Canning Town homeless charity brings positive change for residents

Former and current residents pose with a birdbox in the garden at Anchor House in Barking Road, Lond

Former and current residents pose with a birdbox in the garden at Anchor House in Barking Road, London E16. - Credit: Vickie Flores

Hundreds of homeless people from across Newham find themselves desperately seeking shelter every year.

Caritas Anchor House, in Barking Road, provides a room to more than 200 homeless single adults in Newham annually.

The award-winning charity helps residents turn their life around through education, volunteering and development schemes.

However, the charity’s most important tool for change is “happiness and creating a comfortable environment.”

Director, Keith Fernett, took over the Caritas Anchor House ten years ago.

He said: “When I first came in, we were useless, and in the last decade we’ve reinvented the whole charity.

“We’ve won numerous awards and the residents, and staff have become one big team.

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“We want everyone to be happy.”

Through a 2013 Freedom of Information request, it was revealed that there were 17,535 social housing properties in Newham and 24,544 households currently on the waiting list.

From the households on the waiting list, only 5,500 people qualified under statutory duty for temporary accommodation, and there was a 7 to 13 year waiting list for permanent accommodation.

Keith added: “The system here is under a lot of stress. Over the past few years, the borough has suffered many cuts and unfortunately homelessness will only increase.

“The area needs investment in people and the community need to pull together to support others in need.”

In 2014, Caritas Anchor House provided a home and support to 231 homeless individuals,

It supported 63 into employment and helped 71 residents move out and into independent living through programmes focusing on employment, education and training.

Shane Carroll, 26, who is a current resident, said: “Once you get here, you can start doing volunteering right away.

“It really helps people who are homeless, you make new friends, you work on projects, it’s like a community and you have a chance to rebuild your life.”

Keith added: “We are one of the national hotspots in homelessness and what we are trying to do is not only give shelter but change lives.

“We do everything with a positive outlook because that is the only way up.

“When people first come in, they’ve already been through enough, so we want them to see this as the start of a new life.”