News Walthamstow

New support hub for rough sleepers opens in Walthamstow

Facilities at the Forest Road hub include washing machines, cooking appliances and IT facilities as well as spaces for homeless to access physical and mental health support, reports Rana Rastegari

Previous Change Grow Live service user Carly opening the hub, Credit: Change Grow Live

A new hub dedicated to helping rough sleepers has opened in Walthamstow.

The centre is run by the charity Change Grow Live and provides spaces for individuals to access physical and mental health support as well as social care and housing professionals.

Facilities at the hub include washing machines, cooking appliances and IT facilities. The hub operates on an integrated care model of support utilising multiple agencies including Waltham Forest Council, the NHS and multiple charities.

Cheryl Tribe, a North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) community nurse, has been taking care of the physical health of rough sleepers for four years and is the only physical health nurse at the service. She works closely with two mental health nurses, taking care of 600 patients a year and 20 new referrals each month. 

Her work consists of offering health checks in the streets, underpasses, tents and hostels. She said: “Homeless people are the most resilient people I’ve ever met. I’m proud to work with them and witness the steps they take to become healthier, to survive. Some of it might seem easy, but it takes remarkable courage and heart. No one should live without healthcare. But with homeless people, it is considered acceptable. That’s wrong, and our service is breaking that pattern.”

Carly, who Cheryl met on the streets, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the new hub. Cheryl said: “When I first met Carly through her mental health social worker, she was living in a tent. She was so scared and distrustful of services that she wouldn’t come out. 

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“So, I was talking to her from outside the tent. For the first few months, I didn’t know what she looked like. It took a good eight weeks before I actually got to see her face, before she trusted me enough to just let me see her and work with her.”

Hub manager Jackie (centre) speaking at the opening, Credit: Change Grow Live

Carly is in her 50’s and has been on the streets for around 20 years. Through the new hub, she is now in accommodation and aiming to reconnect with her children. She stated: “For so many years I’ve tried to get out of it, but it’s been so hard. All I wanted was to be in touch with my family, again. This is the only service that has actually helped me and treated me like a person.”

Jack Boyton who is the Change Grow Live outreach service lead and the driving force behind the hub said: “It’s unacceptable to be depriving people of their humanity just because they’re going through difficult times. We try to give some comfort, somewhere where people can be safe, clean and not hungry. No judgement, no stigma. It’s important that people know that there is help out there and there is nothing to feel ashamed about.”

The Waltham Forest Rough Sleepers Hub is located at Change Grow Live in Marsham Court, 642 Forest Road.

More information can be found on the Change Grow Live website

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