‘You feel broken’: Mum, 28, slept rough in Ilford for more than five years

PUBLISHED: 15:00 23 January 2019

Welcome Centre manager Sonia Lynch interviews Danute, who has been sleeping rough in Redbridge for more than five years.

Welcome Centre manager Sonia Lynch interviews Danute, who has been sleeping rough in Redbridge for more than five years.


“I want to understand how to be a woman.”

That is the wish of 28-year-old mum Danute, who has been sleeping on the streets of Ilford for more than five years.

Since 2014, she has been registered with charity the Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, and has been staying at a night shelter in Ilford for the past two months.

“When I was on the street, I felt no good,” she said.

“You are scared because you think – ‘maybe this person has a knife’. You start to get paranoid.”

Danute came to the UK from Lithuania aged 16 with her mum, dad and two brothers – but her mum suddenly went back after two weeks.

“I don’t know why she left,” Danute said.

After getting into a relationship, she moved with her boyfriend outside London to take on an agency job working in a factory.

She admits using drugs, but insisted: “When I found out I was pregnant, I stopped.”

Danute’s relationship began to unravel following the birth of her son.

“I saw no action from [my boyfriend] so I left him,” she said.

Lacking the support she needed from her partner, she moved into temporary accommodation and her dad and sister looked after her son.

But in 2011 Danute lost the accommodation and started sleeping rough.

“It made me stressed, nervous. You feel broken,” she said.

“It was very hard to control the anger,” she added, admitting that she would take out her frustrations by self-harming. Danute now hopes to get her life back on track – to get and job and a home.

She relies on the Welcome Centre for English classes, computer training as well as showers, food, clothing, flu injections and to be screened for tuberculosis.

Counselling, massage therapy and boxercise have also helped her to relax and relieve her stress and anger, she added.

By donating to crowdfunder Redbridge Together, you can help ensure The Welcome Centre has the resources it needs to help others off the streets.

Redbridge Together

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 a temporary hostel by created from recycled shipping containers in Chadwick Road, Ilford.

Your donations will help Project Malachi help more of the borough’s most vulnerable 
rough sleepers for as long as it is needed.

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

Donate £3 by texting LIFE to 70145 or at

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