Homeless drop-in behind Europe’s busiest shopping street shows Baroness how it’s combatting isolation in the community

published on 21 Nov 2014

Baroness Olly Grender MBE of Kingston upon Thames visited a West End project that aims to help homeless and isolated people find a place in their community and prevent them from spiralling into addiction.

At No 10 on Princes Street, London, people experiencing street homelessness and isolation find support, make friends and find hope.

Heidi Soljava-Duprat is the service manager at the centre. She said: ‘The Salvation Army is dedicated to supporting people who are vulnerable in the community and is always ready to offer compassionate support and practical help. At the No 10 centre, people can find a safe space in London to find help and relax away from the stresses of street life or the isolation of where they live, and be enabled to move on.’

The centre opens from Monday to Wednesday and Fridays between 10 am and 4 pm (Thursdays, 10 am till noon) and is linked to the only church on Oxford Street – Regent Hall Salvation Army. Visitors can join in weekly activities or receive one-to-one support from keyworkers.

The project works with Regent Hall to enable community integration. Most recently three No 10 guests joined the church’s community gospel choir – opened to provide a community hub in London for those who live and work in the area.

People like Ian receive support at No 10. Ian is in his late fifties and found it very hard to cope without his beloved wife when she was placed in a care home. He visited her regularly but struggled with paying bills and came to No 10 after being evicted and sleeping rough.

No 10 made an emergency referral to No Second Night Out. Ian was assessed and placed into a hostel.

Ian remains in contact with No 10, attending various activities and keeping the team up to date with his news. There are plans for him to move into a flat adjacent to the care home where his wife is residing.

Heidi said: ‘As a social group, a lot of our visitors are very isolated. While some might have accommodation, they might not yet have found their place in the community. By providing a friendly welcome at No 10, people have somewhere they can visit, and something they can look forward to. Life can be tough for those coming off drink and drugs; street life can be hard too so No 10 is not only able to offer practical support but also ensure they have something fun to occupy their minds, too.’

Lady Grender said: ‘Today I have heard the experiences of those who have faced homelessness. They have told me what it means to them to find comfort, support and practical assistance, and to be empowered to make choices about their lives, even after losing hope.

‘It has been inspiring to see first-hand the way The Salvation Army is offering assistance to those most in need and the way that it is working to ensure no one need be isolated in their community.’