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Northwick Park nurse offers helping hand to rough sleeper

Alison Willis
Alison Willis

An unlikely friendship between a nurse and an elderly homeless man helped him escape a life on the streets.

Alison Willis, a senior sister in Northwick Park Hospital’s A&E department first noticed Lewis sleeping in a bus shelter in the hospital grounds.

Alison said: “I was finishing my shift in the small hours of the morning and regularly drove past him huddled up in the corner of the shelter on top of a couple of suitcases.”

Lewis subsequently disappeared until Alison came across him in Harrow Town Centre where the pair struck up a conversation.

Alison added: “It was heart-breaking to see an elderly vulnerable man in those circumstances, especially with winter approaching, so I took it on myself to help him.

“I haven’t done anything like this before but it felt like the right thing to do.”

Lewis, who arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1959, was made homeless after being asked to leave a housing association flat he shared with the tenant who passed away.

Alison put her triage skills to good use helping secure emergency accommodation for the 76 year-old as well as registering him with a GP and applying for various benefits and health checks.

“He’s a man of few words but it was obvious he’d been hard done and didn’t realise he had rights,” added Alison who successfully applied on his behalf to the Home Office for indefinite leave to remain.

Big-hearted colleagues from A&E, West Harrow neighbours and Free Cycle raised money to furnish the studio flat he now lives in and Alison is in regular contact taking care of his laundry and cleaning.

Alison, who was awarded the Borough Commander’s Commendation from the Met for her work, says Lewis has not had an A&E attendance or admission since getting a roof over his head.