Hope for Havering’s homeless with new permanent base for charity

An out-of-use office block in Romford could become a refuge for the borough’s homeless if a charity receives approval for the building to become its new home.

The Hope for Havering Night Shelter – which has been running homeless shelters at churches in the borough for almost a year – is seeking to convert the property in North Street into a permanent base.

The plan is to make the former Seetec building a centre, with offices, space to support recovering addicts and for shelter and education.

Same model

One of the charity’s founders, Kim Merry, said the building would be run on the same model as their current shelters, where applications are made elsewhere and no one under the influence of drink or drugs is allowed in.

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No one with a criminal record that includes a violent or sexual offence would be allowed in either.

Kim told the Recorder: “For so many years, people have been sleeping outside nearby buildings. In this day and age, is this the right thing to be occurring?

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“The people we’re dealing with are called intentionally homeless, but they are people who can’t pay their rent, have had a breakdown, a death in the family when their home was in someone else’s name – people like that, people who can’t pay their rent.But people just shouldn’t be sleeping in doorways anymore.”

The charity has held two meetings to inform local residents about the plan and will be applying to Havering Council to change the use of the building.

Kim added that the charity would support an extension of the nearby alcohol-free zone to help its efforts to reduce antisocial behaviour.

Former drug addict Darryl Silver, 39, who has been helped by the charity, said: “Kim’s brought something in which totally saved my life. Next week I’ll be 90-days clean. I was in Romford and there’s nothing for homeless people.

“I was living in a bin store behind a supermarket. I went to Hope for Havering – and the rest is history. To get that building would be absolutely brilliant.”

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