Recorder Christmas Appeal - Exploitation is behind plight of many who are sleeping rough

About half of all people sleeping rough in Redbridge are of Punjabi origin, according to the organiser of a homeless shelter held in a gurdwara.

Gurdwara Singh Sabha in High Road, Seven Kings, opens each night for anyone who needs a safe place to sleep.

It is run with the help of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL), High Road, Ilford, which is the Recorder’s Christmas charity.

Mankamal Singh, treasurer at the gurdwara, said: “We put the case to RAMFEL and asked how they could help, they stepped up really.

“We have rough sleepers of Punjabi descent and that is a concern for us as a community.”

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This is the second year the gurdwara has opened up as a night shelter for three months over the winter.

Based on their experiences last year, organisers decided to get RAMFEL involved to give them help and support.

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“It comes down to issues of immigration,” Mr Singh said. “People are being exploited and come to this country as they want to improve their lives. They pay large sums of money to come here but they cannot be employed because of paperwork. They are unemployable and end up on the streets.”

RAMFEL helps those staying in the shelter with free immigration legal advice.

Mr Singh said: “RAMFEL tell them how they can get moving and then they can make a decision and hopefully they won’t be in this situation next year.”

He said his team visited Newham and Havering but they did not see the high number of homeless people of Punjabi descent as in Redbridge.

He said: “In proportion to the rough sleepers in total in Redbridge, we are talking 50 per cent are of Punjabi origin. They do congregate in Redbridge – they have become a family in that respect.”

We are appealing for non-perishable food items, winter coats and shoes.

Anything you can spare will be greatly appreciated, no matter how small.

If you would like to get involved, bring anything you can to the Recorder’s office at 539 High Road, Ilford, and say hello while you are here.

Donations can also be taken to RAMFEL if you would prefer, which is based at the Cardinal Heenan Centre, High Road, Ilford.

If your business, organisation or place of worship would like to get involved, we would love to do a story on you, so please get in touch.

Contact the newsdesk on 020 8478 3710 or email

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