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‘I just want a normal life’: 27-year-old shares story of sleeping rough in Ilford

PUBLISHED: 15:20 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 09 January 2019

Rough sleeper Aimad Jerdioui at the Welcome Centre with staff Shade Aderibigbe and Ursula Standen

Rough sleeper Aimad Jerdioui at the Welcome Centre with staff Shade Aderibigbe and Ursula Standen

Archant

“For most of my life I’ve been around rubbish people. People you can’t really trust.”

That was the harsh reality that faced Aimad – who slept rough in Ilford on and off over the past two years – until he came to charity The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road.

“Since I have come here, it’s different,” said the 27-year-old.

“Without the Welcome Centre, I don’t know where I would be.”

Aimad began sleeping rough in Ilford in 2016 after his shifts as a labourer in a Stratford building site began to dry up.

Rough sleeper Aimad Jerdioui at the Welcome CentreRough sleeper Aimad Jerdioui at the Welcome Centre

He had been staying in various cheap hotels – short of cash for a deposit on a rented flat.

“It was my brother I fell out with in the first place,” Aimad told the Recorder, explaining why he could not return to his family home.

“I’d never go back there. So, I’d rather live on the street. Unless he goes.”

Things got worse when he got into a fight outside a pub and was jailed for eight months in 2017.

Rough sleeper Aimad Jerdioui at the Welcome CentreRough sleeper Aimad Jerdioui at the Welcome Centre

After serving four months in prison, and unable to repair relationships with his family, he was back sleeping on the streets.

Aimad is now working to turn his life around.

“I’d like to pay my own way out,” he said.

“If I had a magic wand I would just like to make sure that I got a job, and got a little flat.”

He added: “I just want a normal life.”

Since last week, Aimad has begun staying in temporary accommodation run by charity Single Homeless Project, which he received with the help of the Welcome Centre.

The charity has also helped pay for Aimad to get a passport and provides him with warm meals and showers.

Other services offered include advice and support, training and employment and a nurse-led clinic supporting health and mental health.

By donating to crowdfunder Redbridge Together, you can help ensure The Welcome Centre has the resources it needs to help others off the streets.

Businesses can support by donating money, raising funds, displaying Redbridge Together promotional material or offering work placements. 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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