Homeless hostel set to open in Distington
Last updated at 11:12, Thursday, 15 August 2013
A HOMELESS hostel, which offers people the chance to get their lives back on track, could open in Distington.
It also plans to offer temporary accommodation to prisoners released from jail.
The hostel could be open before Christmas.
A new project, Time to Change, has drawn up a business plan for the proposals, which would see accommodation being provided for between 10 and 14 homeless people. It would provide community activities for the residents as well as work experience in a bid to improve their life skills.
The project is working with Whitehaven Community Trust – which itself runs two hostels for homeless youngsters in Whitehaven – to find a suitable venue in the village.
Distington Parish Council and Whitehaven Jobcentre are backing the plans.
The hostel is the brainchild of director Rachel Holliday. The 33-year-old was homeless as a teenager and has rebuilt her life. Following various job roles, she now works for Cumbria Action for Social Support (CASS).
Working with her are fellow directors the Rev Peter Turnbull, Joanna Hastings, Nicola Hewitt and Jo Booth.
Rachel said levels of homelessness are rising throughout the country and there is a significant gap in provision in West Cumbria for a generic homeless hostel.
She says Distington is the ideal place as it is on the main bus route between Copeland and Allerdale, adding: “The project has been set up as a community interest company. We aim to take a broad approach to working with homeless people – not only providing a roof over their heads, but also encouraging them to develop life skills through volunteering, contributing to the management of the hostel and being more active in managing their lives.”
People will be referred through Copeland and Allerdale Councils, Durham Prison and Low Newton, private landlords and other agencies and services, such as Citizens Advice Bureau.
As it would be a 24-hour direct access hostel, people can turn up at the door and be given a room if one is available. They can stay for up to six months and there will be related services to increase their prospects of employment and social inclusion.
There will be alcohol and drug testing, as well as 24-hour CCTV and staff on site.
Rooms would be open from 6pm until 9am but be locked during the day so people can take part in schemes and work-related activities.
Rachel said: “It is a common misconception that homeless and unemployed people don't want to work. This is not my experience. Time to Change is about introducing unpaid and paid work experience into residents’ lives.”
Once established, Rachel will be looking for businesses to sponsor a room in the project or schemes that could include street cleaning, making dolls’ houses, gardening, cleaning graffiti, and washing cars.
Rachel said: “I will be asking local businesses to offer a one day or week work trial for residents and asking local employers to come and speak to our residents to explain to them what it is they are looking for in an employee. The project is designed to support residents into employment. Even if the resident works a couple of hours a week, or works temporary, they will be financially better off in work than not at all.”
She will also be inviting private landlords to see for themselves how residents are managing their accommodation and to consider offering them a tenancy.
Information leaflets are set to be distributed to local businesses about the plans. Copeland Community Fund has given it £960 to develop a business plan to attract funding and directors.
Speaking about the proposals, John Bowman, chair of Distington Parish Council, said: “It’s certainly a difficult subject. The community will be split probably in more ways than just being for it or against it. There might be people in our own village who, through no fault of their own, are homeless.
“A lot of it comes down to the government cuts. It doesn’t have to be people on benefits it could be people on low incomes, those who work seasonally or for any other reason become homeless.”
He added that the parish council initially raised concerns about problems of anti-social behaviour following other ventures in the village, but the project plans show the hostel residents will be getting involved in numerous community activities.
Rachel added: "Referrals for the project will mainly be directed from Copeland and Allerdale's homelessness department. These will be people who are not entitled to temporary accommodation as they are not deemed "priority need" for whatever reason. Any referral will be police checked and tested for alcohol and substances on arrival and no-one under the influence will be permitted to enter.
"Referrals from prison will only be accepted if the resident is deemed to be low risk and has a local connection with a recommendation that our project would be suitable for them. Prisons house prisoners. We provide accommodation for people.
"Our project is short term support to help people who fall on hard times to get back on their feet. Anyone who is in need of long term support will be referred on to the appropriate agency. Referrals made from the village of Distington would be our priority.
"I would ask anyone who has any concerns to contact me as I am happy to meet up to discuss and worries anyone may have.
Please email me or call me and I will make contact."
Contact Rachel on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ttcwestcumbria.org
First published at 11:08, Thursday, 15 August 2013
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
How refreshing in this day and age of "me me me" (Jan?) a local initiative will enable the more disadvantaged amongst us to be given the outreaching helping hand.
Hopefully localised society has turned a corner. Let us all help this consideration for the people who, maybe or maybe not through their own misfortunes, have arrived at a situation where they have perhaps felt that there was no one out there for them. Thank goodness there now is.
Let us all work towards each others well-being.
Thank you Christine, please take a look at my website and any ideas or suggestions I would love to hear. Www.ttcwestcumbria.org
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