Redbridge Council confirms Ilford Lane night shelter is staying open amid closure fears
- Credit: Archant
Redbridge Council has confirmed an Ilford Lane night shelter is not closing its doors this month amid rough sleepers’ fears it might.
The council has reaffirmed its pledge to keep the 32-bed night shelter in Ryedale Court open until Project Malachi launches later this year, although the need for the shelter will be “kept under review”.
The announcement comes after an online petition to keep Ryedale Court open, set up last month, gained more than 130 signatures.
In a statement released today, cabinet member for housing and homelessness Councillor Farah Hussain said: “In Redbridge, we are committed to ending rough sleeping once and for all.
“We know that street homelessness ruins lives and takes a terrible toll on mental and physical health.”
She added: “By keeping the shelter open, we are providing direct support for our most vulnerable residents.”
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Launched in December last year, Ryedale became the borough’s second shelter alongside the Salvation Army-run centre in Clements Road.
Together the two shelters offer accommodation for up to 60 rough sleepers per night.
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Speaking at the time, council leader Cllr Jas Athwal pledged that the shelter would remain open until Project Malachi, a homeless hostel backed by the Ilford Salvation Army (SA), opens in the summer.
However today’s announcement adds that the “need for the facility” will be “kept under review”.
The Recorder understands that the number of guests choosing to staying at the shelters might drop as summer approaches and weather conditions improve.
The online petition was started by a newly-established self help group composed of rough sleepers called Movement for the Poor, the Injusticed, the Neglected and the Homeless (MPINH).
Its founder, who did not wish to be named, told the Recorder she had been sleeping rough in the borough for more than four years.
Her petition also calls for Ryedale Court to be transformed from a night shelter to a permanent hostel for rough sleepers.
“We would like to thank the council, the Salvation Army, the Welcome Centre and Single Homeless Project for the interim work they have done for many years to help the homeless.
“But in light of the many deaths we have had recently we realise that more stable accomodation is needed.”
She added: “We are proposing that we live in Ryedale – the building already has many rooms for single people.”
She also complained of night shelter conditions and argues a hostel would be more comfortable.
“There is currently only one shower for 32 people to use in one hour,” she said. “Is that acceptable?”
She is also concerned that Project Malachi will not have enough beds to accommodate all rough sleepers in the borough.
Initially, the SA expected it would be able to provide eight to 10 beds – out of the 42-unit project – for people stuck in this situation.
But now the SA is planning to devote 15 beds to rough sleepers who have no recourse to public funds, thanks to additional funding from crowdfunding campaign Redbridge Together.
Remaining units will be used as temporary accommodation for those staying in B&Bs.
Responding, Council leader Jas Athwal said that Ryedale Court is a temporary solution in the council’s wider strategy to tackle rough sleeping.
“We have a plan to eradicate homelessness,” he said. “We will deliver that promise.”
Among the other measures the council is taking is tripling outreach support, investing in the Housing First service to provide those with a history of rough sleeping with accomodation.
Ryedale Court is being run by the council’s charity partner Single Homeless Project.
Redbridge Together, of which the Recorder is a media partner, aims to raise £500,000 for Project Malachi and The Welcome Centre.
Project Malachi will see the creation of a temporary hostel for rough sleepers and homeless people made from recycled shipping containers in Chadwick Road.
Support workers from charity Ramfel will provide rough sleepers living in the hostel with immigration advice if they need it.
The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, helps with providing hot meals, showers, clothing and laundry but also advice and support, training and employment and a nurse-led clinic supporting health and mental health.
Businesses can support by donating money, raising funds, displaying Redbridge Together promotional material or offering work placements.
The campaign is an association between Ilford Salvation Army, The Welcome Centre, Ilford BID, the Ilford Recorder and Redbridge Council.
To get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate £3 by texting LIFE to 70145 or at Crowdfunder.co.uk/RedbridgeTogether