You’re not alone – charity’s message to homeless in Redbridge
PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 February 2015
“The feeling I’ve been left on my own makes me angry” was just one of the responses shared at an anger management workshop last week.
The sessions held by the Single Homeless Project (SHP) aim to provide an outlet for those dealing with and overcoming homelessness in Redbridge.
The charity, which provides accommodation to about 7,000 people across London, has become a lifeline to its Redbridge users with its workshops in Cranbrook Road, Ilford.
The SHP, which is looking for funding to keep it going, also helps its clients deal with relationship breakdown, bereavement, mental illness, addiction and getting into employment.
East London team manager Michael Corbishley said: “We provide support to single people and families who are at risk – from people fleeing domestic violence to people leaving prison.
Among SHP’s thousands of clients is 47-year-old Mark Lipman, who grew up in Ilford.
The former British Telecoms employee found himself spiralling out of control, drinking “about two bottles of scotch a day” about two years ago before he was checked into a rehabilitation centre.
Mark had to leave his family home after his father couldn’t cope with him.
After a gruelling six-months battling his addiction, he was put in touch with the SHP after he had nowhere to go.
A year later, Mark is in a much happier place, alcohol-free and is getting his life back together while staying at a bed and breakfast in Manor Park.
Mark said: “There was a massive gap in my life when I left rehab, and they’ve just given me the confidence to try new things – they were someone to talk to.
“All of my friends had gone, they were all alcohol users and I couldn’t mix with them anymore. I even went on cinema trips and they really do try to stop you from being isolated.”
He added: “They’ve definitely helped me with my drinking and they can help you too – people should get involved, you’ve got nothing to lose.”
“You meet people that have been in full-time work and have been made redundant and you meet people that have been in the care system their whole lives. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate.”
Apart from practical support, the charity puts on social activities and fun workshops too, for instance with its weekly Loxford Lane Allotments gardening
project and its furniture upcycling project. “Our programmes are about self-esteem and building people’s confidence,” said Michael. “When they’re in a bigger group they realise they’re not alone and there’s other people in their situation too.”
He added: “We first discuss what they want support with – it’s very client-led. And we set goals with them – stuff like getting people back into education or training.”
The SHP, which was started in 1975 by a group of homeless men who opened a hostel, is supported by volunteers who help with its services and sign up people sleeping rough in the borough.
Michael said: “We’ve grown constantly since 1975 and it’s testament to the work that we do – we now work across 23 London boroughs.”
He added: “There’s a housing crisis in London and we’re all aware of it – the problem is quite visible, but we’ve been at the forefront of trying new methods to combat homelessness. We like to give our users holistic and personalised support.”
The charity prides itself on its aftercare. Michael said: “You can have two people in the same situation sleeping rough but the decisions they each make which can determine how long we work with them. “It could be a month or six months, but we’re pretty good at getting people into sustainable accommodation and we’ll stick with them until they do so.”
Call 020 8478 8532 to get involved.
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