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Harold Hill woman opens Romford shop with help of Hope4Havering homelessness charity

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 December 2019

Half of the proceeds of Larissa Fofana's designs go to Hope4Havering. Picture: Larissa Fofana

Half of the proceeds of Larissa Fofana's designs go to Hope4Havering. Picture: Larissa Fofana

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A 28-year-old woman is proud to open her own shop in Romford after Havering’s homelessness charity helped her move on from a life on the streets.

Larissa Fofana from Harold Hill has set up a customised African clothing design shop, Eben Wood Clothing, with the help of Hope4Havering. Picture: Larissa FofanaLarissa Fofana from Harold Hill has set up a customised African clothing design shop, Eben Wood Clothing, with the help of Hope4Havering. Picture: Larissa Fofana

Colonel Markham Bryant MBE will officially be opening Ebden Wood Clothing in Atlanta Boulevard, Romford on Wednesday, December 18 at 2pm.

The shop opening is somewhat of a milestone for Larissa Forfana, who lived on the streets for 10 months.

Originally from the Ivory Coast, Larissa moved to the UK in 2016.

She became friends with the wrong people and ended up losing all of her money and possessions.

Larissa Fofana works with African prints for her custom made clothing and designs. Picture: Larissa FofanaLarissa Fofana works with African prints for her custom made clothing and designs. Picture: Larissa Fofana

She told the Recorder: "I ended up with nothing. I lost everything.

"In the beginning it was very hard. Before, the night shelter wasn't based in one place so I would change location every single night, sleeping in different churches.

"During the day I would spend my time outside on the streets. Last winter was really hard.

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"But I just had to get used to it because I didn't have any other choice."

For 10 months Larissa spent her days on the streets and her nights at Hope4Havering's The Catalyst Night Shelter which is now based permanently in Atlanta Boulevard.

Hope4Havering helped Larissa by providing her with food and assisting her with finding housing.

Due to her nationality, Larissa wasn't eligible for benefits which made finding a new home particularly difficult.

Eventually someone at the charity helped her find a job teaching French to nursery children and she now works as a nanny, looking after youngsters.

Larissa's clothes and sewing skills come from her time in France where she studied fashion.

Her designs are inspired by her African heritage. She uses clothes that have been donated to Hope4Havering and transforms them with African prints.

"Kim Merry [Hope4Havering] found me a sewing machine and an office where I could do my work," she said.

"Then she decided to change the office to a shop and I started to create more things.

"We're going to have a little party at the shop to show people what I do, where I come from and my journey."


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