London’s first ‘fully-serviced’ night shelter opens in Cricklewood
- Credit: Archant
The capital’s first night shelter which offers a range of services for rough sleepers has opened in Cricklewood thanks to crowd fundraising.
Generous online donators helped Ashford Place in Ashford Road, raise the money needed to accommodate 25 homeless people until housing is found them.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, Mapesbury’s Cllr Lia Colacicco and Dawn Butler, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brent Central, were among community leaders who were given a tour of the building including the new dormitory area.
Unlike other night shelters in London, Ashford Place provides three meals a day, a GP linked to Burnley Practice, two types of counselling twice a week, an IT Training Suite to facilitate job searches, benefits advice and help with finding accommodation.
Danny Maher is the Chief Executive Officer of the centre, which is also a charity.
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Calling their new service ‘unique’ he said: “There’s a lot of support, we are like a family to them.
“We tell the residents there’s one rule here that they are in charge.
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“There are lots of services, and we want them to use them so that we don’t see them again.
“That said, it couldn’t work without our volunteers and partners.”
One happy user of the shelter is Regon, who the Times previously reported about when he was sleeping behind a branch of Asda.
He has rehabilitated since living at the shelter and now attends college. He said: “Now I am happy. I have help, food, clothes and nice people to talk to.”
Albert McDowell, from Kilburn, was helped into the centre by police who saw him sleeping rough while out on patrol and grateful to the centre for all the help.
The 50-year-old said: “I’m doing art classes, studying guitar and working on the computers. Being here you don’t worry about being homeless, there’s so much to do. When you leave here you are going to somewhere new. You don’t want to leave here then be back on the streets again.”
Kwame Barlow, 32, from Neasden was made homeless after a family dispute. “Sometimes you can’t stay nowhere, You look for warm places, like bus shelters, but it’s hard,” he said.
Since living at the shelter he has had a number of job interviews and is working on a hip hop album.
He said: “I’m finding the lift to help me back on my feet again.”
Ashford place, opened seven years ago, is supported by the council, trusts, partners and local faith organisations.
Relying heavily on arrangements with the private sector, residents can move out as early as 18 days into a new home if they are ready.
Cllr Butt said: “The centre is a real success and a model for other places.”
For more information about Ashford Place visit ashfordplace.org.uk.