Ilford Salvation Army issues night shelter appeal
PUBLISHED: 06:59 04 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:34 04 October 2016
In “darkest Ilford”, a crowd of passionate volunteers met last Thursday night to launch a report on homelessness in Redbridge.
At the Rough Sleeping campaign night organised by Ilford Salvation Army, charity executives, volunteers, and residents met to discuss practical solutions to help homeless people find a roof over their heads.
The campaign “In Darkest Ilford” was named after Salvation Army’s founder William Booth’s scheme to lift people out of poverty in 1890, which he called “In Darkest England and the Way Out.”
On the night, Ilford South MP Mike Gapes praised the “amazing” work that the shelter, run by Naomi and John Clifton, undertakes.
He said: “The important work that the Salvation Army are carrying out, year on year is essential.
“Homelessness is a national crisis and something that needs involvement from the government, local authorities and others, in order to be properly tackled.
“When I was a young boy, I didn’t see people who had been sleeping rough out on the street, whilst now, you often see desperate people two or three times a day.
“The volunteers here know that they are making a difference, and sometimes people get their life turned around as a result of their hard work.”
The night saw the release of the Redbridge Cold Weather Centre report, which ahead of the night shelter in Clements Road, Ilford, reopening in December, shows how many homeless people in the borough used the centre last year.
More than 50 guests stayed at the shelter, and 4,869 hours were spent volunteering.
The shelter, which will open its doors from December 8 to March 10, offers residents meals, activities and a warm, safe place to sleep.
Ahead of its opening, Captain Naomi Clifton encouraged residents to sign up to volunteer at the shelter.
She said: “We need a big team of volunteers, and everyone has different skills they can offer.
“It’s not just the lives of our guests that change, I have learnt so much about myself and others on this journey.”
Lieutenant John Clifton stressed that the charity is keen to work with Redbridge Council and the police, in order to tackle homelessness on the street.
He said: “We are asking the council to pass the new Redbridge rough sleeping protocol as soon as possible.”
The protocol, which Ilford Salvation Army have been working on with charity Refugee & Migrant Forum of Essex and London, would see the council and police working proactively with charities, before any enforcement action takes place.
It is now being sponsored by Redbridge councillors, Cllr Keith Prince and Cllr Robert Littlewood, and should go before the council for approval in the next month.
On the night, volunteers recorded a video urging councillors to approve the protocol as soon as possible.
If you are interested in volunteering at the night shelter this year, click here or phone 0208 478 2961 for more information.
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