Homeless people in Redbridge celebrate after finding work thanks to Ilford training centre

Homeless people in the borough, who are forced to sleep rough because they have “no other choice”, have been helped back into work through a special skills programme.

Awards were handed out to clients at the Welcome Centre, Green Lane, Ilford last week by the cabinet member for housing, Cllr Michelle Dunn, to recognise their achievements.

The event was held in celebration of the progress they had made on the Projects Life Skills and Employment Training Programme (LSTEP).

Since April last year, twelve clients have found a job, including three who are now self-employed.

Manager Sonia Lynch, who has worked at the centre for six years, said: “We aim to provide meaningful activities for homeless people, including everything from interview and people skills to helping clients who have self-esteem or anger issues.

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“Anything that can help the individual move forward in their lives, we will try and do.”

The centre, which was demolished and reconstructed as part of improvements to support rough sleepers in Redbridge, was funded by the Places of Change programme, Centrepoint, the council and other partners.

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Mrs Lynch said: “Many of our clients go on to further training, particularly in construction and IT. I think the skills we offer are becoming ever more important, as you have to make your CV stand-out as there are hundreds of applicants for each job.”

One of the clients on the LSTEP, who did not want to be named, said: “I have been coming to the centre for two months, after moving to Ilford from Belgium. I found a job very quickly, which would have been very hard to do without the centre.

“I felt so relieved to get some help, after being forced to sleep in my car because I had no other choice.”

Mrs Lynch added: “It was fantastic to celebrate those who now have jobs, which has helped to motivate our current students.

“We want to give people hope. I see rough sleepers when I walk down the High Road, and many of them deteriorate and some pass away, but we want to encourage people to come to us.”

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