Former homeless man from Lewisham receives an MBE for charity work

Dennis Rogers and Mary on the day of the award ceremony. Pic: Groundswell

A former homeless man from Lewisham has received an MBE at Buckingham Palace from Prince William for his work with a charity that helps combat homelessness.

Dennis Rogers, aged 59, has been a caseworker at Brixton-based charity Groundswell since 2010, having spent a total of about 10 years sleeping on the streets.

He was one of the first charity workers who used his own personal experience to become a role model for those who are currently living on the streets.

Rogers once struggled to hold down jobs, had to change temporary accommodations several times and was even stabbed in the lung during broad daylight.

He also endured a battle against alcoholism and other health problems which inspired him to engage with health services to make sure that rough sleepers have access to quality healthcare.

In 2018 alone, Rogers convinced over 90 homeless men and women to deal with their various health concerns.

Since he joined Groundswell, its Homeless Health Peer Advocates team has been responsible for helping homeless people attend over 16,000 appointments with healthcare professionals.

Rogers received the MBE in the company of his brother, his sister-in-law and a former key worker, Mary, who played an important role in helping him to turn his life around.

He lost touch with Mary over the years and had to rely on social media to find her with the hashtag #FindMary.

Dr Steven Platts, the chief executive of Groundswell, said: “One of the special things about our work is seeing people like Dennis come through difficult times to both support and inspire others to do the same. Congratulations Dennis, you should be very proud.”

Homelessness is a growing concern in London, particularly in Lewisham borough. The borough ranked as one of the worsts in the capital, with 1 in 45 people living there being forced to live on the streets, according to a report in The Evening Standard in late 2018.

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