Redbridge Together: Business leaders unite to tackle the homelessness crisis with £500k campaign
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:11 08 March 2018
From collecting donations to offering work experience, businesses big and small are being called on to help rebuild the lives of rough sleepers in Redbridge.
Across the borough shops are displaying posters and collection tins emblazoned with the words Redbridge Together, a crowdfunding campaign which launches today (Thursday).
The campaign aims to raise a total of £500,000 in one year to fund two pioneering projects at the heart of ending homelessness.
It will also encourage businesses to provide work experience placements to former rough sleepers.
The campaign is backed by the Ilford Recorder.
James Mugford, Store Manager of Marks & Spencer’s Ilford branch, chaired the event.
He said: “Homelessness an issue which we see spike in sentiment around Christmas and again when it gets particularly cold.
“But it’s not an issue that goes away.”
He added: “We wanted to do something solve the problem from a business point of view but more importantly from a human point of view.”
A driving force behind the campaign, M&S has already donated £5,000, has pledged to raise a further £20,000 and run at least 40 work experience placements.
Metro Bank, Next, Nationwide, Debenhams, The Exchange shopping centre, in High Road, have also confirmed their support and the campaign is backed by Ilford Business Improvement District (BID), which works on behalf of almost 600 businesses in the town centre.
Two-thirds of the money raised is set to go to Salvation Army-led Project Malachi, a pioneering pop-up hostel which hopes accommodate 42 people.
Introducing the project, Ilford SA’s Captain John Clifton said: “We have really high expectations of people that, when they sleep on a bed of concrete, we think they are going to be able to go to work.
“This is an attempt to provide the conditions where people will be able to move on into better situations.”
The hostel is set to be built on the crumbling site of a former funeral directors, on Chadwick Road, by transforming recycled shipping containers into studio apartments fully-equipped with kitchen, bathrooms and sofas.
It is hoped around a quarter of the studio apartments will be allocated free of charge to people who have been on the streets for a number of years and are legally unable to claim any benefits.
The project, initially announced in October 2016, is forecast to cost £3.4m and The Salvation Army has pledged £1.1m towards this.
Additional revenue will come from rent paid by Redbridge Council, as the Ilford SA is set to become the landlord for the residents.
In return, the charity plans to offer all residents two and a half hours of support from trained workers every week.
But still a funding gap remains, which is where Redbridge Together comes in.
The other third of the funds raised will go to The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, whose services are used by around 40 to 45 rough sleepers every day.
Set up in 2001, the centre has a holistic approach to caring for rough sleepers, offering warm meals, showers and a laundry service to a medical clinic, an employment service.
Director Phil Herbert gave examples of how business partnerships have been crucial to the the centre’s work, including regular donations of food, clothing and storage space.
Among the guests were council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, and London Assembly Member for Havering and Redbridge Cllr Keith Prince.
Cllr Prince said: “It’s an important opportunity for big companies to come on board.
“With their involvement they will have the opportunity to replicate this across the whole country.”
Redbridge Together is an association between Ilford Salvation Army (SA), The Welcome Centre, Ilford BID, the Ilford Recorder and Redbridge Council.
Participating business will receive posters, collection tins and guidance packs on fundraising and running work experience placements.
To get involved email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can donate by texting LIFE to 70145 or at Crowdfunder.co.uk/RedbridgeTogether