Drive to help Redbridge homeless

A DRIVE to help homeless people off the streets has been launched by police, charity and council workers.

Teams set up a marquee outside Sainsbury’s supermarket, Roden Street, Ilford, this afternoon to provide information and advice to rough sleepers, as well as demonstrations of the work already being done to help people on the streets.

Last night, dozens of volunteers gathered at the Cardinal Heenan Centre, High Road, Ilford, before setting off to seek out homeless sleepers.

They invited them back to the centre where they were offered food and drinks, as well as advice on how to get housing or other services.

The patrol was part of Operation Reach - a drive launched after London Mayor Boris Johnson vowed to clear the capital’s streets of rough sleepers in time for 2012 Olympics.

Insp Dave Brewster, who led the police side of the operation, said he was impressed by the turn-out of volunteers.

He said: “It’s quite a big thing to try and achieve. We’re trying to get people off the streets and break the cycle so that they can get their lives back on track.

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“The police are committed to working with other agencies in order to achieve this.”

Around six people made use of the centre on the night and the operation will be repeated on Thursday.

Anyone spotted was also referred The Welcome Project, Ilford Lane, Ilford, which opens during the daytime to offer a laundry service, food and showers.

See tomorrow’s Recorder for an exclusive interview with one of the borough’s rough sleepers and a two page feature on the issue of homelessness.