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Annual Report 2015


7581 16% 42% 45% 10% THIS IS WHY WE’RE NEEDED 2

PEOPLE WERE SEEN ROUGH SLEEPING IN LONDON IN 2014/15 MORE THAN IN THE YEARS 2013/14 HAD BEEN IN PRIVATE RENTED ACCOMMODATION HAD MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES HAD BEEN IN CARE These statistics are just for the people who were found rough sleeping. It doesn’t include all the night bus riders, squatters, vulnerably housed and so on.

82% 58% 44% 20% 60%

OF NLAH SERVICE USERS ARE UNEMPLOYED HAVE A LONGTERM ILLNESS OR DISABILITY HAVE A PROBLEM WITH DRUGS OR ALCOHOL ARE CURRENTLY ROUGH SLEEPING HAVE BEEN HOMELESS IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS In 2015, the total number of homeless families living in temporary accommodation in England reached 50,750, the highest since 2008.

Statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government, CHAIN Greater London report 2014–15 and NLAH’s service user survey

The loss of a private tenancy is the single biggest cause of homelessness. Over 16,210 households became homeless after being evicted from a privately rented home in the last twelve months, three times as many households as five years ago.



North London Action for the Homeless is now in its 22nd year, having been generously hosted by a synagogue, a Catholic church and now an Anglican church: St Paul’s West Hackney. Some of the founders of NLAH are still on the committee, and many of our volunteers have made very long term commitments. We salute them!

North London Action for the Homeless (NLAH) believes that there are many people in our society who, through poverty, homelessness and other difficulties, are deprived of their basic rights and needs. We therefore run a drop-in centre open to all who are homeless or in need, providing healthy vegetarian food in a welcoming and friendly environment. We run two sessions a week during which we provide a hot three-course sit-down meal for 50–100 people, as well as haircuts, health checks and clothing. During the sessions, advice and support is offered by outreach workers from other agencies. We have a fantastic – and award-winning – gardening project run by our garden manager and chef Lucie Galand that involves service users in growing the vegetables that contribute to the meals.

The sessions operate with an ethos of service, respect and acceptance, and are operated by our manager Mike Tomes in conjunction with Lucie and Eastern Europe outreach worker Radu Morar Rucarian. Our aim is to advance the physical and mental health well-being of our service users, and I’d like to credit Mike, Lucie and Radu for making NLAH the uniquely warm organisation it is – and to thank our volunteers, without whom the sessions couldn’t run.

NLAH is a registered charity, number 1139024. In 2014-15 the trustees of the charity were Bill Rashleigh (Chair), Craig Duncan (Treasurer), Anne Goldstein (Secretary), Mark Palframan (Vice-Chair) and Dr Sue Collinson. Full financial details are available in the accounts but in 2014-15 NLAH received £35,514 and spent £55,689, ending the year with £24,186.

We hope you’ll enjoy finding out more about what makes the charity tick. Bill Rashleigh Chair, North London Action for the Homeless



‘I have been coming to NLAH for nearly eight years. The food is good and people are close – it feels like family. The volunteers are very friendly. Things are stressful, but when I work in the garden I relax, and the stress goes.’ Maria is a Polish service user who loves helping with the Evering Road Garden Project. Her words are translated by Mariusz.

‘We wanted to have service users on the committee at NLAH because we are more plugged into difficulties and tensions. NLAH is small and independent, and deep local roots are its strength. It’s a fantastic charity, and I’m proud of my connection with it.’ Grant has been a service user representative at NLAH for six years; he has lived in Hackney for 20 years.

‘A friend told me about the service at NLAH. I’m a proud person so I didn’t want to ask for help, but we all need help sometimes. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. You get restaurant service here, and a one-to-one approach that you don’t find on the street. It breaks down boundaries. People just need someone to talk to.’ Michael was born in London and raised in New York. He has been coming to NLAH for a year.



The Evering Road Garden Project has become a key part of the work at NLAH. This beautiful urban garden sits right outside the drop-in, and its produce helps keep the charity supplied with organic goodness year-round.

Lucie Galand is the cook at NLAH – she maintains the garden and runs regular gardening sessions on Saturdays with service users, developing the raised beds and growing a wide range of herbs and vegetables. These are used in the soups, main courses and salads served at the drop-in sessions, as well as in the Patchwork Preserves which are sold to raise funds for the project. A series of regular garden parties are also organised, when the wider community is invited to enjoy the garden with music, tea and cakes. Seeds and plants from the garden are sold at the open days, and at markets and festival stalls, and the garden supplies fresh mint to Growing Communities’ Farmer’s Market for tea.

The garden is part of NLAH’s initiative to help reduce food poverty in Hackney and is supported by the City of London Corporation’s charity, City Bridge Trust. Groups suffering from food poverty include those with addiction problems and/or substance misuse issues who are unable to budget to ensure they eat properly. Others have disabilities and/or mental health issues, or simply lack the basic life skills required to access and prepare food themselves. Finding good food and cooking facilities is also difficult for those who are rough sleeping, sofa surfing or living in derelict buildings.



‘I started volunteering when I retired, to give me something to do! As I chop the vegetables I love discussing books, film and theatre with the other volunteers. The soup we serve is outstanding. The cook never knows what ingredients will have been donated, so she has to make it up, and she never measures a thing. My goal is to avoid washing up: I prefer being out on the floor, serving food and interacting with our service users.’ Jimmy has been a volunteer at NLAH for nearly three years. He works for the charity on a Monday, helping prepare and serve food.


‘It all started with my father’s coat. I inherited it, and wanted to pass it on as a legacy. I try to respond to specific needs – we’re always short of boxer shorts and coats. Now people know I’m looking for clothes I get texts when they’re left on the street. I wash nearly everything, mend pockets and sew on buttons. I used to work outside a lot as a sound recordist, and I feel for people in the cold weather.’ Diana collects clothes, and gives them to service users. This is her personal project, and it’s especially valuable in the winter months.

‘We are based in the Old Fire Station in Stoke Newington, just up the road from the NLAH drop-in. The Fire Station is a collection point for members of our veg scheme, and if bags sit uncollected we donate them to NLAH. It’s usually five to ten bags a week, and we’ve been making donations for five years. We run the Farmers’ Market every Saturday at St Paul’s, where NLAH is based – several of our stall holders give unsold food to the charity at the end of the day. We believe in giving more people access to great organic local produce, and it’s a pleasure to share with this fantastic organisation.’ Richenda works for Growing Communities, which runs Hackney’s local fruit and veg scheme. Growing Communities is one of the nearby businesses who regularly donate food to NLAH.

‘A haircut gives a feeling of self-esteem, and a feeling of being looked after for half an hour. It’s a bit of touch… a bit of care. I find it very rewarding – I get as much out of it as anyone else.’ Bron is a singer and writer who cuts hair for service users during the drop-in.



North London Action for the Homeless provides twice weekly drop-in services and support for homeless and vulnerable people. Between 50 and 100 people attend each session, with about 400 different individuals benefiting from the service every year.

Sessions are attended by outreach drug workers, street outreach workers and health services who provide a range of advice and referrals, particularly assisting service users to find accommodation. Twenty service users have participated in the Evering Road Garden Project, learning new skills, reducing their drinking, and improving their health and general well being.

NLAH has a huge bank of local volunteers, with about forty helping at the sessions on a regular basis.

NLAH has a good record of diversity. It began in a synagogue, and the food has always been vegetarian, ensuring that it is acceptable for people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. Volunteers speak a wide range of languages, and people from all backgrounds are welcomed. NLAH is reducing its carbon footprint. We recently purchased a bike trailer to collect the food donated by nearby businesses. All the gardening is organic, and we have become a Local Authority Composting Champion.


Donate food Donations of food help us prepare delicious and satisfying three-course vegetarian meals on Mondays and Wednesdays. We love to receive quality, fresh ingredients as well as tinned food. In particular, we need coffee, tea, sugar, squash, oil, long-life milk, vegetable stock, tinned tomatoes, pasta and lentils. Whether you’re a local business who wants to save on waste, or an individual clearing the cupboards of unwanted (but still in date!) tinned vegetarian food, please contact us. Donate clothing and sleeping bags We are happy to accept quality, practical clothing and sleeping bags. In winter, we need jumpers, coats, shoes, jeans and trousers. In summer we require T-shirts and light clothing. All year round there’s a need for underwear and socks.


Provide transport We always need volunteers with a car or van to help pick up supplies of food and clothing. Volunteer Tasks include chopping vegetables, buttering bread, putting out tables and chairs and serving food to the clients. Also helping wash up, spending time with service users during the sessions, cleaning the hall and tidying everything away at the end. Fundraise We are continually looking for new sources of funding. Though our overheads are relatively small, we do not receive government funding and we rely on donations to keep going. If you have any experience of fundraising, ideas for new initiatives or can offer us assistance in any way, we’d love to hear from you. Online donations or direct debit can be set up via our website and are greatly appreciated.

NLAH would like to give sincere thanks to the following: Grants for 2014–15 came from City Bridge Trust; Comic Relief; Irish Government Emigrant Support Programme; Stoke Newington Relief in Need Fund and StreetSmart. Growing Communities for food and support and Wholefoods for food, Sarah Greens for food and clothes and St Paul’s West Hackney for continuing help.

Akdeniz Bakery for food donations; Alex at Kauri Tree for fundraising support; Belle Époque for cake donations; Bron (hairdresser); Butchies for food donations; Challah for Hunger for fundraising; Diana for clothes donations; Francis Holland School for harvest donation; Hackney Community College for volunteering and money donation; Hanoi Kitchen for food donations; International Community School pupils for volunteering; Joyce at Castle Gibson for regular toiletry and food donations and offering the venue for fundraisers; Kauri Tree for their venue for a fundraiser; Morven Mulgrew from Cast Iron Kitchen for food donations; Ohio State University for volunteering; Ricardo (hairdresser); Spence Bakery for food donation; St Mary’s Church, N16 for money donation; St Scholastica School for harvest donations; Stella at The Bagel House for food donations; Stoke Newington Baptist Church for money donation; Stoke Newington School for volunteers and Unitarian Church for money donation.


If you have a general question for us or can donate, volunteer or help North London Action for the Homeless in any way, we’d love to hear from you.


Our kitchen opens twice a week: Monday lunch noon–1.30pm, and Wednesday supper 7.00–8.30pm Please email Mike Tomes at North London Action for the Homeless St Paul’s Church Hall Stoke Newington Road London N16 7UE Telephone 07745 227135

NLAH annual report 2015  

North London Action for the Homeless is now in its 22nd year, having been generously hosted by a synagogue, a Catholic church and now an Ang...

NLAH annual report 2015  

North London Action for the Homeless is now in its 22nd year, having been generously hosted by a synagogue, a Catholic church and now an Ang...