09:34 29 May 2022
A homeless charity based in Crouch End has won two national awards for its work on behalf of the homeless in North London.
London’s homeless social care team has been honored at the Markel Third Sector Care Awards, receiving the Sector Development Award and the Make a Difference Award.
The charity was founded in 2020 by Jorawar Singh Rathour and provides clothing, food, hygiene kits and mental health supplies to homeless people in north London through outreach programmes.
The 44-year-old said: ‘While going out to deliver food directly to homeless people, we meet many who would never have come to us if we hadn’t gone to them.
“It could be for many reasons, maybe they’re drunk or they don’t want to be in contact with anyone, or they’ve just lost hope. We give them that hope.
Crouch End-based Jorawar has experienced homelessness himself, having lived on the streets for 22 weeks after his divorce.
“It was November and it was a lonely and terrifying time,” he said. “When I look back it’s actually very surreal and like it didn’t actually happen, like it was just a bad dream.”
Having to deal with the cold and uncertainty, Jorawar took up drinking and was only saved when his family found him and took him to rehab.
He said: “I’m still recovering, but I was one of the lucky ones. Guys on the street can become your family and I felt a little guilty getting back on my feet. It was as if I had left them behind me.
So instead of resuming his old role as a maintenance contractor, Jorawar became a licensed psychotherapist in 2019 to help others with addictions.
On New Years Day 2020, he launched his own charity, starting with an outreach program in Finsbury Park to provide homeless people with basic foodstuffs like coffees and sandwiches.
Then, during the pandemic, the London Homeless Welfare Team was one of the first organizations in the UK to set up an initiative distributing hygiene packs to homeless people to help them protect themselves against coronavirus.
Most of the charity’s volunteers are mental health first aiders and Jorawar is a trained naloxone responder, which means he can administer injections of medication when someone has a drug overdose.
For volunteer Amrita Kaur, ensuring the mental well-being of homeless people is a priority.
The 31-year-old said: ‘It’s not always about the shelter, it’s not always about the money and a lot of times it’s just about interacting with them and making them feel heard.
“I want anyone who walks past someone who is homeless to just say ‘hello’ or ‘hello’ because it just makes their day knowing there’s an interaction there for them.”
Amrita has worked with the charity since the beginning and is now heavily involved in outreach programs.
The South Tottenham sales associate said: “I love that it’s so personal, it’s not just that we give the money but we can actually see where it’s going and come out physically and look for people.
“Sometimes they don’t need anything and don’t accept anything, but they are so happy that we recognized them and spoke to them.”
In recent months, the London Homeless Welfare Team has stepped up its efforts to provide for those affected by the rising cost of living.
Currently run by just six dedicated members, the charity hopes to expand its support arrangements to Islington, Haringey, Hackney and Waltham Forest.
It has partnered with Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, which supply it with excess food stocks and secured several smaller funds.
To offset the remaining cost, the charity has set up a crowdfunding scheme and hopes to hit its £10,000 target soon.
Jorawar said, “It’s quite a personal thing for me because I want to make sure I give something back to the community and I have a very specific skill set that allows me to do that.
“Gaining the trust of anyone on the streets is very, very difficult, so when I can tell them that I’ve been a drug addict, that I’ve been homeless, they want to know more.
“I want to share this experience with other people.”
To donate to the London Homeless Welfare Team, go to gofund.me/cbe3340c