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Government strategy must go further to tackle rough sleeping in Redbridge, council and charity warn

PUBLISHED: 17:37 14 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:37 14 August 2018

Mattresses and sofas line the pavement in Havelock Street, Ilford. Photo: Aaron Walawalkar

Mattresses and sofas line the pavement in Havelock Street, Ilford. Photo: Aaron Walawalkar

Archant

More must be done to eradicate rough sleeping in addition to the government’s new £100m plan to end the problem by 2027, the council and Salvation Army have warned.

The government outlined its new Rough Sleeping Strategy yesterday (August 13) vowing to “make [rough sleeping] a thing of the past”, according to Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.

But it later emerged that half of the promised £100m had already been committed to homelessness and rough sleeping, with the rest “reprioritised” from existing budgets with his department.

The council has highlighted that the government plans will not help rough sleepers who cannot access benefits such as council housing due to their immigration status.

These people are referred to as having “no recourse to public funds” (NRPF) and they make up the majority of the borough’s 67 rough sleepers, according to official statistics released earlier this year.

“Many of those on our streets in Redbridge are unable to be helped by our services because of these inflexible rules,” said council leader Jas Athwal.

Supporting these people presents a “long-term funding issue” for the council which is not addressed by the Rough Sleeper Strategy, according to a council spokeswoman.

She added that this issue leads to “all sorts of other expenditure across the council, such as cleansing and enforcement, and impacts on the local community as well as the rough sleepers”.

The Ilford Salvation Army (SA), in Clements Road, is among the charities helping rough sleepers in the borough.

“While the funding is welcome, charities are still catching those who fall through the gaps,” said John Clifton, Ilford SA’s captain.

“Given the number of rough sleeping deaths in the last year, we need to treat this as a public health issue and push resources into saving lives.”

He hopes that the council will continue to big aggressively for more government funding to address rough sleeping.

In June, Redbridge Council secured a £458,000 from government’s Rough Sleeper Initiative to funding more outreach work, to hire an Immigration Advisor and opening the winter shelter, among other areas.

Mr Clifton added: “More must be done to address root causes at a national policy level: genuinely affordable housing, jobs that pay a fair wage, and mental health provision.”

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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 Malachi aims 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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