Homeless help charity faces storage crisis

Estate regeneration work will see the demolition of sheds used by One Big Family volunteers

Friday, 2nd August 2019 — By Briony Pickford

Michael Smith

Michael Smith: at work checking supplies for the hungry and homeless

SHEDS used to store furniture, clothing, food and sanitary products for a homeless project are to be bulldozed as part of one of the biggest regeneration schemes in Westminster.

One Big Family – Helping the Homeless says the demolition of Ebury Bridge estate in Pimlico has left the charity without storage facilities to continue its important work.

The Ebury Bridge Renewal scheme is one of the biggest council housing projects with plans to build 342 new affordable homes.

The ‘“pram sheds” are also used as a storage facility for a food bank.

Michael Smith, 54, a resident of the estate since 1986 who has been running the One Big Family for three years, was recently recognised with an award from Westminster Council for Voluntary Contribution to the Community.

He said: “The council verbally confirmed they will provide a storage container but its not going to be the size we need.

The old ‘pram sheds’ on the Ebury Bridge estate

“We have four sheds full of furniture, clothing, children’s clothing, toiletries, and tinned, frozen and fresh food. We need somewhere that is secure and dry.”

One Big Family is a charity that supports the homeless and vulnerable, said Mr Smith, who added: “We physically walk the streets to find those in need of a hot cup of tea, something to eat, a warm blanket or a chat.

“It is a humbling experience and helps to bring to light that the precarious situation of homelessness can happen to almost anyone.”

A former member of a committee that tried to help the council with its botched regeneration of Ebury estate in 2012, Mr Smith said: “The parents with children were told they would be given a studio or one-bed flat but then a week later the committee sent out a letter saying they actually couldn’t do that.

“That’s a lot of families disappointed.”

A council spokesman said: “We fully support the excellent work Mr Smith and the charity [One Big Family – Helping the Homeless] does, and recently recognised this with a community award.

“We’ve reassured him that we’ll continue to support the charity, making sure it has storage space it needs.”

One Big Family are still looking for storage space so they can continue their work on the same scale, please contact mike@helpingthehomeless.org.uk if you can help.

Related Articles