Ilford Salvation Army take on the winter with 200 volunteers

A Salvation Army officer has praised the work of volunteers at a homeless shelter of the past month but warned the worst is yet to come as temperatures plunge.

John Clifton, 26, a corps officer at the Salvation Army in Clements Road, Ilford, said the church had offered shelter to about 50 people over the past month.

The shelter will be open until March 1, providing hot meals and a safe and warm place for people to sleep.

Mr Clifton said: “It’s been really positive, we got 3,000 tins from the Co-op supermarket which was quite handy, and people having been dropping in and giving money to us.”

He said: “People have been really generous with us,” he said. “I had the impression that charities’ collections were going down. We’ve been doing carol singing in Ilford and people were really, really generous.”

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As well as offering shelter to the homeless over the winter months, the volunteers visit those finding themselves in severe hardship. He said: “One woman, in particular, is in a horrific situation.

“She’s not in a position to work at the moment and when her benefits came through the loan company took the whole lot and left her with �1 in her account before Christmas.”

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The woman has a young daughter and volunteers from the Salvation Army visited her to provide practical support.

“When we got to the door we could hear her on the stairs crying almost uncontrollably. That’s the sort of families we help,” he added.

The shelter has about 200 volunteers who give up their time to help anyone visiting the shelter.

Mr Clifton said: “They are really committed to it. As with everything, you get the nucleus who frequently volunteer and others who give as much time as they can. The bunch in the middle are amazing.”

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