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Queen’s Birthday Honours: Redbridge woman at Newham Council honoured for turning rough sleepers’ lives around

PUBLISHED: 12:01 12 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:17 12 October 2020

Ajitha Sajeev from Redbridge has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her work with the homeless and rough sleepers in Newham.
 Picture: Andrew Baker

Ajitha Sajeev from Redbridge has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her work with the homeless and rough sleepers in Newham. Picture: Andrew Baker

© 2020 Andrew Baker studio@andrewbakerphotographer.com

A woman has been honoured for helping rough sleepers get off the streets.

Ajitha Sajeev from Redbridge, who is street population manager at Newham Coucil, is to receive the British Empire Medal after being named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Mum of two, Ajitha, said: “I am so proud and deeply humbled by this honour, but this work is all about the team and treating people with the dignity, respect, care and compassion they deserve when they are at their most vulnerable.

“This has never been truer than now with the extra health risks, and anxieties and fear that Covid-19 has brought.”

During the pandemic, Ajitha co-ordinated efforts across council services, the faith, charity and voluntary sectors to help hundreds of people into safer accommodation.

Before the pandemic struck, Ajitha and her colleagues had already done a lot of work through the Mayor of Newham’s rough sleeping task force to get people off the streets and out of tents.

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When Covid-19 came the problems became more acute with the closure of the Stratford Centre for public health reasons.

As a result many rough sleepers were displaced from the shopping mall which had become a place where homeless people would bed down for the night.

“Today I am proud to say we have no more tents, and no-one beds down in the mall,” Ajitha, 52, said.

“It makes me very proud, and quite emotional when I see some of the people we have helped, some of whom have been sleeping rough for years resisting efforts to get them off the streets. We’ve genuinely seen lives turned around,” she added.

Ajitha was born in Singapore then moved from India aged seven with her family to set up home in East Ham.

She began working with the town hall aged 22 at the suggestion of her mother and has stayed ever since, working in translation services, housing and the street homeless team.

Newham chief executive Althea Loderick and director of adult social services, Colin Ansell, said: “We are very proud of Ajitha and delighted that her fantastic work has been recognised and rewarded.

“After 30-years at Newham Council she truly deserves this honour.”


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