Image of some homeless people receiving prayer support, counselling and food at Redbridge Community Fayre, organised by BACA.
For a while BACA have been planning to begin a regular feeding centre for the homeless of Ilford at our community centre. Plans have been thwarted due to a paucity of funds and suitable volunteers but we seem to have made some headway this year and are planning to begin the programme next Thursday.
BACA first became aware of the major homelessness issue in Redbridge while organising the first Redbridge Easter Parade back in 2009. While running the multi-church event in Ilford Town Centre we became acutely aware of the large number of makeshift beds around our pedestrianised centre and came face to face with many homeless people who sought counsel, prayer and food.
During our ‘Friendship Centre’ outreach events in Ilford Town Centre last year (click here) we fed, counselled and prayed with many regular homeless friends and were able to direct some to pathways for longer term support with other local charities such as the Welcome Centre, Salvation Army and High Road Baptist Church. During that time a desire to provide more direct support grew within our trustees, volunteers and members.
Now working with local partners the Welcome Centre, High Road Baptist Church and our own volunteer team we hope to attend to a small handful of visitors at a trial session on Thursday. The feeding event will be based at our community centre located at 14a Connaught Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1RN. If all things work out we would make this facility a monthly or fortnightly effort which may increase to a weekly programme over a period of time.
Offers for preparing food have already come in and one local Tesco Manager has agreed to provide some free food supplies from his store. The local manager who is a regular volunteer for BACA, has also put us in touch with a Tesco’s head office department that provides larger scale support for homeless feeding projects and we are hopeful of success with a submitted application.
We have been advised that most of the local homeless feeding centres in Ilford provide Asian food, which may not be that surprising considering the local demographic. This has apparently has resulted in some complaints from local homeless people. BACA is therefore going to offer food of both western and eastern culinary traditions to provide wider choice for some of the homeless who desire a change of palate. Fortunately our diverse volunteer base means we are able to cater for this need.
If you live in or around Ilford and are able to provide any physical assistance please do get in contact.
If you would like to donate towards the costs of running the project and want to help BACA make this project a long term, benefit for local homeless people please donate by (clicking here).