A woman who has dedicated her life to helping children in desperate need of a home has been nominated as a Croydon Champion by one of the many recipients of her generosity.

Althea Smith, from Coulsdon, has been helping and supporting children and young adults from difficult backgrounds to get back on their feet for more than 10 years.

The kind-hearted 58-year-old credit controller has taken in a large number of children who have no home, without claiming any money for her work.

Having experienced a troubled time as a child, Ms Smith wanted to help other young people going through a similar situation.

She said: “Everyone needs a chance to get back up on their feet. Some children that come to me have parents, but have been kicked out because they have had an argument.”

On being nominated she said: “I’m very pleased and it was a bit of a surprise.”

Leanne Bilon, who nominated Althea for a parent of the year award, spoke about her own experience receiving support from Ms Smith.

She said: “I came to London from Leeds and was staying in a group in a foster home. I met Althea through her daughter at church and I stayed with her for a long time.

I am just one of so many who have gone into her home and left a different person – she is a gift from God.”

Mrs Bilon, who is now 30 and happily married, added: “I look up to her as a mum and I’m very very proud of her.”

Ms Smith continues to care for those in need and is currently housing three girls in need of a permanent roof over their heads.