Formerly homeless Mayor inspires change at charity event
Formerly homeless Mayor inspires change at charity event
A reception named ‘A Place to Call Home’ drew attention to the 320,000 people experiencing homelessness in England, and specifically the local crisis in the London Borough of Newham, where 1 in every 24 people do not have a home. Held in the House of Lords on 3rd December, it was organised by homeless charity Caritas Anchor House and hosted by Field Marshal Lord Guthrie.
Revealing her personal experience of homelessness, Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said, “When I was 16, we lost our beautiful, family home. Myself, my three siblings and parents lived in temporary accommodation for around eight years, and we spent a period ‘sofa-surfing’ in my uncle’s overcrowded home. It took my family some ten years to recover, but the trauma of losing your home never leaves you.”
The charity, based in the London Borough of Newham, was commended by the Mayor who spoke passionately about how the local authority is working in partnership with Caritas Anchor House to help more people than ever to overcome homelessness and get back on their feet. She said, “I want to convey my heartfelt and sincere gratitude to Caritas Anchor House, a formidable charity delivering a profoundly important service.”
Each year, Caritas Anchor House provides hundreds of people with a place to call home, and gives them the support they need to turn their lives around. By providing education, guidance and personal rehabilitation, they supported 262 homeless people last year, of which 45 secured employment and 91 went on to move into their own homes.
Jeremy Swain, former Chief Executive of charity Thames Reach, is now heading up the government’s new initiative tackling homelessness. He said, “We need to end rough sleeping in this borough. The government is supporting Newham and has committed to £1.4million of funding for the borough as part of our Rough Sleeper Initiative. I think the good news is that Caritas Anchor House is a wonderful service, which we are investing in directly.”
Swain reminded guests to focus not only on the stark numbers, but on the humans beings affected by homelessness.
Ibrahim, now living at Caritas Anchor House, shared his experiences with the 250-strong crowd. He had always lived in his parents’ home in Newham, but after a relationship breakdown with his family, Ibrahim became homeless.
“I’ve got GCSEs and A Levels from a local school, and even achieved a Level 5 accredited course in English Teaching. Things were looking up for me; I never envisaged that I would become homeless.”
“I ended up sleeping rough, and couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. It was late autumn when the first gust of wind hit me, then it dawned on me how serious my situation was. I was absolutely terrified.”
He spent weeks trying to get by in the harsh weather, before the local authority referred him to Caritas Anchor House for accommodation in October 2017.
“My keyworker at Caritas Anchor House was really helpful, kind and proactive right from the start. She recognised that I needed to focus on my mental health before I was able to progress, and helped me get one-to-one counselling support, which was absolutely invaluable.”
“My keyworker empowered me, and encouraged me to apply for jobs which I thought were too good for me. The barriers were actually in my head – I was more than capable, but didn’t have the self-belief. She helped me to see that the sky really is the limit when you have the confidence to try.
Ibrahim praised the support he has received in his time at Caritas Anchor House, and said, “I can’t thank Caritas Anchor House enough for their support – I will be forever grateful. Now I feel confident and know that with determination I am able to achieve all I want to. I can finally see a direction in my life and it’s positive.”
Amanda Dubarry, the charity’s Chief Executive, said, “Home is not just about a place, it’s about how you feel. You can’t put a value on that, and I can see that every day in the work that Caritas Anchor House does. Here, people move in and move on, connections are made, confidence is built, skills grow, barriers are broken and difficulties are eased. It’s a place where people believe in you.”
“I am humbled every day by the work our staff do and the impact that they have so thank you for being superbly professional, for being dedicated to other people, but most of all, thank you for staying kind because it matters.”
The charity needs help to ensure that every person that walks through their doors has access to the best support possible, making the hope of an independent life a reality. For more information, or to make a contribution to turn a life around, please visit www.caritasanchorhouse.org.uk or call 020 7476 6062.
Sample of photos and media contact below. High resolution photos are available on request.
Jeremy Swain, Deputy Director of the MHCLG Rough Sleeping Initative - Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, Mayor of Newham
Ibrahim Hersi, a resident of Caritas Anchor House - Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive of Caritas Anchor House
Ibrahim Hersi, a resident of Caritas Anchor House with reception guests - Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive of Caritas Anchor House
Jazmine Sandison, Communications Lead and Serena Rianjongdee, Fundraising and Marketing Coordinator
Email: email@example.com Phone: 020 7476 6062
Caritas Anchor House is homeless charity providing accommodation and support to single homeless adults in the London Borough of Newham. The charity’s driving mission is to ensure that those who walk through their doors grow in confidence and move towards leading independent, self-fulfilling lives by providing education, guidance and personal rehabilitation. They work with vulnerable groups including those affected by homelessness, unemployment, mental health, substance misuse, domestic abuse and offending. Registered charity no: 1147794
The London Borough of Newham has the highest level of homelessness in the country, with 1 in every 24 people without a home. That’s at least 14,500 people. (Source: Shelter, Nov 2018) By comparison, 1 in 200 people are homeless nationally - 320,000 people.
By holding a Place to Call Home reception, Caritas Anchor House hoped to encourage people to tackle this global issue on a local level by supporting the charity, working to make a difference, and help tackle the escalating levels of homelessness.