Thames Reach supports vulnerable people to help prevent them from becoming homeless. Reporter KELLY SMALE met with Lewisham service users to find out how the charity has improved their lives.

LEWISHAM Reach, in Brownhill Road, Catford, is a free support service for people aged over 21.

Staff and volunteers work with rough sleepers as well as going into people’s homes to help get their lives back on track.

The charity offers help to people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems while also helping people fill out housing forms and giving advice on training and work.

Drop-in sessions are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am to 1pm with a themed session from 5pm to 8pm on Thursday evenings.

Appointments can also be made with the service, which is funded by Lewisham Council’s supporting people scheme.

For information, visit or call 0808 168 0710.

If you are concerned about a homeless person on the street, call Thames Reach street rescue, on 0870 383 3333.

Volunteer and ex-service user

News Shopper: Michael Serriter Michael Serriter is an ex-service user who volunteers as a receptionist.

He was homeless for three-and-a-half months before staying in a Thames Reach hostel from 2004 to 2009.

The 47-year-old moved into his own flat in April last year.

Mr Serriter said: “They really supported me through the good and the bad times.

“When I went into independent living I was supported by the resettlement team for three months.

“It’s not just a case of ‘there’s the keys’. They help you through every stage.”

Mr Serriter has been volunteering since May.

He said: “I’m looking to go back into work and I wanted something to fill the gap so it doesn’t look like I haven’t done anything.

“I also feel Thames Reach has supported me so I wanted to give something back.”

Service user

News Shopper: Kim Spicer Kim Spicer has been using Lewisham Reach for a year-and-a-half.

She was referred to the service by Lewisham Council’s homeless persons unit after having problems with her private landlord.

Mrs Spicer said: “I wasn’t on top with housekeeping. I was in despair.

“I was so low I couldn’t even look people in the eye. Everyone I turned to didn’t have the time for me. I needed someone to speak up for me and be my voice.”

Support workers helped Mrs Spicer with her CV, gave her interview tips, planned how she was going to pay the bills and helped her apply for a grant for furniture.

The mother-of-four is now a full-time carer for dementia patients and is living in private accommodation in Catford.

Mrs Spicer said: “When the worker met with me I started crying. It was relief because I was finally getting the help I needed.

“I wouldn’t like to think where I would be if I didn’t have that help and support. I would have lost my kids.”

Service user

News Shopper: John Collins John Collins, from Catford, was referred to the service six months ago by his GP.

The flat above his had flooded and he was finding it difficult to cope so support workers visited him at home.

The 63-year-old said: “They have made phone calls to the housing people and solicitors trying to deal with the flood problem.

“I find I can now come and talk to the support workers. They have given me confidence.”

He added: “It seems too good to be true. But if you come in and speak to someone you find they are genuine."