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Hornchurch charity given £277,000 lottery funding to reconnect homeless children with family

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 November 2019

Bolaji Olagunju of You and Me Counselling.

Bolaji Olagunju of You and Me Counselling.

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A Hornchurch charity has been awarded more than £277,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to help reconnect youngsters living on the streets with their families.

Staff at You and Me Counselling in Hornchurch. Jenna Altringham, Bolaji Olagunju and Paula Sewell.Staff at You and Me Counselling in Hornchurch. Jenna Altringham, Bolaji Olagunju and Paula Sewell.

You and Me Counselling recently launched the Stronger Together project which applies a whole family approach to tackle violence and knife crime, by finding youngsters who have left home or are homeless and giving them dedicated counselling to find out what led to their split with their family.

They then bring in the youngster's family for seperate counselling before bringing everyone together to find a compromise and reunite them.

Founder Bolaji Olagunju said: "A lot of young people join gangs for a sense of belonging.

"We need to talk to them and find what led them to get to that stage and talk to their parents about their role in that as well."

Staff at You and Me Counselling in Hornchurch. Bolaji Olagunju, Paula Sewell and Jenna Altringham.Staff at You and Me Counselling in Hornchurch. Bolaji Olagunju, Paula Sewell and Jenna Altringham.

You and Me receives referrals from social workers, GPs and police for at risk young people and find them a place to sleep if needed, before beginning counselling sessions.

They've counselled children as young as 11.

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Bolaji said: "The young people are craving for a relationship but it has broken down. At the same time the parents have had enough so we try to bring them together and find a compromise.

"It's not about bad parenting but about how you can repair bad relationships."

The National Lottery funding will fund Stronger Together for five years, so it could provide counselling for 35 families a year.

As part of its community work last year the charity worked with St Andrew's Church in Hornchurch to raise enough money for Christmas presents for 123 vulnerable children across Havering, from 25 different schools.

This year it is trying to expand its effort to reach 500 children across 90 different schools in the borough.

St Andrew's has pledged to provide 150 presents but the charity is appealing to the public for the additional help.

Information for the Christmas presents crowdfunding can be found at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/you-and-me-counselling.

If you can't afford to donate but would prefer to give your time, or find out information about the charity please call 01708 477663.

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