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The winter night shelter at the Salvation Army opened this week with 200 volunteers and numerous faith organisations answering their plea for support.

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The shelter, in Clements Road, Ilford opened its doors yesterday and will offer a place to sleep and an evening meal to 25 people each night until March.

Organisers say this year they are working with numerous other agencies to ensure that as many people as possible are helped into permanent homes.

John Clifton, 27, corps officer, said: “The people of Redbridge are really amazing. The community has really come together. I’m very optimistic that night shelter will be able to help a lot of people.”

The volunteers will help cook and ensure the shelter runs smoothly with some working numerous evenings each week.

“Every year it’s amazing how much time people are willing to give up for others. They are such compassionate people,” Mr Clifton said. “We are ready for the winter and all the volunteers have been trained.”

Building on the success of last year’s winter shelter, the Salvation Army team are working with other organisations to ensure that as many people as possible stay off the streets.

They plan to have weekly meetings with migrant forum Ramfel, rough sleeper service the Welcome Centre and the council’s housing service to ensure work is done efficiently.

“We want to help people move on from the night shelter into stable accommodation,” he said. “It will make a big difference.”

Mr Clifton said that from the people who have already used the night shelter, he is optimistic that they will be able to help a number of them into a more settled situation.

“It will be a stable base for people to move on from and get back to life as it should be.”

“People like you and me would need help if we were in the same situation. These people need help at the moment.”

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