Havering night shelter has brought hope to a hundred

09:00 22 December 2012

David Tonkins, and Tony Bennett, with  Kim Merry, founder of the shelter

David Tonkins, and Tony Bennett, with Kim Merry, founder of the shelter


It has only existed since October 2011, but it has formed a community and made a huge difference to many lives. Ian Weinfass spoke to some of those who turned to the Hope for Havering Night Shelter for assistance.

“Hope for Havering got me to where I am today,” says Tony Bennett, proudly.

In and of trouble for “most of his life” Tony was a cocaine and cannabis addict who stole so he could afford drugs.

Earlier this year the 28-year-old was sent to prison.

He was released in April, and was helped through rehabilitation by the shelter in June.

“It feels absolutely fantastic, I’m so far ahead of where I was now. They’ve really helped me out so much in six months, I’ve changed,” he said.

A few weeks ago Tony stood up in front of the congregation at the Trinity Methodist Church, Angel Way, to apologise for stealing from them last year.

“I spoke in front of 30 people. I didn’t really want to do it at first, but it was only right. I was very nervous but prayed before and it turned out to be the best thing I’ve done in my life,” he added.

The shelter has helped more than 130 people find a place to stay temporarily, and also helps with rehabilitation and runs residential weeks away.

Its actual shelter moves to different churches around the borough at different times, and it has an office in North Street, Romford.

Founded on Christian values, the charity helps anyone it can.

David Tonkins, from Collier Row, describes himself as another Hope for Havering success story.

The 34-year-old budding artist had been homeless on and off for twenty years. Just over a year ago he quit drugs, and was put in contact with the shelter.

“I was there for about five weeks over Christmas and they just gave me support, which was fantastic,” he said.

“A lot of the people involved have become my friends. On a Friday night I help out now, I’m not out at the pub.

“There were 10-12 guys there at Christmas (2011), we got to know each other. It’s like being part of a little family.”

And it is the aspect of community which founder Kim Merry believes is the key to its success.

She said: “It has been a success. We get some of our people direct from prison.

“They’ve had a time away when they don’t want to make new friends, to get away from their old life, and they come to our community and we are their new friendship group.”

To make a donation to the charity text HOHA44 to 70070 or call them on 07951 702 777.


Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 12:00
Havering Town Hall.

Havering Council has approved releasing more than £83million to provide affordable housing in the borough.

Yesterday, 12:00
Campaigners demonstrate in front of the Mecca Bingo hall in Hornchurch after Lidl submitted a planning application to demolish the Tower building

Campaigners battling to save the Mecca Bingo Hall building in Hornchurch are vowing to battle on and will appeal a decision not to list the building.

Yesterday, 10:00
Borough commander Jason Gwillim told the Recorder it was

The Borough Commander and MPs have welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s decision to scrap cuts to police forces.

Fri, 16:10
Recorder reporter Hayley Anderson with her national journalism award

Recorder reporter Hayley Anderson was highly commended in a national journalism awards evening in Birmingham last night.

Fri, 15:45
Time FM Steve Allen will host the chat with the Recorder's Chris Carter and Laura Burnip

A swan that got police in a flap, term-time holidays and Havering’s mirocpub were the topics covered on today’s Recorder paper review on Time 107.5FM.

Fri, 13:29
Ryan Machin and his mother Michelle Bennett at their home in Romford after Ryan took the last British Airways flight back from Sharm el-Sheikh to London

A 17-year-old who worked in a hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh was one of the last passengers to be repatriated to the UK and calls on people not to be afraid to return to the holiday resort.

Fri, 11:28
Two fire engines attended a house fire at an address in Park Lane, Hornchurch on Wednesday evening and a man was rushed to hopistal where he was treated for smoke inhalation

A man was rushed to hospital for smoke inhalation after firefighters were called at a flat in Hornchurch on Wednesday evening.

Fri, 10:57
Boys born in Cranham will live healthily for 17 years longer than those in Harold Hill

New statistics show the inequality in expectations for our children

Most read news

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!


You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder