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Wanstead charity worker tells of moment he found rough sleeping dad from India dying in Ilford

PUBLISHED: 13:50 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:37 09 November 2018

Sodhi Singh passed away on November 3, 2018, the Ilford Salvation Army has confirmed. Photo: Anja King

Sodhi Singh passed away on November 3, 2018, the Ilford Salvation Army has confirmed. Photo: Anja King

Archant

Frank Charles has been handing out breakfast to rough sleepers in the car park of Redbridge Council’s Lynton House building every Friday for more than a year.

Frank Charles gives out teas coffee and Frank Charles gives out teas coffee and "breakfast bags" at the Stratford Centre and in Ilford every Friday. Photo: Feed the Streetz

But last Friday (November 2), he knew something was very wrong.

“Normally there are two or three mattresses – but this time there were one,” said the Wanstead resident.

“This time, there was a person just lying on the concrete with a blanket covering him.”

That man was Sodhi Singh, 50, who died the following morning at King George Hospital, in Goodmayes.

“His hands and his fingers looked like they were starting to go black,” he said.

“I am really concerned about this gentleman,” Frank told an enforcement officer in the car park, asking him to call for an ambulance.

Staying to assist paramedics in placing Sodhi into an ambulance, Frank overheard that his temperature had fallen to only 23 degrees celsius.

On November 3, Frank received a call from The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, to say that Sodhi had passed away.

“I cried instantly,” he told the Recorder.

“I only knew him for just a year-and-a-half, giving food to him.

“He was always polite and jolly.

“Somebody yet again has died out on the streets.”

Homelessness is an issue close to Frank’s heart.

After being kicked out of home at 17 he spent five days sleeping rough in Abbotts Park, Leyton, before moving into a hostel for two years.

Now 55, he has been running a project called Feed the Streetz where he delivers breakfast to rough sleepers in Ilford and Stratford every Friday morning.

He sets up a small stall from where he hands out tea and coffee and “breakfast bags” containing donations from Greggs bakery.

Frank credits his own success in overcoming homelessness to inspirational youth and social workers.

Sharing a more positive memory, he told the Recorder of how he bumped into a familiar face when walking through Ilford High Road last month.

The man, who he had not seen since January, told him: “I was homeless and I remember you gave me some food and told me about your story and it inspired me.”

“He said he managed to get himself a full-time job and a place to stay,” Frank added.

Find out more about Frank’s charity at facebook.com/FeedStreetz/

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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, helps with providing hot meals, showers, clothing, laundry but also advice and support, training and employment and a nurse led clinic supporting health and mental health.

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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