As the autumn nights draw in, the summer heatwave seems a distant memory. But during those days when the temperatures soared higher and higher the HAB centre had never been busier.

Centre Co-ordinator Olamide Adetunji recalls:

“We extended our hours so that we could stay open longer to offer people somewhere to come indoors out of the sun. We were also able to offer bottles of water that were donated to us, as well as having a water cooler to ensure our clients stayed hydrated in the heat.”

What else has happened since the spring? The centre is now offering a new service – advice.

Olamide says: “When clients move on from living on the streets it may be the first time they have had to deal with budgeting – paying gas and electricity bills, for example. Our aim is to help them make what money they have stretch as far as possible.”

The Centre is also holding a series of Health Fairs, the first of which took place on October 4. Olamide says: “It was a chance for our homeless and housed clients, both past and present, to come to the centre for a health check covering things such as height, weight and blood pressure.

“The NHS offered Covid jabs and boosters, and a health and social care charity Change Grow Live offered blood-borne virus checks to our clients. Someone was offering free haircuts and Public Health Barnet were supporting clients with Covid testing.

“It was very rewarding having everyone in the centre working towards the same goal: ensuring that our clients and those in need had access to the basic right of accessing health care when it’s most needed.

“It demonstrated just how well we all work together and we would like to add a special thanks to everyone who helped make the first Health Fair such a success.”

A second Health Fair took place on November 1. This time flu jabs and smoking cessation advice were also on offer.

It has also been a busy time for HAB’s supported accommodation projects. Projects co-ordinator Sonya Levin says: “Our weekly in-house Department for Work and Pensions surgery is now well-established.

“And we have been laying the groundwork for some creative arts and wellbeing workshops.

“These tailored small group sessions will provide clients with the opportunity to explore a range of activities in a safe and supportive environment.” 

Yoga classes will be led by HAB volunteer Frida while the art sessions will be conducted by Sonya herself, who has researched the beneficial effects of art psychotherapy and has a history of leading art groups for a wide range of clients.

She adds: “A weekly music workshop will be held by our wonderful support worker Frederick, who is also a professional musician. He already has his selection of Djembe drums at the ready as well as a host of authentic African instruments. 

“We just hope the neighbours are ready too!”