Community centre in Ilford stays open for rough sleepers

An Ilford community centre will remain open to help rough sleepers until they can be placed into temporary accommodation.

The Welcome Centre on St Mary’s Road provides meals, laundry, showers and clothing to rough sleepers, all even more vital now that businesses and public toilets have closed.

Homelessness charity Crisis claims the government wrote to every local authority asking them to house all rough sleepers by the weekend.

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said on March 26 that the council is “making real tangible progress” housing the borough’s rough sleepers.

He said: “I am very conscious that people sleeping rough are among the most vulnerable at this time and need protection. Our overriding concern is to ensure that all local people are kept safe.

“We are working with all relevant partners on measures to help place all rough sleepers in emergency temporary accommodation, so that they can socially distance and isolate, in line with the current public health guidance.

“Rough sleepers, without temporary or hostel accommodation, can continue to use The Welcome Centre in Ilford to meet their basic needs.

“However, we are asking those who have temporary or hostel accommodation at this time to please stay away from the centre for the time being to minimise the risks of infection.

“I would like to acknowledge and praise the extraordinary commitment of the Welcome Centre staff, who are working selflessly to ensure we keep homeless people as safe as possible as this difficult time.”

Figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show Redbridge had 112 rough sleepers at the end of last year, the most of any outer London borough.

In February, the council was awarded £625,000 by the government to help get people off the streets after it saw a sharp increase in the numbers of rough sleepers last year. 

On March 14, the temporary housing scheme Project Malachi opened, providing 42 flats with on-site support.


Mick Ferris

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