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Ilford ‘lifeline’ for vulnerable unemployed has glimmer of funding hope

PUBLISHED: 15:20 31 January 2013 | UPDATED: 15:21 31 January 2013

Director Moinul Khalique (right)

Director Moinul Khalique (right)

Archant

A voluntary group which helps vulnerable people referred from Jobcentres is edging closer to the government funding which may prevent it from winding up.

Case study - Wendy

A 43-year-old Barkingside woman who suffers from anxiety and depression said that Re-Start had been her “lifeline”.

Wendy, who did not want to give her full name and who has a borderline personality disorder, was referred to the Ilford voluntary group.

She had just finished therapy as an outpatient at Goodmayes Hospital in Barley Lane and has since gone on to help others find work.

She said: “I was scared and alone.

“Moinul [Khalique] said one of the best ways to get back into work was doing voluntary work and he offered me a place with them. He gave me an opportunity to show what skills I have in a safe environment.”

Wendy, who still has periods when she is not well, said: “For me it’s been a lifeline, I know when I’m better I can go back to work for him again.”

Re-Start in Riches Road, Ilford, takes people with depression, mental health issues and substance abuse problems from the Jobcentre Plus office in High Road, Seven Kings, and neighbouring boroughs.

It provides them with counselling with a view to helping them back into work.

But the shoestring operation does not receive any funding from the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) as it is not recognised as a Work Programme provider.

Now, after being forced to take on a £14,400 rent last year, executive director Moinul Khalique said: “To be honest, this year is make or break.”

Despite the group helping around 10 vulnerable people each week, Mr Khalique had to send a letter to local Jobcentre staff begging for help.

But on Thursday, he met with a member of the East London Jobcentre Plus team which has given him hope for the future.

He said: “She’s going to give us all the assistance she can to look for some funding, that will be very helpful.

“I was inspired by what she had to say but the coming months are going to be difficult.

“Unless something happens, it’s really getting very difficult.”

Re-Start’s only sources of funding are voluntary donations and payments from universities as it provides student placements.

But the group’s director fears they could come to an end following a shake-up of university placement provision in the autumn. The group, of around 10 volunteers and 13 trainee social workers at any one time, also runs a 24-hour telephone hotline for people in crisis.

It had to move from Mr Khalique’s own Hainault home to private offices last year after being served with an enforcement notice by Redbridge Council.

A DWP spokesman said: “Jobcentre Plus works closely with charities and voluntary organisations to give tailored support to help people back to work.”


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