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Vicar explains why he laid down beds inside Kentish Town church for homeless

'We have been doing this for eight years and I think we have only ever had one smashed window'

16 February, 2017 — By Tom Foot

C4WS volunteers Hilda DeSouza, Deirdre Gray, Martina McEnhill, Sandra Francis, Jose Roberts, Nadia Talhado and Father Tom Forde

VOLUNTEERS are enjoying table football and bingo games with the homeless while dishing up two hot meals and laying a fresh bed for the night.

The C4WS homeless project, run by a charity and a collective of churches of different denominations across Camden, is “really rewarding work”, organisers said on Tuesday night. At Our Lady Help of Christians Church, in Kentish Town, Father Tom Forde said: “It is good for the guests themselves, but also for the community. I think the people who get involved with it here get a lot out of it. It helps build the guests’ confidence.”

Fr Tom said that the need for homelessness support was rising, added: “Many of them are from abroad, many are very well educated. We have been doing this for eight years and I think we have only ever had one smashed window.”

Beds laid out for homeless guests

The C4WS scheme works through referrals and is only for homeless people who do not have a current problem with drugs or alcohol. Once included, they get a full dinner – from volunteer chef Nadia Talhado – a hot shower and a bed for the night –before lights `out at 11pm. At 7am they are given a full cooked breakfast, before leaving for the day.

The group are then offered up the same each night in a different church in Camden for up to a month during the winter. They are also given help getting in touch with the appropriate services in a bid to end the cycle and help them get back on their feet.

There were 14 volunteers at the Lady Margaret Road church on Tuesday, mostly helping to lay the beds and set up the food – while two were preparing to also spend the night in the church. But more are needed to help keep the scheme running.

Sue Higgins, who lives in Kentish Town and is a parishioner at the church, said: “You see people coming in with nothing on their backs. It really is very rewarding, but I don’t think many people know about it.” The Jewish charity Mitzvah Day had donated all the food on Tuesday, while vouchers and packages of food worth hundreds of pounds have also been donated by Pound­stretcher, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s super­markets.

The scheme runs from January 3 and March 28. To get involved contact http://c4wshomeless

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