The Here to Help service in Havering is a free service offering people support to develop their skills to live independently.

Staff provides a range of guidance and support to help customers feel more confident and achieve the things that are most important to them. This could be helping managing a home, paying rent and dealing with tenancy issues, help with money and budgeting or support to manage health issues.

Staff also found that they often needed to help their customers set up home following a move from a hostel or refuge. In cases like this, customers had nothing to bring to a new home and didn’t have the funds to pay for everything they needed.

So, staff set up the Garage Project which asks for donations from the local community of anything from a sofa or bed to pots and pans. The project was supported by the Borough of Havering who donated two rent free garages for storage and the service was also given an old van which is used for collections and deliveries.

Recently a local businessman, Mr Clarke, heard about the project and was really impressed. Mr Clarke has lived in Havering all his life and has run his own furniture and carpet business in area for 50 years. To celebrate this milestone he decided he wanted to give something back to local residents on low incomes.

As a result he has made the incredibly generous donation of £2,000 (£500 a week) per month to families in need of carpets and furniture to set up a new home. If families don’t need the full £500, it can be shared between several families.

Not only is he donating financially, but Mr Clarke also takes time to meet every family that the service nominates for support and even helps deliver the goods to them. This is an amazingly generous offer and one which is helping lots of families in real need.

Some of the families that have been helped have been incredibly grateful, with one commenting:

He is an angel. You don’t hear of people just giving because they can and I am grateful I was put forward for this project, thank you.

Trudy Bettinelli, Floating Support Officer for the Here to Help service, helps administer the donations:

When I met Mr Clarke I could see he wanted to help people of Havering who had less than he had. He said it was his 50 year anniversary of his business in Havering and wanted to celebrate it with something worthwhile – which this certainly is! We are so grateful for this support to help local people who are struggling to manage on a low income.

For more information about the Here to Help service, click here.