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£5m homeless centre began with Malachi’s tooth fairy fiver

A brand new five-million-pound centre to help tackle homelessness in Ilford, East London, has opened its doors to help those in need of a roof over their heads. And it all began with £5 five-year-old Malachi Justin received when his first baby tooth fell out.

Project Malachi is a joint venture funded to the tune of £5 million by The Salvation Army and Redbridge Council. The building is made up of 42 self-contained flats, finished and decorated to provide safe and comfortable homes.

It has been named Malachi Place in recognition of Malachi Justin, a 10-year-old boy who became concerned about people sleeping rough in Ilford. When his first baby tooth fell out at the age of five-years-old, Malachi gave his £5 tooth fairy money to the local Salvation Army, along with a note asking them to spend it on helping homeless people.

Five years later, this little boy's dream of a better future for rough sleepers is a reality with the opening of new pioneering homeless complex on Monday 24 February.

Starting with the tooth fairy money, a further £350,000 was raised from local fundraising and charitable trusts. The Salvation Army topped that up to £2.5 million in funding and running costs for the next five years. Redbridge Council provided the land free of charge and funded a further £2.5m to pay for construction.

At least 15 people have died while being street homeless in Ilford over the past three years. All of these people were known to The Salvation Army and had used the existing night shelter based in The Salvation Army hall. Across the country, rough sleeping has increased by 165% in the last 10 years.

Captain Dr John Clifton, The Salvation Army’s leader in Ilford, said: “Malachi’s donation and note really challenged us to do more for the people forced to sleep rough in Ilford. For many years we have offered emergency shelter to Ilford’s street community and while we could offer food and shelter we knew it wasn’t enough.

“People end up sleeping rough for lots of complex reasons and it could be anything from job loss or poor health to addiction. Malachi gave us the focus to think about how we could build homes and provide support to get residents back to independent living.

“It is our ambition to see it replicated in other parts of the country. If Malachi can start this from just £5, others can follow his path. We are also grateful to Redbridge Council who paid the construction costs.”

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