Leicester charity providing support to the homeless nominated for Pride of Britain award

ITV News Central correspondent Jane Hesketh meets Arif Voraji

A charity worker from Leicester, who helps rough sleepers in the city by providing them with essential items such as food and clothing, has been nominated for a Pride of Britain award.

Arif Voraji started by handing out clothes but, that progressed to offering meals from the marketplace every week.

And now he and his team help homeless people get accommodation and the help they need.

Mr Voraji doesn't just put a roof over their heads, his charity 'Help The Homeless Leicester' offers a support package, from finding a GP, to claiming benefits.

It's about creating some "normality" in their lives that have been chaotic and unpredictable. 

Speaking to ITV News Central, Mr Voraji said: "A lot of people we help into accommodation, once they are in there that is not the end of it." 

"We provide intense support, assisting with things like microwaves, beds, sofas, TVs that kind of stuff, to try and make it into a home and give them the best possible chance, to use that as a springboard to get into some sort of normality, and w never cut ties with people, we let them decide when to let go of our hand."

The charity strives to do everything it can to help rough sleepers.

Adam Smith was living in a tent next to the canal behind the Leicester City football ground. 

He was a drug addict and had hit rock bottom. Arif helped him find temporary accommodation, and he is now drug-free and working full-time for the charity.

The recovered addict says being given somewhere to live when you have absolutely nothing is an amazing feeling.

Adam Smith, in green, now works with the charity to help people who are homeless Credit: ITV News Central

Speaking to ITV News Central, Mr Smith said: "There is nothing like it. You get made a lot of promises by people but not everybody pulls through."

"There was hope, but then seeing the place it all becomes real and there is no feeling like that, it's something that you didn't have that somebody has given you."

Meanwhile Mr Voraji says: "I think there is a lot of stereotypes and stigma attached to homelessness. 

"A lot of people don't know how deep homlessness goes, and the root causes of it as well.  Sometimes it is very easy for people to fall into homelessness." 

"They say you are only one pay cheque away from being homeless, that rings true for a lot of people especially the stories we see."

Since the charity was registered in 2018, Help the Homeless Leicester has found homes for 240 people and 87 per cent of those have stayed there.

It's raised almost £750,000 to help the most vulnerable in society, and it's not just about having a roof over their heads.