Ilford Salvation Army’s night shelter returns to help the homeless

Candice Steen, a volunteer at the night shelter last year, serving food to Carine Vunabandi. [Pictur

Candice Steen, a volunteer at the night shelter last year, serving food to Carine Vunabandi. [Picture: Anja King/The Savour Tribe] - Credit: Archant

Homeless people will not be left out in the cold this winter, thanks to the return of a charity initiative.

Ilford Salvation Army is once again opening its doors to those in need through its night shelter for 13 weeks from December 4.

The scheme has run since 2011.

John Clifton, who runs the charity branch with his wife Naomi, said he was inspired by an encounter with a homeless man which left him feeling “powerless”.

John, 28, said: “Shortly after we moved to the Ilford offices, somebody came to us asking for help with their housing situation.

“I tried really hard to sort something out, but it got to the end of the day and I had to tell him he’d be sleeping on the street that night.

“I had a real sense of feeling powerless.

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“We knew winter was coming and we had space at the back of the building for a shelter, so we decided as a church to go for it.”

The shelter, run by more than 150 volunteers, helps vulnerable people by providing them with meals, activities and a warm, safe place to sleep for the night.

Last winter, the Ilford Salvation Army, based in Clements Road, helped 61 homeless people overall and served more than 3,600 hot dinners.

During the shelter’s first year, John came across a familiar face.

He said: “The guy I’d been trying to help turned up at the gate.

“Seeing him there was quite a significant moment for me and he actually ended up moving into his own accommodation.”

The charity is appealing for volunteers, with a training session to be held from 1-3pm on Saturday.

People can also donate men’s scarves, gloves and hats for guests.

Naomi said: “Every contribution can make a real difference in someone else’s life.”

Call 020 8478 2961 or email

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