Shoreditch Church becomes healthcheck clinic and clothes store for homeless, ready for winter

PUBLISHED: 15:32 29 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:32 29 October 2015

Crypt Trust manager Sonia Rai and volunteer Fe' Peipes set up helthcheck day for homeless at Shoreditch Church

Crypt Trust manager Sonia Rai and volunteer Fe' Peipes set up helthcheck day for homeless at Shoreditch Church


A health ‘MOT’ day has been running for the homeless in east London today with free medical checks and even giving haircuts.

Clothes have also been handed out such as coats, jumpers, socks and hats to keep the cold out during the coming winter months.

It's a snip... free haircut It's a snip... free haircut

Volunteers began the operation this-morning at east London’s historic Shoreditch Church to mark the 50th anniversary of the Spitalfields Crypt Trust set up in 1965 by a rector who found a homeless man dying on church steps.

Medics today have been looking for any signs of TB and checking heart rates among people living on the streets while dentists have been looking at their dental health.

“This shows up any problems now, so that we can keep an eye on these people when winter sets in properly,” the charity’s Gary Davidge said. “The weather’s changing and it’s going to get harder to keep warm and dry—that means more health problems for London’s homeless.”

Those without a roof over their head have also been kitted out with winter clothes.

Just the ticket... clothes off the peg at Shoreditch Church Just the ticket... clothes off the peg at Shoreditch Church

The charity has been running a ‘drop in’ service with food and advice since 1965, originally at Spitalfields Christ Church, now moved to Acorn House at St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch High Street where 160 people are being helped on average every week.

Chief executive Graham Marshall said: “There still remains a persistent need 50 years on to help people through periods of addiction and homelessness.”

The charity was born out of tragedy on a cold night in 1965, when Spitalfields Rector Dennis Downham found a homeless man dying on his church steps. It led him to opened the Crypt as a shelter that November.

Today, the trust he set up still provides practical help, support and training to people who have been homeless and suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, with its drop-in rehabilitation hostel and a personal development and training centre.

Selecting clothes for winter at Shoreditch Church Selecting clothes for winter at Shoreditch Church

The Crypt Trust, which depends on public donations to fill the gaps in funding, has started a public appeal for spare coats, jumpers and socks in good condition to be dropped off at its charity shops in Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Bow, Shadwell, Poplar, Canning Town and Leytonstone.

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