Project launched in Cricklewood to help people in crisis
PUBLISHED: 16:39 25 November 2016
A former rough sleeper from Willesden Green is helping launch a ground breaking new service to help those in crisis avoid ending up on the streets.
Kwame Barlow, who lives in Willesden Lane, is one of a group of peer support workers for the Independent Lifestyles project, funded by the Big Lottery.
The project is run by the homeless support charity Ashford Place in Cricklewood. The organisation will receive £500,000 over five years, to help turn around the lives of vulnerable people.
Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central , Cllr Parvez Ahmed, mayor of Brent and Danny Mayer, chief executive of the charity in Ashford Road, were at the launch on Friday joined by the Big Lottery representatives and also members of Southampton University, who will track the project’s progress.
Mr Barlow, from Neasden, arrived at Ashford place two years ago after he was made homeless following a family dispute.
The 34-year-old said: “I’ve moved on now, I’ve been living in Willesden Lane for a year and a half and feel much better, rejuvenated. I’m back on my feet, doing my music. But I still come back to Ashford Place to help other clients, give them advice, take them on flat viewings.
Having been homeless ourselves, we can relate to clients, understand what they might be coming from. It’s a different world out on the street, people don’t realise, when everyone’s gone to sleep there are still people struggling in that different world.”
Fellow peer supporter Timothy Iman, formerly from Kingsbury but now living in Camden, added: “We came back because when we were homeless they gave us that opportunity to get back on our feet and get responsible again. Having been through that process we thought giving back would be good. In this process we also have the opportunity to get training.
Ashford Place chief executive Danny Mayer, said: “We are supporting a team of peer workers, trained to go out in the community, to pop up clinics, parks, public spaces, wherever people are, to give people the message that there is help available.
The aim is to support people in crisis - those who are in poverty, the long term unemployed, family breakdowns, anything that can lead to crisis, we are here to prevent that. There’s an increase of homelessness in Brent. We’ve got to get in there before that happens.”
Ms Butler pledged to promote the project in her surgery in the High Road, Willesden. She added: “We have to work more collectively to tackle the homeless crisis.”
Shona Duncan, senior head of funding at the Big Lottery, said Independent Lifestyles was one of 59 national projects in its £30m Help Through Crisis programme.
She said: “This is unique. Ashford Place is much more in touch with the communities and individuals supporting them to take the lead. This is the kind of model we’d like others to replicate.”
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