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Homelessness secretary asked to help migrant rough sleepers denied government support during Redbridge visit

PUBLISHED: 15:07 08 November 2018

(L-R) Council leader Jas Athwal, Heather Wheeler MP and Ilford Salvation Army Capt John Clifton. Photo: Salvation Army

(L-R) Council leader Jas Athwal, Heather Wheeler MP and Ilford Salvation Army Capt John Clifton. Photo: Salvation Army

Archant

Housing and homelessness undersecretary Heather Wheeler was asked to take action to help rough sleepers who cannot access government support due to their immigration status during her visit to the borough yesterday, November 7.

A roundtable discussion held at Redbridge Town Hall, in High Road, saw Ms Wheeler MP meet with councillors and a number of charities who collectively received £485k in June through the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative.

Among the attendees was Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, Cllr Farah Hussain, Ilford Salvation Army Captain John Clifton and representatives from charities The Welcome Centre, Ramfel and Single Homeless Project.

Speaking after the meeting, Capt Clifton said: “Hopefully the minister will hear what we have said and positive steps will be taken towards helping people with ‘no recourse to public funds (NRPF).’”

People classed as NRPF cannot access support directly from the government or local authority, such as housing benefit or universal credit, due to their immigration status.

Instead they are reliant on the support of charities.

As the Recorder reported on Monday, 10 people have died homeless since October last year – eight of them classed as having “no recourse to public funds”.

A disproportionate number of those who died are from India and are unable to return home as their documentation has been destroyed and the process to replace it is often bureacratic and complex, charities have said.

The minister was asked to help build a relationship with the Indian High Commission to address this, Capt Clifton added.

Cllr Jas Athwal said: “Our Labour administration was elected on a platform that we shouldn’t just be seeking to address street homelessness, but to end it – and I have an ambition to wipe out rough sleeping in Redbridge.”

“I want to thank our local voluntary sector groups in Redbridge for their efforts in helping us lead the way, and stepping up to the challenge of ending homelessness, particularly for those with NRPF.”

Following a roundtable discussion, Ms Wheeler visited the site earmarked for pioneering pop-up hostel Project Malachi in Chadwick Road.

Taking to Twitter after the meeting Ms Wheeler said: “[It is] great to see partnership working in Redbridge to deliver Rough Sleeping Initiative.”

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Redbridge Together

Redbridge Together aims to raise £500,000 for two projects at the heart of helping the homeless in the borough.

Two thirds of all money raised will go towards the creation of pioneering pop-up hostel Project Malachi and one third to The Welcome Centre day centre for the homeless.

Project Malachiaims to create a temporary hostel for rough sleepers and homeless people using recycled shipping containers on the site of a crumbling former funeral directors in Chadwick Road to rebuild their lives.

The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, offers wide ranging services from laundry to counselling.

You can support by donating money, raising funds, displaying Redbridge Together promotional material in businesses or offering work placements.

Redbridge Together is an association an association between Ilford Salvation Army, The Welcome Centre, Ilford BID, the Ilford Recorder and Redbridge Council.

To get involved email: aaron.walawalkar@archant.co.uk

Donate £3 by texting LIFE to 70145 or at Crowdfunder.co.uk/RedbridgeTogether

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