Men sleeping rough offered sanctuary and support

9 April 2019

People who found themselves homeless this winter have been welcomed at night shelters across Brent.

Brent Shelter of Sanctuary is a winter night shelter aimed at providing men with a roof over their heads and offering them dinner, breakfast, hospitality and support to move back into stable accommodation.

The project is led by Brent Multi-faith Forum with support and funding from Housing Justice in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA). Brent Council has provided match funding for the casework in the project.

"Brent Multi Faith Forum is incredibly proud to have united local faith communities, to open their doors to some of the most vulnerable members of our society," said Tahseen Mehar, project coordinator from Brent's Shelter of Sanctuary. "We have welcomed men from all walks of life. Our youngest shelter guest is 24 and our eldest is in their 60s. We call them our guests because we're about friendship, hospitality and welcoming those from outside in. Our volunteers help to restore the dignity of guests, by eating dinner together and spending time with them."

Men are referred to the project by agencies such as St Mungo's and Ashford Place. They are offered beds and food in host venues across the borough. Churches, mosques and a council youth centre have opened their doors to the men every night over a ten-week period.
During the day the men are helped by a case worker who enables them to explore their housing options through St Mungo's, Brent Housing Needs, Brent's Single Homeless Prevention Service (SHPS) and other routes.

Chair of the Brent Multi Faith Forum, Revd Leao Neto, said: "This shelter of sanctuary is a dream come true for the Brent Multi-Faith Forum; the opportunity to be able to offer that kind of relationship to those in need."

James Luckhoo, catalyst worker for Housing Justice, said: "The shelter opened its doors at the end of January. Since then, about a third of the men have moved on into accommodation and another third have options open to them. The staff and volunteers will do everything they can to support all guests into accommodation by the end of the project."

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, visited the sanctuary. "The sanctuary is a welcoming, warm and safe place for people to stay during this difficult time in their lives," she said. "The project is a great example of local organisations working together and I want to thank everyone for the time and support they have given. The support has been vital for many of the guests and I'd like to see us build on this in the future."

VIDEO of sanctuary here