauline Griffith, senior practitioner Toni Brennan and outreach volunteer Charlotte Walker.

Redbridge Outreach Service, Ilford Police and the Refugee and Migrant Forum have teamed up to tackle street drinking.

The Recorder accompanied them on Operation Outreach as they walked through the town to offer support to those living on the streets.

Street drinking is on the rise in Ilford. Police have reported an increase in complaints and the outreach service, established to tackle substance misuse, now deals with 10 cases of alcohol abuse for each drug user.

Four homeless men sat on a bench in High Road were the first we came upon, less than a minute into our search.

One man told outreach workers he was hungry and that he needed a home.

Jessica Hardwick, Redbridge Outreach Service manager, said that street drinking is becoming more visible but that tackling the problem is not simple.

She said: “Street drinkers are not just street drinkers, there are other problems.

“Today is about intelligence building. We need to know more about these street drinkers, why they do not engage and how we can get them to engage in support?”

As we walked through the town centre, outreach workers and police came upon a familiar face.

Trevor Holloway has been living on the streets for about four years and painted a bleak picture of his life.

He said: “Living on the street is not good. Cold. Obnoxious. I’ve met people that want to beat people up. You stink, you have no clean clothes.”

Redbridge Outreach Support has worked with Trevor. “They’re good because they try to help you,” he said.

The reality of life on the street had been explained to us before we had left Ilford police station.

Chief Insp John Fish showed us a picture taken over the weekend of the victim of an assault. The face of the man, who is known to be homeless, was covered in dried blood.

Mr Fish told those gathered: “That photo alone showed me why we need to do something.

“These are the most vulnerable people we are likely to come across.”

There were more people requiring support that we found in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in High Road where many of Ilford’s homeless come to sleep.

A tent was strung up behind a tree creating a crude shelter while a blanket, shoes and an empty container of shower gel were strewn across the grass.

As we arrived, two men were taking a nap in the centre of the graveyard – both gave their details to outreach workers who will try to help them.

Back in the town centre a man was begging in an alleyway. He told outreach workers of a myriad of problems he needed help with, including alcohol abuse.

Operation Outreach was the brainchild of Pc Arif Mahmood.

He said the aim of the operation was to offer support to some of the most vulnerable people in society, something the police do not have the power to do alone.

Latest News Stories

16:25
Labour leader Ed Miliband and Wes Streeting MP are quizzed by Recorder reporter Laura Burnip at Nesse's Cafe.

Labour leader Ed Miliband rolled into Ilford North this morning on the first stop of the party’s campaign – just hours after he was grilled by Jeremy Paxman on live television.

15:39
Ashley Commerce College, in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, pictured on the right

The “shocking” findings of an undercover sting into a college selling fraudulent security qualifications are being investigated.

11:05
Prime Minister David Cameron is interviewed by Jeremy Paxman (right) on the Sky News/Channel 4 programme: Cameron & Miliband Live: The Battle for Number 10, at the Sky Studios in Osterley, west London.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband were grilled by Jeremy Paxman and a studio audience last night in the first of the general election television set pieces.

09:36
Volunteers packed up the donated food at the Gardens of Peace Cemetery in Hainault

(from Right to left)Farouk Ismail Chairman of Formo Rebridge Muslims, Bashir Patel Ilford Muslim Society Balfour Road Mosque, and Mohammed Azam Ilford Islamic Centre Albert Road Mosque

A leading Muslim organisation’s chairman says the challenges his community faces are “enormous” – but insists patience is key if faith relations are to be maintained.

Most read news

But what do other parties do with their 404 pages? This you’ll want to see.

The Labour leader could soon be in a town near you.

The fire was apparently started by a gas explosion and left 19 people injured, four critically. Two people remain unaccounted for.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Ilford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder