Parliamentary Undersecretary for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, visits Project Malachi
Today, Heather Wheeler MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Housing and Homelessness, visited Redbridge to discuss the issues the borough is facing with a high number of people sleeping rough. A number of organisations, including The Salvation Army Ilford, were represented at the roundtable meeting with the Minister, Leader of Redbridge Council Cllr Jas Athwal, and Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Farah Hussain.
Following the roundtable, the Minister visited the site for Project Malachi just around the corner from the Town Hall with Captain John Clifton and Cllr Jas Athwal.
Captain Clifton said: "We were delighted that the Minister was able to make time to visit Project Malachi. This ambitious project wouldn't be possible without the partnership work between The Salvation Army Ilford, Cllr Jas Athwal and Redbridge Council. We are glad that the Minister has recognised this powerful collaboration. However, we remain concerned that, despite all our efforts, the rules about people having No Recourse to Public Funds mean we are constantly fighting an uphill battle to help those who are in most desperate need. We are committed to helping the most vulnerable in any situation, and we look forward to further support from the government in achieving our aims."
A really important part of this project has been the support that the community has shown, particularly by the faith communities connected to the sponsoring committee, but also more widely through the volunteers who are involved in the night shelter at The Salvation Army. It's important to understand, though, that this project has been shaped by the listening that we have done to that same community, and also the guests who have stayed at the Salvation Army night shelter over the last 6 years. With this experience, we came to realise that if we really wanted to help the guests in the shelter reach a better standard of living, we needed something more than a night shelter.Read more
We had a fantastic launch event for Project Malachi on the 29th. We were amazed by the response, both from the sponsoring committee and politicians and from the seventy people who came along to support the project and celebrate with us. We also had representatives from local media, who watched us take part in an interactive art project. The image below shows our creation as we 'put our hands together' to create something, in the same way that we are doing for the hostel itself. It was wonderful to be joined by both the currently Leader of the Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, and the previous leader, Cllr Keith Prince, who is now the Assembly Member for Redbridge and Havering.
My Name is Priscilla and I’ll be sharing with you all regular updates on Project Malachi.
I’m sure most of you are aware of this Project and our intentions to house the homeless within the Redbridge community. This week I wanted to share a little about my relation to the project and encourage you all to get involved.
For as long as I’ve been a member of the Ilford Salvation army I’ve always known them to be a corps that is dedicated to a greater cause. They are continually searching and pushing for change within the local community with effects that will hopefully have an impact worldwide.Read more
This week has involved more meetings as we take more steps on this journey to building a pop-up hostel. We have work going on all fronts - the accommodation plan, social enterprise development, legal counsel, land surveys, financial modelling, and more! A big step has been completed on the site at 1a Chadwick Road with the removal of asbestos from the site. The next step is for the power to be fully disconnected before the full demolition can take place. Its steps like these that help us all keep up the momentum - and we were obviously very excited when some hoardings went up, and a sign to notify of the building being brought down by the council!
This week we took the opportunity to visit PLACE Ladywell in Lewisham to learn more about different types of modular buildings. The visit was set up by Keith Prince, the GLA Assembly Member for Redbridge and Havering. Keith has been a strong supporter of Project Malachi and we were glad to take the opportunity to get an insight into the philosophy and quality of this type of modular construction.
Work has now begun on the removal of asbestos from Gilderson and Sons Funeral Parlour, the site chosen for Project Malachi.
As part of the preparation for these demolitions Recycles, our bike recycling social enterprise, organised the donation of 250 bicycles that were being stored in the site. These bikes will be going to 'Bikes to Africa', which looks to provide them to support income opportunities in developing countries. Gilderson and Sons has been a storage site for our Recycles project since 2014.
This site also marks the first meeting of the Salvation Army in Ilford, over 130 years ago. Robert Gilderson, the founder of Gilderson and Sons, was the treasurer to the Salvation Army. With these links going back for over a century, the Salvation Army returning to this site feels very much like a homecoming.
The image is appealing, turning a place of death into a place where lives can begin again. Although different on the surface, there are some things that are similar in both of the uses of this site: Gilderson and Sons provided comfort to people who were suffering through difficult times. They provided a platform from which people could begin to move on, and a chance to reflect on the past.
Project Malachi will give people a chance to reflect, but more importantly a chance to begin again. As Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians:
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.