December 8 2013 Latest news:
Ian Weinfass, Reporter
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
A Havering man who gives educational talks about the dangers of drugs says he is set to leave the borough because he was taken off the council house waiting list while in rehab.
Reformed heroin addict Paul Hannaford has spoken at more than 30 Havering schools about the dangers of drugs in the last three years.
He was on the council’s housing waiting list prior to 2006, but during a spell in a facility in Somerset, the council weren’t able to contact him and he was removed from it.
Paul, who has delivered hard-hitting drugs awareness talks to thousands of children, has now started approaching other councils about a move away from the borough, in exchange for working for those local authorities for free.
He said: “I’ve been living on friends’ couches and I’m not currently in a position to rent privately.
“I’m not on any benefits, and I’ve saved the council thousands over the years by giving my talks for free.
“All I’m asking for is for somewhere to live where I can pay rent, but on the list I could be waiting years – even though I was on it until I went to rehab in 2006.
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell has backed Paul’s case.
He said: “I have great respect for the work that Mr Hannaford is doing for the young people of Havering, warning young people against the dangers of drugs, and I feel that there is something deeply wrong when a person such as this is not given the help he needs from the local authority.
“We all know that there is a great deal of pressure on the housing stock, but I think that Havering Council should recognise the importance of the volunteer work carried out by Mr Hannaford and others, and acknowledge this in the system of housing allocations.”
Havering Council’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Lesley Kelly, said: “We have over 11,000 people on our housing register and demand for council housing is greater than ever.
“We have to allocate housing to people according to their need.
“We have looked at Mr Hannaford’s case and given him the highest priority possible based on the information he has provided.
“We have suggested Mr Hannaford considers other housing options and we would encourage him to come and discuss these in detail with us.”