Allchurches’ grant supports ‘Tooth Fairy wish’ to end homelessness

Project Malachi grew out of the generosity of an eight-year old boy, who sent his £5 tooth fairy money to The Salvation Army in Ilford, East London, and asked them to use it to build homes for the homeless.

The boy’s name is Malachi and he is now proudly watching his dream come to life as the construction work has begun on a pop-up hostel made of 42 converted shipping containers, which will fundamentally change the lives of homeless people in Ilford, many of whom have no recourse to public funds.

Led by The Salvation Army, with a sponsoring committee of local Christian, Muslim and Sikh faith leaders and the Redbridge Council, this innovative and inspiring multi-faith project is the first of its kind in the country. It is being supported by a £24,000 Allchurches Trust grant.

It is a model that, it is hoped, can be replicated elsewhere to deal fundamentally with the underlying issues of the most entrenched rough sleepers in our communities and change our communities’ response to homelessness.

The innovative hostel and workshop has 42 self-contained studio flats, each a converted shipping container, stacked into a temporary three-storey building, sited on land provided for five years by Redbridge Council. If the site cannot be used beyond five years, the hostel is able to be dismantled and moved to a new location.

Interestingly, Project Malachi is located on the same site, 1a Chadwick Road, which hosted the first ever meeting of The Salvation Army in Ilford on 5 March, 1886, in the rooms above the funeral home that existed there for more than a hundred years.

Ilford is in the East London Borough of Redbridge, which has the third highest rate of rough sleepers in London, and the eighth highest in the country. Based on the last count in 2017, there were 60 rough sleepers in Redbridge, of which 42 people had ‘no recourse to public funds’ (meaning they cannot access state support to move on from the street). Some 36 of these 42 people have been sleeping on the street for more than two years.

The Salvation Army Ilford has received more and more homeless guests into its winter night shelter each year over the past six years. Sadly, in November 2017, three repeat guests passed away as a result of health complications associated with long-term rough sleeping. All three would have been likely residents in the new Project Malachi hostel; their sad loss giving all involved in the project more resolve to bring it to fruition as soon as possible.

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Captain Dr John Clifton of The Salvation Army, Ilford, said: “The trauma to a person from extended rough sleeping is so severe that they literally lose the capacity to make decisions about their life. After years of rough sleeping, a person’s brain becomes trained to think in an incredibly short-term way. There is no point asking someone how they want to change their future when their brain is quite literally only able to think about the next 10 minutes or focus on where their next meal is coming from.

“Project Malachi is a real attempt to provide a more stable setting for entrenched rough sleepers so that their brains and bodies can recover from the trauma of long-term sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, lack of safety and other basic needs. This project is based on our learning and experience from thousands of conversations between staff, volunteers and our winter shelter guests over the last 6 years.”

Project Malachi is the first project to target rough sleepers who have no recourse to public funds in this way. Residents will stay for around six months and, during that time, will receive individual support each week, employment experience and accredited training in the on-site social enterprise workshop, Re-cycles. For those seeking asylum or leave to remain in the UK, there will be specialist support to assist them through the complex legal processes.

Within a stable living situation that offers safety, rest, space and support, residents will be encouraged and supported to make informed decisions about their future and choices, with the much needed resources to begin doing so: moving into employment to enable self-sufficiency; reconnecting to their country of origin and/or gaining leave to remain or naturalisation; and becoming eligible for support in mainstream society. Residents will be provided with post-residential support after they leave Project Malachi and pastoral support throughout their residency.

Allchurches Trust is proud to be funding the fit-out and furnishing of Project Malachi’s 42 studio flats for homeless people, which will be ready to move into before the coming winter. During the development of Project Malachi, the Salvation Army’s winter night shelter and Re-cycles social enterprise have remained open to guests, with continued support from more than 150 volunteers.

Project-malachi-1.jpg#asset:1163Malachi (who gave the first £5) with Mindaugus Peculionis (Salvation Army volunteer) visiting the sample accommodation unit