A charity that tackles poverty and homelessness is celebrating a move to a much larger home after a shock eviction.

Smile London & Essex announced in a social media post on Tuesday (May 7) that it was moving to 40 High Street in Romford after it was served notice to move out of its North Street hub.

It says its new premises is three times bigger and will incorporate a larger charity shop to help raise more money.

Smile says it will have an “exciting new drop-in café” offering hot drinks, cakes, and affordable lunches for people on low incomes.

The charity, founded in 2017, was told to vacate its previous site on April 9.

Chief executive Maria Quaife accused the landlord, The Raphael Freshwater Memorial Association, of giving Smile no option to negotiate a deal to stay.

A spokesperson for Centric Community Projects, which provides free spaces to charities, responded that Smile had used the premises for free since 2020 and it was understood that it would be returned within a “reasonable” time.

"When [Smile] first signed up over four years ago, it fully understood there was a 30-day notice period to vacate as and when the premises were required to be returned to the owner”, the spokesperson added.

Following the eviction notice, the charity raised more than £40,000 from local businesses, schools and individuals. This helped it rent an empty premises owned by Havering Council at a discounted rate.

Ms Quaife thanked the community for their “incredible support”.

"Their generosity and solidarity have allowed us to not only secure a new home but also to enhance our capacity to serve those in need”, she added.

The charity also extended its gratitude to Kilnbridge Construction company for providing a “large workforce” to help it move stock and complete the refurbishment of its new premises.

Romford Recorder: Chief executive of the charity, Maria QuaifeChief executive of the charity, Maria Quaife (Image: Smile London & Essex)Havering Council was also thanked for offering discounted rent and speeding up the process to get the new site in time for their eviction deadline of May 9.

In another post, the charity said building work is expected to be done by Friday (April 10). 

It added: "Goodbye and Farewell North Street. You served us well for four years.

"A big thank you to Julie at Centric Projects Family, who helped us secure this site back in 2020, but now on to bigger and better things."