£1.6 million investment to help homeless people in Bristol
A £1.6 million redevelopment of a Bristol homeless centre has been launched.
Riverside ECHG (English Churches Housing Group) is overhauling its Jamaica Street building to convert its rooms into more modern, self-contained flats and to provide appropriate skills and training facilities which will help residents get back on their feet and into independent living.
The centre, in Kingsdown, provides accommodation for up to 54 homeless adults of all ages. Facilities include training kitchens, a communal lounge and computer access.
During severe cold weather it also provides emergency overnight beds for rough sleepers as part of a wider partnership of agencies across Bristol.
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Work has just started to gut and refit 39 rooms on the second and third floors of the listed 19th century building and it is expected to complete the project by next spring.
Residents will stay in nearby alternative accommodation while work takes place.
Christine Collins, Riverside's team leader at Jamaica Street, said: "The idea is to bring the accommodation up to more modern standards, creating self-contained units each with their own kitchen and bathroom.
"There will also be new windows fitted and two communal sitting rooms for residents to relax in. It will be a great improvement for them."
The remodeling scheme has been part-funded by a £613,000 grant from the Homes and Communities Agency. Riverside, a national housing association, has funded the remaining £1 million. Along with other housing, training and support centres run by Riverside, Jamaica Street has also been playing its part in helping rough sleepers out of the cold this winter by offering up to 11 emergency cold weather beds each night when temperatures are below freezing.
"In Bristol our team are doing their best to help ensure no-one suffers on the streets from the cold weather this winter," Christine said.
"Importantly, we are also providing specialist support which not only helps keep people safe in the short-term but also helps them move off the streets long-term. This includes members of the St Mungo's outreach team from the Compass Centre talking to them about their housing options."