‘It could be you’ - Ilford homeless shelter gets ready to open

“It will help us to feed people a lot better than last year” was how one worker described receiving a donation to their winter night shelter.

The Salvation Army, Clements Road, Ilford is preparing to open their annual night shelter on Thursday which also provides meals to those in need.

John Clifton, 26, a corps officer, said the money donated by area committees five, six and seven, would help make up a shortfall in their funding.

Each committee gave �1,667.

Mr Clifton said: “This will make up the difference which will help us to feed people a lot better than last year and not just rely on tinned stuff.”

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The shelter will be open for 12 weeks and can sleep 25 people each night.

When the weather gets below freezing the centre opens their hall as an emergency shelter which can sleep between 40 and 60 people.

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Over the past few months Mr Clifton says he has seen more people turn to the centre whether for advice, food or shelter.

“I think it’s the economic climate, food bank usage is on the rise and there are more people who are homeless already or who are facing it imminently,” he said. “Many don’t have access to public funds.”

The people who use the shelter have varied background and different reasons as to why they are homeless.

“One man was a lawyer by background he had lost his job and had his relationship breakdown, he found himself on the street. As a single man you’re not deemed as a priority [for housing] and you’re expected to fend for yourself. People need to realise, that could be you.”

There was an expectation that the Olympics would force homeless people out of Newham and into surround boroughs, but this is not something Mr Clifton has witnessed.

He said: “I would not say it was due to the Olympics, it’s too simple an explanation. More and more people are facing homelessness, it’s not because of the Olympics, it’s because people can’t afford rent.”

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