With an average of four pubs closing in London and the south east every week, the Guardian is launching an awareness campaign highlighting the importance of public houses to our local communities. ZACHARY NORMAN finds out about the community spirit at one Walthamstow pub

Pub staff and regulars have pulled together to save a homeless man has who sought safety in the pub for years from deportation.

The man, known as Sundrum, who does not drink alcohol and rarely speaks, has been visiting the Rose and Crown pub in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, for as long as people can remember and even has his own seat in the corner.

After Sundrum collapsed on the floor of the pub around six weeks ago he was admitted to intensive care and treated for infection, but authorities could not find his paperwork and could not certify he was legally allowed to be in the country.

Pub staff and customers appealed to Stella Creasy MP and Waltham Forest Council to try and locate his national insurance number – which they did.

Stella Creasy, Walthamstow MP, said: “I’ve been absolutely blown away by people doing things like this.

“People in Walthamstow don’t just walk by, they help each other out and this is another example of that.

“That’s why Walthamstow is, even when times are difficult, a great place to be.”

Councillor Clare Coghill said: “The support that the Rose and Crown team have given to him has made a massive differerence.”

The borough’s cabinet member for children and young people added: “I am really pleased that we have been able to support this man who has so many good friends in the staff and regulars of the Rose and Crown.”

Bun Constantinou, pub manager, said: “We had a lot of help from Stella Creasy and Clare Coghill, they searched and found his national insurance number."

To show support for Sundrum pub customers wrote statements saying they had known him to be a local of the area for many years.

Sundrum, who is now out of intensive care and staying in accommodation outside the borough supported by the homeless charity Thames Reach, is thought to have been on the streets for around 30 years.

A Thames Reach spokesman said: “Thames Reach, through its London Street Rescue team, could not have gained Sundrum’s trust without the help of several people at the Rose and Crown.”

Gary Bird, the Thames Reach worker who has been dealing with Sundrum, said: “People say there is no community spirit nowadays, but that’s not true of Walthamstow – the whole community came together to work with Sundrum.”

Mr Constantinou, whose daughter has visited Sundrum to check on him, said he even started refusing the food offered to him, preferring to eat his own ham and cheese sandwiches.

Mr Constantinou said when he and the other current managers arrived just over five years ago pub regulars requested that Sundrum be allowed to stay.

Sundrum’s supporters have asked if Thames Reach can find somewhere local for him to be housed.